The Parakeet loves all things creative. Bring on the music, the literature, the dance, the theater. Show her the paintings, the sculptures, and the architecture. She’s happy to encourage all cooking, designing and building things. Use those creative muscles.
When Little O wanted to check out a book from the library on how to draw Super Heros, she wasn’t phased. They spent many hours of the past week or so copying the shapes in the book and turning them into Heroes. The Heroes earned names like Green Bean, Growth Spurt, and Super Chef! Little O got out his never-too-far-away tape dispenser and began hanging them all over the house. He relied on mom for a lot of the shapes but eventually branched out on his own.
After visiting the Art Institute, he decided to add a self-portrait. He only somewhat self-consciously told his mother, “It might not look just like me because it’s from when I was a baby”.
He then became very fixated on the idea of having an Art Show. It would be on Easter Day. The families who were coming for Easter dinner would stay and watch his Art Show. He wrote a speech to tell them about how to look at his show. It started with, “Stop. Freeze. Unfreeze. I have some words to tell you….”
He brought paper and crayons to church all weekend to keep adding to his exhibition. His understanding parents allowed these drawings to cover the kitchen stairs and upstairs bedrooms.
The show went off without a hitch, don’t worry. He wouldn’t answer questions about his work, but maybe that just makes him a typical artist.
The talk that warmed the Parakeet’s heart the most though was to hear Little O talk of his work. On Saturday as he prepared he told her, “Mom, making art shows is my JOB. I will always make shows. I won’t forget when I’m a grown-up. I’ll fly ” (and then he held his arms out to show flying) “I’ll fly all over and I’ll bring my crayons and my paper and I’ll make shows inside places and outside places and everywhere they want to see art. I’ll make shows and shows and shows.”
Oh. Wow. Please, Little O, DON’T forget.
The Parakeet is so lucky. She watches Little O see things for the first time, struggle, give up, try again, give up, imagine, create, build and play.
In just the past two days, she’s watched him tape construction paper to a hat and create a contraption that would drop snacks into his hand when he demanded them. He called her into his room to watch the “show” he would perform in the dark, twisting jumping and rolling on his bed. He stepped into a cardboard box and became a robot that refused to walk up stairs.
He also has said a few things that made her cringe. She hears the worst of herself hurled back in a yell or scream with clenched fists. She is frustrated with him, but also sad because she knows he learned those behaviors from his parents.
Today, though, she heard the good.
He played alone with a few matchbox cars while she worked at the computer, but she could hear him speaking for both of his toys in the background.
“Oh, I just cant make it up this track”
“Yes you can”
“No I cant. Nevermind. I’m not going to do it”
” We don’t talk like that here. We say ‘I can'”
“You say ‘I can get up that hill’ and then you do it”
Then, that little car in his little story drove up the track.
The Parakeet felt warm in her guts. She knew they had this conversation many times and was so happy to see him translating it to his toys unaware she was listening.
In truth, he gave her strength. When a scary but exciting request came her way today – she decided, “I can do it”. And she will.
The past four years of the bird’s life have been full of learning experiences. Maybe that is part of being in your thirties. It might just be life, no matter your age. But the bird hasn’t been so in tune with it until now, until these years. She is keenly aware that time passes whether or not you respect it. That is motherhood, probably.
Watching your child grow forces you to acknowledge those four seasons going by over and over again. The tiny lines appearing on your forehead and neck are a subtle reminder that you wont actually be ‘forever young’.
God chooses interesting moments to express his power. The bird is not in control of all things. The timing in this Universe isn’t up to any individual. If the Parakeet could have programmed her life at this point – it might look a little different and a lot the same. She loves her family. She loves their urban life. She loves their community of friends. She loves working for herself and the varied routines of each day. She would have had another child. She’d be performing more. Maybe she’d take a few more fabulous vacations and decorate her house in a more stylish manner. Some things people can change. Others they can’t. Or they shouldn’t.
Like her son, though, the Parakeet is growing up. She is speaking her mind more each year, each month even. She is asking for what she needs and saying no to things that don’t feed her. She walked away from an obligation today and it felt great. She is writing. She is singing. She is making plans. She is appreciating small moments. She’ll walk to school and pick up Little O today. This way he can walk back in the fresh-fallen snow he’s been waiting for so long. So long in his four-year-old world. She’ll bring him snow pants and he’ll make a snow angel. Her Florida-raised self will attempt to help him with a snowman. They will be cold. They will shiver. They will laugh. She will take pictures. She will notice the moments.
Snow-flakes are important. They mark the time as much as any clock. Maybe more so. Lord, let the days be productive, but let no one miss the moments.
Living in Chicago is supposed to make you tougher. The Hot Dogs and Pizza will clog your arteries. The traffic will raise your blood pressure. The politics will harden even the most tender of heart and the winter. . . the gray skies and dropping temps that linger well into Spring will leave most all of the city’s inhabitants with a Vitamin D Deficiency if not full blown seasonal affect disorder.
Until this year. This winter has been mild. The days with snow fall could be counted on one hand and there was hardly anything that ‘stuck’. The Parakeet has scraped ice off the windshield once this season – and even that was actually while on a weekend trip to Missouri. In fact, Little O’s snow pants are hanging in his closet with the tags still on and the Keet is wondering how long will Costco grant her a refund.
Then, today happened. The high was twelve. Every radio station discussed how cold the weather felt and what the thermometer read. Every other post on facebook discussed the chilly commute to work – one friend even warning all in the area not to leave the house without long underwear.
The Parakeet took advantage of MLK Jr. Day to take Little O to the Aquarium. She dutifully put him in two pairs of pants, multiple top layers, two pairs of socks, a hat, a coat, and some of her gloves because of course he is four and his mittens are no where to be found.
They passed one neighbor who said, “man, it’s cold.”
They put their coats in lockers at the Aquarium where everyone was hugging each other and breathing into their hands and saying, “Wow, It’s cold”
The Huz came home from work today and immediately put his cold hands on the Parakeet’s face just to make her scream. Then, he got Litttle O on the belly who reeled away in that mixture of pleasure and pain.
Why do people choose this climate?
It might be pride – just to say you’ve been through something. There’s an art to layering leggings without looking like a cow. It is a skill to wrap a scarf leaving only your eyes exposed.
It might be to bond. So, when you DO decide to get out of the house and brave the elements at least you know you’ll have something to say to the other poor schmuck waiting on the bus, “Good GOD, It’s cold!”
Winter is here, Chicago – Just in case you were wondering what you’d accomplish this year.
The Huz had a very busy start to the year at work. So, the Parakeet and Little O found themselves together most of the first half of this month. They like each other – so it’s all right.
They planned a few activities, Little O went back to school, and they also did plenty of fun things at home.
Hearing of his Dad’s overtime, O often wanted to play “work”. He put on the Huz’ Union button from last year and set to making some scenery. Happy to participate in theater of all kinds, the Parakeet was ready to help. Because they had recently read Goldilocks and the Three Bears at school, Little O wanted to make that play. (they also had a field trip to the Chicago Symphony where the story was told with music – super cool). Little O was methodical about this work.
He wanted a table, chairs, and beds for the whole Bear Family. They found 3 different size chairs. They used 3 different pillows for beds, and then there was the issue of porridge. Little O found some cardboard from their over-crowded back porch. The Parakeet taped it together for him, but the issue of how to make the bowls was perplexing. Little O thought and then said, “I have an idea!” He described to the parakeet how he wanted holes cut in the top of the table. She did it. Then, he drew three bowls of porridge with tabs at the bottom of each one on another piece of card board. He asked her to cut those out and then he slid them into the holes on the table – not bad problem solving for a four-year old.
As he took a bath that night, the Parakeet told him, “Little O, I had so much fun playing with you today.”
“yeah, but you didn’t like when I got bossy with Parcheesi”
“No, I didn’t like that. But I loved making scenery with you. I thought it was super smart and creative how you decided to make those porridge bowls stick into the table”
“I wasn’t sure how we would make that and you figured it out. I just think you’re a cool kid”
He smiled, “O”
“I’m really glad I got you for my son”
“but you picked me, Mom”
“I didn’t get to pick you, but I tell you what — God must think I’m pretty special that he decided to give me you.”
He smiled again, “And God must have thought GB was pretty special to give you to her”
The Parakeet smiled back at him. Little O must think she is pretty cool, too.
So many people are doing good. There is so much talk about the crazy and the cruel, but there are so many still doing so much good.
Today Little O and the Parakeet spent the morning productive but in pajamas and all of sudden the time came when they just had to get OUT. So, after lunch they suited up and went for a walk to play on the playground in the sunshine. It was cold, but bright and there might not be a better time.
Little O decided he would leave in full Captain America costume. He put on the t-shirt, the button that speaks when you push it, his bright blue cape, mask and shield. Do not worry, he still had on a winter hat, gloves and coat. He also insisted on wearing his rain boots since they have some red like the super hero himself.
Little O does look quite fantastic in his mask. He is very serious holding his shield and walking up Western.
One man, who is delivering packages, comes back out of a store and thanks him for “protecting our neighborhood and our streets”.
Many passers-by call out to him, “Hi Captain America!”
The Parakeet does her best to stop the ‘rats’ and other bad guys on the playground and finally they are both pooped. They decide to take the bus back home. As they get on, the Parakeet digs around in her purse and realizes she does not have her wallet – and therefore no bus card.
She tells the driver, “we need to get off. We dont have our card”.
A nice woman runs to the front of the bus with her purse saying, “Just let me pay for you”
THe parakeet is grateful and asks Little O to tell her Thank you also.
Then, the driver says “You guys are fine. Sit down. It’s not every day I get Captain America.”
They sit and O asks why they get to stay. The Parakeet tells him its because he’s special and that Captain America gets a free ride. It’s a quiet bus, so that gets a laugh from most of the adults in the front section.
O is pleased with himself and he smiles. As they walk up the stairs to peel off their boots and hats at home – he turns to his mom and says quietly, “oh mom. what a great walk. EVERYONE loved my costume.”
Little O recently wrote on the wall with markers. Consequently, he is not allowed to use markers unless a grown-up is with him. On New Year’s Eve, the Parakeet was working to get the horror that was her room clean enough for their friends to put a pack n play in there for their baby. Little O wasn’t up for folding his parents clothes and opted to color. The Parakeet agreed as long as he was in the hall outside her room.
He colored a while. She spent an embarrassing amount of time unpacking, sorting, folding and picking up a wardrobe worth of clothes from the floor.
When she checked on the O, she noticed a bright pink A on the wall above the stairwell. When asked about it, Little O said he needed everyone to know this was a one “A” house. Whatever that meant it wasn’t a reason to write on the wall.
He spent five minutes facing the wall and had his markers taken away until further notice.
When they were going to bed for the night, he wanted to help with the prayer. He is usually content for Mom to pray, but he asked to learn something new and repeat what Mom said. Remembering something she once learned, the Parakeet tried to include some adoration, confession, and thankfulness before asking for something from God – the Parakeet reached confession and said, “I am so sorry for the bad choices I made today”.
Rather than repeating, Little O said, “Excuse me, mom”
“What if we didn’t make any bad choices today? I can’t say that”
” I seem to remember a pretty bad choice with some markers on the wall”
” Oh yes, OK…I’ll say this: Hi. God. I’m sorry for the one bad choice I made today”
Oh Dear. What are they in for with this one?