Ila turned 4 on Saturday. Happy birthday, Ila! For the last several weeks, because of her impending birthday, we have been counting. How many days until her birthday. How many years old she is. And, the other night, how many years until she could drive. She and I were running an errand when she announced that she would not be able to drive when she was 5 but maybe when she was 20. We discussed 16 as the legal driving age and counted from 4 to 16 to see how long it would be. She told me that 12 years was a long time. Then, after thinking quietly for a few minutes, she said, "What if we lived 20 years?!" as if this were an astoundingly long time to live.
I said, "Well, I hope we live a lot longer than 20 years. Some people live to 100!"
Then, very pensively, earnestly, with a note of regret in her voice like she was informing me of something true but difficult, she said, "Some people don't."
All I could do was agree with her. Some people don't. I know I am not alone, in the land of parents, with my feelings of abject horror at the thought of my children dying. It's a thought I can't even look at squarely, in the eyes. It darts in, and I avert my eyes quickly, but I can still see the looming shape, the indistinct figure of fear in my periphery. I suffer from intrusive thoughts about death in general, and I really hope my children are more like Kiyomi in this way. She just doesn't think about death. Her death. Our children's deaths. I worry that Ila will be more like me. And, I worry that she is going to ask me about death before I have a good answer figured out. My bar for "good answer" is pretty low. I'm not talking about some kind of philosophically thoughtful, open, considered answer. I'm talking about an answer that doesn't simply broadcast my complete panic. I'd like to be coherent and not sniveling. That'd be a good answer.
So, I listen to her thoughts circle around time, aging, mortality. She is defintiley trying to figure some of these things out. We were eating a snack the other day and talking about her being a kid and me being a grown up. I said, "Maybe I'm a little kid too."
Ila dismissed this immediately. "No, you're a grown up."
"What makes me a grown up?"
Without missing a beat, as if this was the universal bar, she said, "You drive a car."
"What if I was a kid who drove a car?"
She thought for maybe one second. "No. You use sharp knives. And scissors."
Now we have delineated maturity. Driving and successfully using cutting implements. (By the way, I'm killing it as a grown up. You should see me with some scissors.) Never mind all that other stuff - supporting yourself, caring for your family, taking emotional responsibility for yourself, making decisions, doing lots of household chores. If fact, that's kind of what being a grown up means for me right now. Doing chores. I don't mind really. It's one of the easier items on the list. Fortunately, being in my home most of the time also includes cute little kids. They are so cute. I know that I will get more rest when the two little ones are older...but I will miss this toddler adorableness.
Pippa is the adventurer of the family. Fortunately, this includes being bold, quick, smart, perceptive, strong, persistent, and tough. Unfortunately, this also includes being incautious, fearless, stubborn, and not the least bit sensible to danger. She is amazing to watch. When she learns to do something, she does it like 50 times in a row to really get it down. She is not thrown off by failure or mistakes. She loves climbing and anything new or forbidden. That's pretty typical for a toddler, though. Still, she exemplifies these toddler traits. She is also a bit of a brute. She will pull, yank, ram or in any other way try to force objects and people to do her bidding. Ila has never been physically aggressive with the babies but they are with her, especially Pippa,. They will pull her hair or hit her on occasion. Sometimes they seem frustrated. Sometimes they just seem curious.
Pippa is also so determined to communicate. She has a number of words she says all the time: tickle, up, nur (nurse), hi, bye, no, more, nose, hat, ball, this and Pippa. She says "mama" sometimes but she doesn't really use it as a name. She sort of issues it as a command to anyone fitting the description, as in, "Get a mama in here now!" or "I want the other mama, not this one!" She looks at you like she is willing you to understand her. She also takes your hand and makes it do what she wants. Sometimes this includes manipulating it, like making it into a cup to hold something or taking one finger to push a button. She is going to be a powerhouse when she gets all her words. Watch out!
Forrest is our little Puck, our tiny mischievous elf. He pays close attention to what
he's not supposed to do and does it, preferably for laughs because he is
also a ham. He has one dimple and a very playful little smile. He
loves, loves, loves to laugh with you. In fact, when anyone is
laughing, even if he doesn't know why, he is prone to laughing himself.
He just wants to join the party. Plus, he is tiny. He's so cute. His little hands, his little
face, his little body. He's just so little. Sweet and cute and cuddly and devilish.
He is also the resident pointer. He babbles and points, very emphatic babbling, but mostly babbling. He does do a few signs, and he's maybe said a few words: here, this, raisin, ball, more. But the one word I know he's trying to consistently say is "nurse." Like Pippa, he says something like "nur." He's also a biter, though fortunately not when he nurses. The two rounds of teething have including many little nips on my leg. He just leans over and takes a chomp, mid activity. Then, after all the teeth are in, he stops. I guess my body parts are the most enticing teethers.
Together the babies are like puppies - egging each other on, getting into everything they shouldn't, climbing all over each other, stealing each other's toys, and howling in agony if the other one is unhappy. Throw Ila into the mix and the house looks like a tornado hit. It is exhausting, I'll grant you, but, when I have all three of them on my lap (they all miraculously fit), it is also pretty sweet and wonderful.
NOTE: So, I actually wrote this the first week of June (right after Ila's birthday), but it has taken me a month to post it! I just reread this and, in the intervening weeks, both the babies have started saying so many more words...Pippa says a mean "Ila" now...and Forrest's current favorite is the word "more," which he pronounces "moah moah moah moah." And says it like a baby bird hollering for, well, more. It's amazing to see how much changes in a few weeks at this point in a child's life.