As if the previous week wasn’t crazy enough at work, I was (not so) lucky to jump start this week with a case of the stomach flu. First of all, this made me realize that it’s been a really long time since I’ve had the stomach flu. As in, so long that I can’t remember.
So really, there are very few occasions – if ever in recent times – where a sick day means I’m totally out of commission. Mostly it’s for the worst part of a bad cold where you find yourself on your laptop all day thinking, “I stayed at home….why?” But Tuesday, I was indeed pretty much out of commission. I spent the rest of the day (and night) mostly horizontal. Less chance of feeling light-headed and nauseous that way.
My daughter is obsessed. As in, she seems to love, love, love reading (or hearing, I guess is more like it) Harold and the Purple Crayon. It is a really cute and magical book, I must admit.
If I let her, she’ll choose it as the book she wants me to read at bedtime pretty much every night. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. One night I cut it off at the pass as we were headed into her room after brushing teeth: “Elena, we’re not reading Harold and the Purple Crayon tonight.” Her: I want to read Harold and the Purple Crayon!” Me: “No, we read it every night…let’s read something else.” Her: Sniff, sniff. (As if I’d just banned her from seeing her best friend…) “Okay,” she said grabbing another book reluctantly – which, by the way, is usually My Truck is Stuck. Sigh.
Last month my boss decided to start our staff meeting by having everyone tell the best gift they had ever received or had ever given – in honor of Packy the elephant’s upcoming 50th birthday celebration at the zoo.
I immediately thought of the kaleidoscope that Jeff had given to me not long after we started dating around 13 years ago now. It was made of green stained glass welded in the shape of a triangle. At the end was a small tube with glitter-like stuff in clear liquid. The beautiful colors came from flipping it around. I thought it was a nice gift until he explained that he was giving it to me because it symbolized how I made him feel. That’s when I think it became the best gift I have ever received.
For several years, I kept that kaleidoscope front and center on the bookshelf in my little den in two different houses, until one day a couple of years ago I was moving things around and it fell, shattering everywhere. And by the way, I don’t know what kind of liquid is in those things, but it makes a mess! Needless to say, I was pretty bummed that my special gift was no longer. That is, until my next birthday when I opened a small, long white box to find the most beautiful new kaleidoscope inside. Heck, it even had its own little stand! My new kaleidoscope sits on the dresser in our room, in a place of honor along with newborn pictures of Ian and Elena, and another beautiful gift from Jeff – a handcrafted wooden jewelry box that’s as much art as jewelry holder.
I feel lucky that both of our children have generally been fans of their bedtime (so far, at least). Take tonight, for instance. I got home just after 6:30 p.m. Jeff had already fed Elena (because she also takes after her brother in the area of no patience when it comes to her dinner time) and not five minutes after I walked in, she was at the gate shaking it while she proclaimed, “bat! bat! bat!” Translated: I’m ready to go upstairs and take my bath and head to bed, people! But geez, it wasn’t even 7pm. Apparently she doesn’t realize that it’s okay for her to start stretching out her bedtime instead of being ready even earlier.
Regardless, I must say that after Jeff takes care of the baths and I chase her around to get jammies on and attempt to brush her teeth (she does not take after her brother in the cooperation department…or at least when he used to be generally cooperative pre-kindergarten, but that’s another post), our last minutes before bedtime are ones that I wish I could bottle up and take out whenever I need a smile in the years to come. Every night it’s the same routine:
It wasn’t until Ian actually hit this big milestone of starting elementary school this year that I realized what a big deal it is emotionally. I mean, to realize that your firstborn is starting a whole new stage of their life and that they are no longer your baby going to daycare or preschool. Wow. This is definitely real and different and, well, it just seems significant.
So, of course you as a parent you can’t help but think, “Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was holding him in my arms as a newborn and now he’s getting on the bus by himself?”
Yes, I believe it was.
Ian Glenn Burpo, January 10, 2006, Arlington, Virginia