“Floor Peas?”

The consequence of a two-year-old helping prepare dinner–a bowl full of frozen peas all over the floor. Siblings to the rescue… sort of.

Jane: Cinder, get Maggie out of here. Flora, help Ender get those peas back in the bowl.

Flora: Why are we putting them back in the bowl?

J: To eat them.

F: You’re going to make us eat floor peas?

J: They’re organic, sustainably grown floor peas, and I just washed the floor the other day. There’s nothing wrong with them.

F: Are you going to tell Daddy they’re floor peas?

Cinder: Daddy won’t mind–he ate those floor noodles, remember?

F: I don’t think he realized they were floor noodles at the time.

J: Guys, stop eating the floor peas, and put them in the bowl.

C: What’s the big deal? We’re just going to eat them out of the bowl after we put them in it.

J: Cause I want to sweep the floor after.

F: To remove the evidence?

J: No, to… you’d better not eat the ones that rolled too close to the garbage.

F: Do you think other mothers would make their children eat floor peas?

J: For God’s sake, I’m not making you eat floor peas, I’m asking you to pick them up!

C: I think the floor peas are delicious.

F: I still think you shouldn’t tell Daddy they’re floor peas.

J: Just put them in the freakin’ bowl…

A Place For Everything

S: Hurry! I need to pee and the baby is grabbing the camera, the box of nails and my beer!
J: Where are you?
S: In the bathroom! Hurry!
J: Your camera, box of nails, and beer are in the bathroom?
S: Now is not the time to discuss the inappropriateness of me putting all these things in the bathroom sink. Just save my beer… and the camera. He can have the box of nails.

September 2010 Post-Mortem

Any establishment that has a dead mouse hanging on a string as part of its decor is a loony bin.”

Chester the Cat, in James Howe’s Howliday Inn, a follow up to Bunnicula

Austen and Flora were obsessed with the Bunnicula books throughout the summer. It seems a fitting beginning to September, the month during which we went mad. Well, the madness occurred earlier, when we planned what we were going to do in September. Which was: 1) finish all for the month work by September 9th (ha!), 2) drive to Manitoba for Sean’s cousin wedding for September 11, 3) continue on to the grandparents’ Otter Falls cabin in Whiteshell Provincial Park and spend a week there, 4) deposit me and Ender at the Winnipeg airport on September 18 for a flight to Calgary while Austen, Flora and Sean returned to the cabin for a few days, 5) while Ender, Dziadzia and and I fly out to Poland on September 19 for my cousin Agnieszka’s wedding (not to be confused with my sister-in-law Agnieszka’s wedding, which took place in Poland in June of 2009—Sean’s right, there might only be five female Polish names…), not to return until September 29, while 6) Sean, Austen and Flora would drive back to Calgary by themselves, just in time for Sean to do some video shoots on September 24.

We did it all, and most of it was fun. At some point, when most of my family is senile or dead, I’ll turn my various trips to Poland into novels or scripts. In the meantime, all I can say: there was a wedding. Fun was had. We came back in one piece. Well, three pieces, I suppose, as there were three of us. Ender learned to walk on his mother’s native soil, and danced at his first wedding aged 11 months and 10 days. And Austen and Flora had their first ever stretch of time without mom.

Not that Sean didn’t appreciate me before—but man, oh, man, was I ever appreciated and adulated all of October.

Leaving The Bear Cubs

I’m cuddled in bed with Flora on one side, Cinder on the other, and Ender on the belly, reading Horrible Science, when suddenly, Flora turns up her face and says, “I still haven’t decided if I can forgive you for leaving us for 10 whole days.” I shower her face with kisses. “If you left for three weeks,” she says, “I’d definitely never forgive you.” And tears. “I love you so much mommy, and you’re always with me. How will I sleep without you?”

We talk. We make promises that I will call every day, that we will Skype. Sean sits on the side of the bed and reminds her that Daddy and Cinder will be with her. And first, Grandma and Grandpa will be here too, and then they will drive back to Calgary, and Nana will be there, and Babi and Dziadzia… She nuzzles into my armpit. Soothed, but not relieved; resigned but not consoled.

I’ve never been away from my kids for 10 days. Not for a week. Once for three days, once for two. And I’m struck, suddenly,

Black Bear mother and cubs in den,, hibernating

Black Bear mother and cubs in den,, hibernating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by what a rare thing that is these days.

It makes me sad… then, overwhelmingly, incredibly happy. Sad that it’s a rare thing—that between broken marriages, shared holidays, demanding jobs and the general whacky scheduling that defines our culture what my kids take for granted, having both of their parents present in their lives most of the time is a rarity for most children. And outrageously happy that this rare thing is true for my children, that it is their “normal,” that they take it for granted—that they don’t have a sense that they are lucky or unusual or privileged, but that they think this is the way things are and ought to be.

(When do I write? As almost always, when they are asleep, this time, uncharacteristically, before they wake. And this piece, which was to be much longer, ends here, interrupted by a hug—Cinder wandered out of bed, looked out the window at the blackbirds feeding en masse on the lawn, took a picture, climbed into my lap for a cuddle, asked where his siblings were—“They’re still sleeping, you’re the first one up today”—and went back to bed. But my train of thought is broken, I type out a couple of lame paragraphs that don’t follow through on the beginning, delete them. Just as well, here comes Flora, displacing the computer in my lap. She cuddles into me and starts singing the Transformers’ song. And now I hear Ender making “I’m about to wake up noises… the morning interlude is over.)