Sunday, January 1, 2012

On being very big and very small

I thought the volatility of childhood arose closer to puberty and somewhat less close to the age of two. Yet, here I am wondering how it is that one so small can place a hand on her hip just so and strut importantly away, while the next moment can bring her screaming back to me, hands pressed to ears, wailing about the 'boom, boom!' that can be heard from the floor above.

At least a handful of times a day I think to myself, 'Does she even need me anymore? I don't think she needs me anymore.'

And at least a handful of times a day I think to myself, 'Oh the neediness! Oh the massive, limitless expanse of her needs!'

Which can sometimes translate to, 'How very tiny and vulnerable you are in this wild and unwieldy world. Please God give me the capacity to protect you and give you everything you need to own it. and love it.'
And can sometimes (very, very rarely of course) translate to, 'Seriously!? How many times a day do I have to tell you that they are your NEIGHBORS. And they live UPSTAIRS. And they have feet that walk and make SOUND.'

We spent the past week at Green Acre Baha'i School semi-attending the annual winter school. It's lovely- old friends and new coming together to love and laugh and have deep, intelligent, real conversations about how to grow spiritually, thereby uplifting their relationships, thereby uplifting their communities, thereby uplifting some piece of the world- however small or large it may be.

It just so happens that my current responsibility in the upliftment department is to keep two human beings--complete with bodies, minds, and souls--alive. One might even add thriving. It's a lot, considering that you somehow have to keep your own body, mind, and soul alive as well. It's slightly more than a lot, if you yourself happen to be interested in thriving.

Anyway, my point here is that by 'semi-attending' winter school, what I meant was that I managed to feed us all and sometimes smile or even say 'hi' to people in route to the potty, nursery, or AHH THERE GOES THE BABY UP THE STAIRS AGAIN!

Samaya on the other hand owned it. I spent most of the time in the 'she doesn't need me anymore' category, watching from afar as she paraded around the place with her friend Becca. She ate meals with me, but only because it was enforced with a tightened seat belt. The rest of the time they stole people's coats and made forts under tables. They walked imaginary cats down the hallways. They made countless cups of tea and served each other plastic fries. And they quite blatantly pretended that their parents did not exist. You might think this made my life easier, but anyone who owns one knows that two can be a very dangerous thing.

On the last day after lunch, the girls had been going up the stairs to where the guests' rooms and the room of Abdu'l-Baha are. I had called them back at least a million times, and after Becca told me that they needed 'to pray' I finally gave up, Violet and I slowly making our way up after them. By the time we reached the third floor, screaming could be heard in the vicinity of Abdu'l-Baha's room. My first thought was that they were inside, fighting over prayer books and causing a scene while people were attempting to pray. Slightly mortified, I scooped up Violet and ran to the door--but it didn't sound like they were in there. I couldn't find her in any of the neighboring rooms either, and now Samaya was hysterical. Someone walking by started looking as well, and found them inside a room,  inside a closet. The girls had gone in, closed the door behind them, and found themselves trapped with no latch on the inside to let themselves out. When we opened the door, there was my daughter borderline hyperventillating and there was Becca. perfectly composed and unfazed. (I'm not sure how to even comment on this.)

I did my best to comfort them. I acknowledged how scary that must have felt. I held Samaya for a while. And then I of course stressed the importance of obedience and staying near our mommies and daddies in case help is needed. I got a promise out of both of them that they would ask permission next time and go upstairs only with a parent, and then we went back downstairs. The end.

Except it hasn't ended. Over breakfast, she tells me, 'Mommy, I got stuck.' Over crayons, she tells me, 'Mommy, member I got stuck?' She tells her father, 'Daddy, daddy! I got stuck at Geeker! (Green Acre)' And completely understandably. You try being two and getting locked in a dark closet with no way out. Being two was hard enough.

And here is where I am needed again. and again. again.  



  1. Oh, how many times a day do I think to myself "You're mighty sassy for someone who still needs help wiping her bottom." Two is teaching me to be a bigger, better person too. :)

  2. And imagine when they are teenagers, and you are trying to be a responsible parent at Green Acre! Then they are 99% sure they don't need you... but you are still legally responsible for them! I wonder if and when 15 will be the age for voting and being legally responsible for oneself.

  3. Oh I love this post. How I love this post!