Posts Tagged ‘three’

Three Ways

11 January 2011

Dear J-

So this morning figgy cries out from bed that there’s something she’s gotta have with her in bed, this raft of sleep that she clings to desperately at times, arms and limbs sprawled in wild tangles, and already full of fellow castaways on slumber’s sea: stuffed animals, balloons, toys du jour. I react with a sleepy groan, theVet gets up to help, and Calcifer, startled awake after his own hour’s labor asleep, begins to cry out. It’s three AM and we’re all wide-eyed facing the dark in different ways: I get up reluctantly, theVet goes to retrieve Calcifer for another feeding he may not really want, on further consideration, and figgy, chastised into silence, gravely explores her options there as I pop in periodically during preparations, first in my pajamas then just before breakfast, after packing lunch, finally before I steop out the door. She accepts a kiss, a hug, a few high-fives, and lastly a handshake where she declares pleeztameetcha. She is three, it is still three, we who were three are now four and ready for another day again.

There’s all kinds of articles on the shooting in Tucson, from how Sarah Palin’s to blame (for crosshair symbols over congressional districts) to profiling the six lives lost (special focus on the nine-year-old born on that dark September 11th and the judge) to dissceting the life of the accused, Jared Lee Loughner. Overnight the news reader picks up the latest stories placed on the wire, this one a little blurb about Loughner’s parents, a neighbor, admittedly not close, says how they’ve been incapacitated since learning their son may have left the house that morning to do mayhem. They came home with groceries and water in the bed of their truck and their neighbor walks up and says, hey, don’t you have a son named Jared? I’m reading it in one corner of the house, eating cereal and picturing the shock but thinking of figgy, lying quiety with eyes open in the half-twilight of the room with more nightlights than lamps and thinking of figgy, not asleep but thinking and thinking of figgy, and wondering what the parents feel, how their flesh may have gone terribly astray.

If I stopped to think about everything that might happen to the kids I would never sleep again from worry and time spent and in all that time I still would never imagine what the Loughners are going through. I realize that our rapacious fourth estate is doing its job to ferret out every angle and uncover every possible connection to bring out a story, but it seems beyond the pale to report on the parents in the absence of statements from them or their only son. They are like a mountain man, this stranger-neighbor says after walking in to bring their mail, describing how private and isolated they were in the neighborhood. Whether you choose silnce or find it necessary it needs respect and that’s why I’d go in periodically to see our figgy in her corner room — still okay, yes, still fine, okay, still got everything you need, yup. Because there’s silence and there’s ostracism and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between them if you’re three, if it’s three, if the three have gone through tectonic upheaval and before repair becomes impossible.



Three Years

4 December 2010

Dear J-

At one point in our walk tonight I turned to theVet and told her that I couldn’t have imagined this three and a half years ago.  The this was left unexplained but it could have mean any one of a thousand things today — the fact that we took a walk after dark with the kids bundled up together to look at lights, or the graphic descriptions of poo figgy offered up later, or the nap she took in my lap as we were working on a puzzle together (at first I thought she was taking a closer, head-down look at the pieces, but she soon grew heavier and heavier and finally restful breathing sounds started coming out of her).

I suppose that if you’re going to limit me to one thing I most admire it’s the unbridled enthusiasm; if I could add another, it’s the rigid lack of compromise.  This has led to more than a few butting of heads around bedtime, bath time, brushing teeth time, getting up time, taking a nap time, going somewhere time, getting in the car time, turning off the TV time.  It’s with almost sociopathic glee that she declares her stance and sticks to it, and you have to admire it even as it maddens you.

Really, perhaps what I meant when I say that I couldn’t have imagined this those years ago is the discovery of who she is in the world and how she fits into it.  And at the moment it’s still cute enough that she should be so self-centered and unrelenting, but eventually she’ll need to relent and grow some kind of empathy before she goes out and starts knocking kids over, but I’m not worried about it — this is what three year-olds do, and it’s up to us to nudge her towards normal.


Magic Trio

23 May 2010

Dear J-

As Schoolhouse Rock teaches us, three is a magic number; for every fairytale with three siblings, we’ve been unconsciously trained to believe that it’s the third brother that will be responsible for overcoming the obstacles and monsters; we know that it’s the third sister who’s modest yet beautiful. Three knocks on the door, three times round the bush, three years spent in labor. At three years old figgy continues to amaze and frighten; this afternoon she decided that the perfect fashion accessory was the new helmet we got this morning, so she spent the night charming the various clerks and waitstaff we encountered.

I recently picked up The Fool of he World and His Flying Ship, which is a Caldecott winner, but unlike most of the others we have on the shelf, it’s a pretty substantial story as well, where the third ne’er-do-well son succeeds without his parents’ blessings because, in part, he takes direction well and is a pleasant traveling companion, not ascribing motives but assuming best intentions instead. The example motivates me to take things less seriously at night; there is no serious plot to keep my stenorious tones from rolling out over her room. We’ll get there eventually, and the time isn’t wasted, after all.

So three is a magic number; three is a beautiful time to be around and it gives me three thousand opportunities to be a better person every day. Three hundred smiles, thirty moments of tearing my hair out in blind frustration, thirty more chances to defuse my temper with some disarming offhand comment. Three wishes before the genie goes into the bottle for the night: that tomorrow is better than today, that today the lessons stick around tomorrow, and that three (more) amazing moments go on record again.


Numbers Game

5 May 2010

Dear J-

I had to make up some training that I’d skipped out on because of the five-week absence — this was training that is mandatory for all people on site, and thus I’m nearly number five thousand (between the late date and the number of contractors we’ve processed, I was surprised to hear that figure myself). Yet the numbers that were most interesting today were one, three, and one. One: one person from our class of the Leadership Academy got sent to the hospital last night, and a week and a half out of Dana Point, we’re hearteningly still together: first that we were notified, second that we all thought about it, third that we kept digging to find answers. And one — one other grad who walked up during lunch to let me know that she was okay.

Three: it turned out that I wasn’t the only one from class to show up today (three of us from LA got caught in the same trap). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I must have let out a sigh of relief once I spotted my fellow graduates sitting there in the parking lot as I walked up — recounting it later, I realized how much more interesting the class was, how much easier it was to get up and talk knowing what I need to work on. I keep thinking the empowering thought: the fear of speaking comes from being afraid you won’t be liked (this makes me think about traveling with kids, honestly — how many dirty looks have you shot at parents of noisy kids, right?).

One: I wrapped up the day with another academy grad, taking a tour of the impressive ASME fab shop — large machines, flawless welds, buckets of chips and shavings — and I think I’m starting to get it. It’s less about getting things done some times; it’s investing time in people and relationships when you can. Well, that makes it sound fairly clinical; you don’t do it because you want people to like you, you do it because you care about people. Our bull sniffers are pretty refined by now; we’re smarter than we think, and we ought to trust our instincts.