Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Superbabies



These are the Superbabies.  Manny has a whole storyline developed, but I haven't been a good enough listener to remember anything.  The other reason I can't remember is that all his good ideas are just talk.  The reality of the Superbabies game is that the kids wear their old cloth diapers and crawl around the house whining at me to do things for them, things that they have all known how to do independently for years.  And, to sweeten the experience, they fight over Glory and Elena's baby pacifiers that I had the bad idea to bring out.  Manny has bitten off the end of one and pushed his finger through the other.  It makes me kind of sad.  They were one of the things I had wanted to save for sentimental reasons.  For the first six months of the girls' lives, those turqoise newborn pacifiers saved us over and over and over again.  (They also popped out of the girls' mouths and rolled under our bed in the middle of the night more times than I can count.  Then one of us would have to bounce and comfort two tiny newborns while the other person slithered around the floor like a near-starved snake searching for a crafty rodent to feed its baby snake.  At first, I thought that a bad descriptor, but it's growing on me because I'm pretty sure those pacifiers could move independently, and, by that time of night, I had lost the use of all four of my limbs.)

It also fills me with a strange feeling to see my kids running around in diapers and looking so ridiculously out of place in them.  It's like the years of hearing the rhythmic chides of "MOMMY!  WIPE ME!" coming from three different toilets around the house never happened.

I have started to observe, as I move through my slice of Seattle, that people have continued to have babies after I had my babies.  It's weird.  There are small ones, new ones, wobbly ones and babbling ones everywhere.  It's like a baby explosion all the time. 

I am guessing it has always been this way, but I never noticed this phenomenom before.  Not even remotely noticed it.  I didn't really like kids before I had kids.  I kind of pretended to, but I didn't.  So they were invisible to me.  I chose not to see them.

Well, now I'm converted.  Now, if it was 1986, I would probably get choked up every time I heard the beginning of The Greatest Love of All on the radio.  I think kids are absolutely wonderful and I am astounded that I was one and now I'm not.  While I was driving my mini-van today, I saw a woman driving her mini-van that reminded me of Connie, my best friend's mom when I was in elementary school.  And I just thought about how quickly it feels like I went from being in her passenger seat to being the driver in this grand story we're a part of.  And yes, I just alluded to driving a mini-van full of kids as being a grand story!  And it is!  May we never forget it!

So, I am seeing all these kids, younger than my own, everywhere, and it is a constant reminder of how much has changed and how much Manny, Glory and Elena have grown and grown into themselves.  It fills me with gratitude as I think on it and gives me an awe for how quickly they will be even older than they are now.  Oh crap.  It just happened.  They're already older.

The sun came out this afternoon and we went to Big Howe playground to catch the last hour of light.  Manny's favorite place to play is the circular monkey bars, but the entire time we were there today, there were at least 15 middle schoolers hanging out underneath them, their bodies shifting nervously from the thrill of trying to make connections with kids of the opposite sex. 

One girl barely had enough clothes on to cover her ass.  Seriously.  No tights!  (Sam wanted to know if there were tights.)  One false move and the thing would have flipped north or simply burst apart from being so snug, either way revealing her thong (I am sure she was wearing a thong) to a playground full of toddlers and preschoolers and their haggard parents.  It was 4:00, after all. 

And this girl was 13.  That's it.  And there just isn't that much time between being 5 and being 13, in the grand scheme.  And it was poignant to see this whole group of really insecure 13 year olds with no parents around, trying to be so mature under the monkey bars while my 3 year olds looked on in fascination, bewilderment and discomfort.  Elena never played once.  She just had her hands stuffed in her pockets, wanting to be held, and seemed continually heavy with the presence of the big kids.

As I watched Manny jump off the playground again and again, I tried to change my perspective from seeing the unsupervised middle schoolers as an annoyance and bad example to seeing them with a mother's eyes.  How many of them had played at that playground when they were 5?  Were they remembering that era of their life in between text messages? 

Manny and Glory sped down the hill on wheels and were ready to cross the street to our alley in seconds.  Elena walked, her hands in her pockets, all the way home while I carried her bike and her helmet.  I really think she didn't know what to make of the juxtaposition at the monkey bars.  I guess I really don't either.  Life is a pretty amazing series of changes and I am grateful for the gift of home, where it's mostly not awkward and we can just gather around the table and try not to pinch each other while we fight about who's singing who's song in between bites of carrots and broccoli.

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