For four days in May, while Mrs. Hughes celebrated her birthday with her sister and her best friend in New York City, we flew north to help Mr. Carson hold down the fort. (He doesn’t really need much help.) Chill from the north wind dampened the days of our visit, but didn’t dampen Alaska spring activities.
Pretty much nothing is cuter than a six-year old girl with braids and a ball cap playing her first baseball game (after just two practices). Standing by the dugout full of tiny teammates, I watched the swing and heard the satisfying smack when bat connected with ball pitched by her coach. Braids flying, she headed to first base, a little uncertainly at first, and then swiftly!
One day Lady B’s kindergarten teacher planned an excursion to the Municipal Greenhouse and nearby woods, and asked me to lead a little watercolor demonstration. She provided good materials (that can make all the difference with watercolor) – tiny palettes with six real watercolors, fine line pens and brushes with points. The students didn’t need much direction, and soon scattered around the greenhouse to draw – watercolor paper taped to clipboards – then came together in a circle to paint. The penline and watercolors produced amazed me by their careful observation of shape and color, each unique to its creator.
It struck me that the days of Lady Baby are behind us. That little girl in the orange t-shirt, worn over a red, long-sleeved thermal shirt with Tyrannosaurus rex on the front, seems far from anything with baby in the title. The girl formerly known as Lady Baby has school life and social relationships of her own now – two best friends, a girl with a mop of blonde curly hair, and a boy with dark curly hair and big glasses. Maybe now I call her Lady B, a more grown up title, because Baby Brother (who rapidly outgrows that moniker) calls her Bopal.
We spent great days with Baby Brother while Lady B was at school. Playgrounds please, but nothing is as popular as “owside” – the back yard with swing and slide and balls to kick – or a slow amble down the sidewalk out front.
He loves books – specially ones with pictures of “boom boom crash” providers, particularly enormous bulldozers and crane trucks. Lady B reads to him, revisiting all the favorites (dinosaurs). He laughs with the same joy and relief at the resolution in “Knufflebunny” that I remember from her.
When we first arrived I marveled at his mom’s understanding of his language, but as the days passed I began to get it better. He repeats everything said to him – so the structure and intonation becomes more clear, and you realize how much he can communicate, if only his listener understands. He says all the family names, but somewhat curiously, Lord Cromwell became “Bacram.”
It sounds odd to say of someone so young (he’ll be two in early September), but he seems contemplative as he thoughtfully considers things. I say: “Look, chickadees – chick-a-dee-dee-de.” And he listens and looks, head tilted to one side, before repeating the call. It’s easy to be totally silly with him and make up nonsense, eliciting great grins and chuckles.
I loved watching Lady B and Baby Brother greet their mother when she came back. Both brave while she was away – and overjoyed at her return!
*Image used by permission of the artist
Oh, I so love the stories of your grandchildren, especially as I am on the ferry to the airport to be present when my youngest grandchild, Jack, graduates from high school tomorrow. It went so fast! I will vicariously enjoy all the news about Baby Brother and Lady B. Keep it coming …..
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Thanks Jane – I’m glad you enjoy!
Great story, and wonderful watercolor. I’m glad the artist gave her permission to use it! I can definitely see the joy of working with really good materials, and the benefit of having a good teacher. Lady B is a good name change, and I look forward to more stories and artwork.
Thank you Carol – it is a wonderful watercolor – love those prickles and the perfect color on that cactus and the little place in the corner where she tested colors! And I wish I’d been able to study all of them more closely — I love to see what a group of humans, big or little, does with the same art opportunity.
Delightful! And good materials for children do make all the difference. You might enjoy reading some about the magnificent preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and the menu Reggio-inspired schools in the US and Canada (and around the world, truly). They speak of “the hundred languages of children” and offer children multiple materials and media and think that repeated attempts to represent what they see help children to understand more deeply. It’s magical stuff!
Jack still loves “The Bear Snored On” and will be one year old this week! We’ll look for Knufflebunny in our fabulous Snohomish Public Library.
Oh thanks Bonny and wow – I just had a great time dipping a little into the Reggio Emilia approach. Lucky kids. Thoughtful adults. Thank you! and enjoy Knufflebunny (and sequels now).
Those lovelies are growing so fast. One day they will love reading your blog and then they will rediscover the “little me” that made them the wonderful “big me” ! Hugs…..
I like this idea – of the little “mes” and the big ones!