Long Days and Short Years

just trying to pay attention so I don't miss my life


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No Time to Waste

Tuesday is our day.  No preschool.  No work.  No ambitious goals.

Just one four year old and one distracted-but-trying-not-to-be mama.  Tuesday is our day.

We spent the morning teaching her dolls to swim and putting away the laundry.  The neighbor boy knocked, and she went out to enjoy the mud while I checked my e-mail.  Leftovers for lunch, dishwasher loaded, and then I asked, “So, what do you want to do this afternoon?  Roller skating?  Dinosaur museum?  Library?”

“I want…” she considered, “I want to go for a walk.”

“Okay.  Where do you want to walk to?”

Wrong question.  She practically rolled her eyes in exasperation.  “Mama!  We can’t waste time going somewhere.  I just want to walk!”

I couldn’t believe that she said that:  We can’t waste time going somewhere.  I never thought of it that way before.

And so we didn’t waste a moment.  We strapped her marker-streaked Belle doll into the old green umbrella stroller and ambled up the hill.  If we had been going somewhere, the pace would have been painfully slow; but since this was what we were doing, I let her lead.  The streets were quiet, nearly deserted in the lull between lunch and school dismissal.  We circled around and around, stepping over broken glass, and peering into the caverns of rotted trees.  She stopped to feel the warm air coming out of a dryer vent.

After nearly an hour we sat on a low wall to share a bag of raisins and peanuts.  Our coats were open now, and our hats and gloves cushioned the baby doll’s head.  The sun reflected off metallic candy wrappers sticking out of the storm drain.

“Mama” she sighed, “do you know what?”

I looked at her serious little face expectantly, “What honey?”

“Mama.  Sometimes… (here she gave a dramatic pause), sometimes I smell a lion nearby.”  She studied my face for signs of fear.  I tried not to laugh.   “But (another dramatic pause) then I know that it’s just someone pretending to be a lion.”  She raised her eyebrows and I took a deep breath to steady myself.  “Mama.  Are there any more raisins?”

There were.  But you’ll be relieved to know that lions don’t eat raisins.  We finished our snack in silence, and began walking toward the bus stop.  It was almost time for big sister to come home, and she couldn’t wait to show off the rocks she had just collected.

Though after all of that, it was a little disappointing to have a destination.


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Bird Funeral

My husband went downstairs first this morning, and I am so glad he did.

The cat was scratching at the back door, so my husband obliged by opening it.  The cat obliged by presenting him with a small gift.

Flutter, flutter, flap.  The gift wasn’t dead yet.

By the time I arrived at the scene of the crime, feathers were strewn along the hallway.  The window was smeared with blood, and the dove rested in the cat’s food dish.  (This last part was my husband’s idea.  He wanted to imprint a ‘you kill it, you eat it’ ethic on our little carnivorous beast.  It didn’t work.)

Our poor innocent adorable pigtailed preschoolers were horrified… oh wait, I mean… thrilled.  Thrilled.  It was the most exciting thing to happen to them since one of our chickens got attacked by a peregrine falcon.

Daddy, can I pick it up?  Daddy, can I have a bag to collect the feathers?  Daddy, can we wake up the boys?  Daddy, can you lift me up so I can see the blood?

(Notice how smart they are… they know which parent will say yes.)

The funeral was led by our five year old daughter.  The eight of us (my family plus our housemates) stood around a small hole and thanked God for making this particular bird.  We said that we were sad that it was dead, and the boys both said that they wished the cat hadn’t killed it  (the cat was not present to express remorse).  Our daughter prayed and we sang her two favorite songs, “You Are my Hiding Place” and “Oh, Freedom.”  Then our four year old gravedigger covered the lost dove with dirt, and the grown-ups turned to walk away.

But we weren’t done yet.

“And now,” my daughter announced, “we will all lay on the ground.”

“Um… why’s that honey?”

“We will all lay on the ground and look up at the birds that are flying.  We need to remember that lots of the birds are still alive.”

We need to remember that lots of birds are still alive.

So we all lay down, all eight of us in a row.  We lay in the grass and looked to the sky.  She was right.  There were a lot of birds up there.

And we remembered.