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January 5th, 2007
With a full moon, I always wonder about change.
Last night, I went for a walk around the block after finally putting a terribly crabby 15 month old to bed. There is was, la luna, full and plump.
“It’s a rock,” my daughter said. Coco is a beautiful blend of concrete and mush. As I was getting dinner ready for my other child, my daughter came into the kitchen with tears streaming down her face. She held a dead humming bird in her hand.
“She’s dead!” she sobbed. She cupped the little bird in the palm of her hand.
“Look at its long beak,” I said. “Look at the beautiful green feathers.”
“They’re shiny.” Her tears returned. Then my son joined in. He was not pleased with any part of dinner. I told my daughter all animals have to die. She wasn’t buying it. “I need to draw a picture of her.”
“Great,” I said seeing relief coming my way. “Drawing is cathartic.” She furrowed her eyebrows and looked at me.
“Drawing! Yes, draw a picture of the bird,” I said. “That’ll feel good.”
“Can we put it on the table while we eat?” she asked. There are always firsts in parenting. I believe this is one of them. We’ve had dead animals in our home, but none have dined with us. I set it on a cloth. My son wailed and chewed on his fingers. I was starving and beginning to loose patience with the idea of parenting. I didn’t want to advise anymore. I wanted to be ALONE.
I turned on music and danced for my son while trying to shove a spoon of food into his mouth. I got one in every third try. He ate a few vegetables; clapped when I danced and continued to cry. My daughter ate her burrito while she dabbled in the watercolor of her dead bird.
My son cried for two more hours. Teeth? Colic? Just the frustration of being a baby? I handed Addison over to my husband, the baby continued to cry. Sometimes I sense many men lack, that, well that, touch. I went back to the kitchen for chocolate and a glass of wine.
After the last gulp, I took Addison to our big bed so he could dive and roll around. My daughter entertained him with stuffed animals and peek-a-boo. I tried on dresses (they finally fit me, again!) that I was considering on wearing for New Years Eve. We milked a little bit of laughter out of Addison for about 20 minutes. The crying ensued. I shut the door and held him and began to walk.
My back flinched in spasms, so I sat down in the rocking chair. Addison cried louder and harder. Nothing was going to help him except falling to sleep. He sat in my lap as I rocked. He chewed hard on his thumb. I tried singing and talking to him. Eventually, we just rocked.
It’s easy to blame such a difficult evening on teeth. But I think Addison experienced the rage that is in all of us. He’s beginning to feel the intenseness of the human condition. And, since he can’t talk, he cries, and then he rages. We’ve all done it. Every baby and toddler will continue on in the same way. But, I want to give my child the chance to express it; feel it – all of it – from his toes to the top of his head – in the safety of my arms or at least within my reach. If it was me, how would I want to be treated? Sometimes this thought is the only thing that pulls me through my exhaustion and frustration.
We rocked for 15 minutes more. His cries whimpered to a puttering sound.. I remember that morning I had heard crying too, but it wasn’t from my son. Before the sun came up I heard the neighbor crying. She slammed out of her house and opened the car door. She continued to sob in the car. She started the ignition and drove away. I wondered if she’d just learned her mother died, but I sensed something else in the tone of her tears. There was no need for translation. It sounded like a relationship had ended. It sounded like a broken heart.
I put my son into his bed. His body was limp. I knew as long as I was breathing, I would try to provide a safe place for him to cry; a place to open his heart.
The wind was fierce. I stepped out to look at the moon. It hadn’t changed a bit.Filed under Costa Rica, Expatriate Life, Humor, Kids in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Susan Lutz (Carmichael) | Comments (9)