Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Stories (One long, One short)

This time of year if I even see one PSA about children/families/individuals who are giftless/hungry/alone for the holidays, I get choked up. Case in point, the other day, e-baby asked me why it's better to give than to receive. I told her it was because it feels good to give someone something, like when we donate to the Goodwill. She wasn't quite following (well, they could just go to Target and buy some things). She prodded for more-- she asked why we donate old things to the poor, and I tried explaining how some people don't have much, and the least we can do is give them our old stuff.
Blank stare, crickets.

So I took a different strategy:
me: You know how, when you come home from school, we make dinner, or sometimes we eat out?
e-baby: Yes
me: And whenever you outgrow your old clothes, we go buy new ones?
e-baby: Yes
me: And when your birthday comes around, or Christmas, you get lots of new toys and books and things?
e-baby: Yes
me: That's because mommy and daddy have jobs and we are paid enough to buy the things we need, and have a little extra to buy things we want, like dinner in a restaurant or a toy now and then. Well, some people can't find good jobs, or their jobs don't pay quite enough for all the things they need. There are even some mommies and daddies who can't afford to buy food and toys for their children (and at this point, I start choking up like a super-sappy-sop and can't speak in a coherent sentence anymore-- little face with huge brown eyes, so lucky to have everything a child could ever need)

So we discussed that there are organizations that we give money and other donations to so that they can bring food and toys to people who don't have enough.
e-baby: If I had a friend who was really poor, I would give her one of my toys that I didn't want anymore.
me: Would you maybe give her one that you do still want?
e-baby: Well, no, I don't think that would work.
I mean you know, she is a 4-year-old, not Jesus or the Dalai Lama.

But, she seemed really receptive to the whole taking-care-of-poor-children thing and asked a few more times about how we could help some poor children. So we began a new family tradition: each kid has a budget for buying toys for donating, and we go shopping. Jambuca is still too small, so e-baby shopped on his behalf. She picked a deluxe toy food set (like the one she has and loves) and 2 small Disney Princess figurines. "He" picked a 12-piece toy muscial instruments/band set for babies (like the one she has and loves) and 3 Matchbox cars. We also picked out a bunch of her favorite nonperishable foods to give to the Food Drive at my office.

Here's my favorite part...

In line to check out at Target, the man in front of us accidentally bumped into e-baby, and knocked her over a little. He apologized profusely, and she (in classic e-baby style, using the opportunity to make a new friend) tells him (loudly), I'm donating some toys and food to the poor children! I am so excited! I can't wait to donate! It will make some children so happy! This is the happiest I've ever felt!

After he had checked out, he noticed that our Matchbox cars accidentally made their way into his stuff, and he had been charged for them. Before the cashier could credit it back, he said, NO! Leave it on my bill- That little girl is going to donate, and I want to be a part of it.

A near-tearful Hallmark moment. Over a $3 Matchbox cars donation! But no, that's not the reason. It was the poignant, the raw and gorgeous humanity of the situation. 

When we put the toys into a Toys for Tots collection bin, e-baby told the toys to find their way to a great new home. I don't think she really gets it completely-- how can you understand hunger if you've never been without food? -- but it is the beginning.

By the way, if any of you have ideas for other ways to get preschool-age kids involved in helping others , I'd love to hear your ideas. I'd love for my kids to grow up with a strong conscience and sense of social justice. After all, it was my own mother who, in the mid 1970s, had her children flying Black Power kites in the field next to the airport which had been notable for their racist empoloyment policies. Start 'em young, right mom? (this really is true. ask her about it. my mom is so awesome.)

OK, and the 2nd story. Much shorter, struck me as funny.
To save time and water, the kids have been bathing together more often. We let them use our big bathtub, and tonight I overfilled it and overbubbled it. Jambuca ran into my bathroom, sat right down and pulled off his right (red) cowboy boot. Then he pulled off his right sock, and stuffed it carefully inside the boot. Then he pulled off his left boot, then the left sock, and stuffed it inside the left boot. Then he neatly lined up the pair of boots next to the bathtub and put his arms up to be lifted into the suds, stomping his feet in excited anticipation.

Heh. I think at 1 yr old, I was wriggling free of my diaper and running from the house to streak nekkid down through the neighbors' yards. Jambuca is SO Montessori. (For the record, Jambuca does love to run around nekkid. But he mostly stays inside.

Gingerbread House-Eating Day

I love making gingerbread houses at Christmas, decorating them with cheap candy, and picking at them throughout the holidays. At the end of the Christmas season, the whole thing is so stale you just want to throw it away. E-baby has never been all that interested in eating them, so mostly they sit around being decorative.

This year we made a whole gingerbread village. There was a large central house (town hall?) made mostly from graham crackers and ginger snaps, surrounded by 5 tiny houses made from one of those gingerbread house kits. E-baby made my favorite snowman ever with mini marshmallows.

This year, Jambuca was very, very (VERY) interested in the gingerbread village. He climbed up onto the kitchen island at one point to grab a mini-house and try to gnaw on it. Repeated efforts to redirect him were thwarted and just led to a lot of screaming, so the gingerbread house moved to the top of the fridge.

It's been there for almost 2 weeks. That's just useless.

So, thanks to a great idea from my BFF Lizard, we also decided to have Dec 15 be gingerbread house-eating day. At breakfast today, the kids went nuts on the houses. And honestly, they didn't want much. Everyone had fun. E-baby said it was her favorite day of the year, and she was only sad that she'd have to wait another year for gingerbread house-eating day.

She also started singing this funny song with the lyrics "Chick it easy." It's odd, so I decided to videotape it. Here it is!

(Thank you again, Lizard, for the great idea! And, it is killing me that I know I took pictures of this year's house, but I can't find them anywhere.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Recent Collection of e-babyisms and Jambucaisms

* Discussing the Irish potato famine, we somehow got onto the subject of fungicides and insecticides and how they have saved so many lives from starvation and famine. She said that they were like superheros, but for potatoes. (car conversations with e-baby are strange, but never boring)

* He won't go anywhere without his mommy doll: a Polly Pocket with perma-clothes and hiking boots. He carries it in the car, leaves it in his seat to go to school, and grabs it as soon as we pick him up. He loves to point to it and say, Mommy! and then point to me and say, Mommy!

* At school, a little boy friend told the class about watching Rudolph on TV. She burst into hysterical sobbing, and once the teachers settled her down enough to speak, she said, I missed it! Now I will never get to see Rudolph! (the teacher told her that it would come on TV at least 10 more times before Christmas. I DVR'ed it and we watched it this evening).

* He loves to push the Pager button on the cordless phone cradle just to hear it go BEADLE-BEADLE-BEADLE! He also likes to use the cordless phone cradle as an easy-chair for Polly mommy.

* Describing a troll that has bad teeth, she tells me, That troll doesn't eat oranges- he's a scurvy troll.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Existential Mommy Crisis

Since I haven't posted pictures on Flickr since the Ireland trip, you might be surprised to see some more up there (Thanksgiving week and the first snow of the season)

When e-baby was 2, she loved watching Caillou. She was the same age as Rosie, Caillou's little sister. I enjoyed watching her go from being able to speak less than Rosie to being able to speak better than Rosie. I also wondered whether the kinds of things Caillou was able to say and do were really representative of a 4-year old. I mean really, there's no way a 4-year-old can do all that stuff and speak so clearly and understand such concepts.

Tonight we watched Caillou for the first time in a long time. E-baby is Caillou's age and does all the things Caillou does. Jambuca is just a little younger than Rosie. Caillou is a typical 4-yr old (only waaaaaaaay better at using his polite words). It took my breath away.

Speaking of e-baby, she never fails to make me laugh with how she explains things. This evening, a friend/neighbor from next door came over with her 4-yr-old son, and we loaned them our copy of the book James and the Giant Peach. I read it to e-baby last month, and she loved it. She was showing her friend the pictures on the cover, and explaining who the good guys were, and the bad guys, and then she told him about the peach.

"They went inside that peach. I mean INSIDE of it! Wait, I'll show you..."
(putting her hand waaaaay into a big barrel of goldfish crackers)
"See how my hand is in here like this? THAT is how they were INSIDE the peach!"

A lot can change in 2 years.