7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 2)

— 1 —

I won’t take all the credit for the lack of snow in Baltimore this year. But this year our household was ready for a big snow that never fell. We had two pairs of snow pants and boots, a sled from last year that has only slid across grass, and child-sized shovels that our sons got for Christmas.

Every time a snowflake came down, Daniel would say, “I help shovel?” He only had one chance, and all we had was a dusting. Let’s hope he’s as eager next year—and 10 years from now. The shovels are in pristine condition. Our first two years as parents when we had a lot of snow, we slid Leo down the hill in a laundry basket.

— 2 —

Things I didn’t know about motherhood: Mothers are not just referees, chefs, and chauffeurs. They are also dictionaries. Our 5-year-old doesn’t know how to read, but he is eager to start writing. So I spend a lot of time spelling words for him at his request. The other day he asked me to spell “heart” so he could write “I heart” and then the names of everyone in our family. Then he asked, “Mama, how do you spell God?” and he wrote, “I heart God.” One day I’ll explain to him that “love” might be easier to sound out than “heart.” For now I’m just happy when he’s writing something pleasant—and something I know how to spell. It only gets harder from here.

— 3 —

We made a major breakthrough in our family this week—and I don’t mean Daniel’s learning to climb out of the crib. My sons take turns choosing songs as we drive. It sounds so simple. If, however, Child A chooses a song that Child B likes, Child B gets upset. It doesn’t matter which child does it. It doesn’t matter that I have explained that nothing is easier to share than a song. They both have had the same issue with this. I gave up trying to sort this out long ago.

This week I was astonished when Daniel picked a song and Leo politely said, “I also like this song. Can we share it this time?” By the way, I have no idea where he learned to use “also” that way.

Even more astonishing was that Daniel happily said, “OK.”

“This is wonderful!” I said. “I’m so happy you’re sharing this song!”

“Mama, I not talk to you!” Daniel said. “You look at the road. You will crash the car!”

I also can’t imagine where he could have heard that. Excuse me while I try not to crash the car.

— 4 —

God bless our pope emeritus and our future pope. If you’re looking for some pope-related activities to do with your children as we wait and watch for white smoke, you might enjoy this activity.

— 5 —

My parents took their Christmas tree down this week. Every family has its traditions. In my family we leave the Christmas tree up until my brother’s birthday, which was this week. He turned 32 and lives in New England, so they aren’t leaving it up for his benefit.

But it’s tradition. And yes, it’s a real tree. The boys and I helped chop it down this year.

So why do they keep it up for so long?

Well, the year we were awaiting the birth of my brother—my parents’ fifth child—the tree didn’t come down until March. I imagine there were other things happening. My mother decided it would be nice to keep it up for the baby to see. So they did. And now it always stays up through his birthday.

Some years the tree just barely makes it, but this year’s tree was quite resilient. Fire hazard? Nah. One of my sisters tried to set fire to pine branches using Christmas lights one year for the science fair, and they were surprisingly hard to burn.

— 6 —

I am so far behind on my movie viewing—decades, in fact—and yet I keep adding to the list. This documentary looks at the challenges of international adoption—not the parenting, but the actual process of adoption. I found the end of the trailer to Stuck to be particularly moving. One of these days I’ll actually see a movie.

— 7 —

When I was growing up, if one of our goldfish died, my mother gave us a handful of change and we walked to the pet store to buy a replacement. Then we’d slip the new fish into the tank before the youngest children noticed. I don’t know whether we ever fooled anyone.

When I learned that the pet rabbit at the boys’ preschool had died, I wanted to make sure my older son was OK. (I knew his little brother would be fine. I’m not sure he even knew the rabbit was there.)

As we drove home from school, I said, “That’s too bad that Benjamin Bunny died.”

“What?” Leo asked.

“Benjamin. The rabbit at school.”

“Oh, yeah,” Leo said.

“You talked about it in chapel today, right? Did you talk about where the rabbit is now?”

“Probably in heaven,” he said, matter-of-factly. “You know what?”

“What?”

“We learned that water bugs become dragonflies.”

“Really?” To me a water bug is a creepy black bug that you see at night in your kitchen, but Leo usually has his story right.

“Yes, Mama. We read a book about it. First they are water bugs and then they go out of the water and become dragonflies.”

“Wow. I didn’t know that.” And I was a little confused until I looked up the book later at home. He’s right. It’s a story to help children process grief. But I didn’t know that at the time, and I was trying to figure out whether he was sad.

“Were some of the children sad about the rabbit?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Leo said, “but I wasn’t. Mama, did you know that Robin has a helicopter like Batman’s?”

“Robin…? Um, no. No, I didn’t know that.”

I should be glad I know how to spell “heart.” They should really cover more ground in Motherhood 101.

For more quick takes visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.