read more posts by

Leah Ferguson

“This is a Strange Sort of Place,” She Said

We went hiking with the girls Sunday. Isn’t that funny, what I just said?  Hiking.  With the girls.  As if there were such a thing with two children under the age of four. Allow me to rephrase. We went walking in the woods today, with the girls.  We did, too.  We walked. We also ran. We skipped stones across a lake (well, David skipped stones, while Saoirse threw handfuls into the water with such an arm I’m wondering if softball will be in her future, and I kept repeating “How’d you do that?”.  To David, not Saoirse). She and I sang “Off to See the Wizard,” and Dorothy-skipped down the trail.  We poked sticks into decaying tree trunks, and clambered over tree roots like stairs. We slowed to the speed of a 17-month-old to let Quinn practice her walking. We carried one child piggy-back, and another on our hip.  We took so many pictures that David asked if next time I could just leave the darned camera at home, already. We kicked at what we found on the ground and marveled over the size of maple…

Holy Cow, I Need to Start Editing These Things

That’s it.  I admit it:  I don’t get kids.  Three and half years of one-on-one experience with them, daily interactions, full-on intensives that revolve around hurt feelings and spilled yogurt and broken crayons, and I’m still clueless.  When I used to tell people that I taught high school students, their reactions were often along the lines of “Oh, wow.  I couldn’t do that.  Good for you.”  I never quite understood.  Teenagers were easy.  They were just almost-grown-ups you interacted with like adults, but knew they were really just kids.  Real kids, though?  Like, children children?  I have no idea what I’m doing, which is proven to me on a daily business by Daughter the Elder.

You know from my last (oh, I don’t know, 37?) posts that Saoirse is still struggling with sharing, with everything from attention to toys to the amount of bubbles in the bath.  This, of course, means that I’m struggling, because let’s face it:  I have no idea what I’m doing.  Wait, I already said that, didn’t it?  Well, it bears repeating.  Just don’t ever tell the kids.  When they find out, I’m sunk.

See, our dear Saoirse is, like I’m sure your child–what, not yours?  Oh.  I’m sorry–a sweet, loving child at heart, who gives hugs and kisses and “I love you”s away like beads to drunk girls at Mardi Gras (and Saoirse, if you’re reading this as a young adult while at the same time planning to go to Mardi Gras, NO).  It’s just the rest of her that is screaming “Mine! Mine! MINE!” most of the time.  In fact, just the other day, the girls and I were at the table, most likely at one of the myriad mealtimes we have over the course of a day.  Saoirse, who was sitting across from Quinn, got this sad little look on her face–mouth pulled down, eyes sort of misty-wet–and said to me, “Mom? I’m going to miss Quinn as a baby.  I don’t want her to grow up.”

I was a little surprised.  I’d just been thinking the same–that Quinn is more little girl than baby to me now, and it makes me sad, because I do love me my children as babies–but hadn’t said anything out loud to her.  She’s repeated the thought a lot since then, often giving Quinn a sidelong look and telling me she wants her to stay a baby.  I keep discovering all these bruises and scratches that will randomly appear on Quinn’s face.  Saoirse, I’ll ask her. Do you know what happened to Quinn?  “Oh,” she’ll reply.  “Quinn hurt herself.”  Oh, really.  “Yeah.  I tried to kiss her.”  Or, “I gave her a hug, and she hit a wall.”  (Needless to say, we’ve had a little talk about the use of violence as demonstrations of affection, though you try to tell that to the lady who approached me in Target.)

Yeah, About That

I was cleaning up some dishes, getting ready to finish dinner.  It’d been a glorious, brilliant fall day–like something out of a movie, with a clear blue sky and leaves crumbling underfoot and the smell of someone’s fireplace in the air.  I’d just come in with the girls, where we’d been outside, pushing them on their swings in the backyard.  They were playing together (together!) with some cars and books in the living room, quietly, contentedly. “Hey, Saoirse,” I said, suddenly curious. “Yes, Mom?” “What do you like to do most in the world?  What’s your favorite thing?” “Swinging!” No surprise, there.  I smiled at the two, sitting side by side, rolling the cars around the coffee table. “What’s your least favorite thing?  What do you not like doing at all?” “Sharing.” I looked a little more closely.  Saoirse had taken Quinn’s toy and replaced it with one of her own.  Another moment later would find her throwing a train across the room and hip-checking her little sister away from the…