I am sitting down to write. If I had a writing coach, she’d be proud of me. My glasses are spattered with baby spit. The floor is covered with toys and strewn blankets and crusted with spit-up milk, baby drool, the occasional drip of pee and mashed bananas. The table is covered with papers and debris. I did pick up the food, put it in the refrigerator and take care of the dirty diapers. The demands of hygiene have been met for the moment. Now, I’m going to write a few lines. That is the only way it happens with two babies in the house. I’m not even going to clean my glasses first. No procrastination is allowed.

Today I actually feel good for the first time since we got Marik Rye. That may have something to do with the fact that the sun has actually peeked out from the clouds for a half an hour. I think it actually is the first time I’ve seen the sun in two weeks and this is supposed to be summer. But my good feeling also has to do with the fact that I managed well enough with Marik and Shaye this morning that we went to the playground. It is a major hike to the playground, up an extremely steep hill for a few hundred yards and then more than a half a mile along the Bozkov ridge line. I got out my clunky stroller and put Marik in it and then hitched up Shaye with a kind of halter thing and put her on her no-pedals bike. The halter isn’t so much to keep her under control and near me. She does that reasonably well. It is for going down hills, of which we have many here. She does not yet know about going slowly and Dusan and I both have nightmare visions about her hurtling off one of the hills here out of control.

I had to pack her bike up the hill across the push-bar of the stroller, while Shaye wobbled along behind me and tried, with only moderate success, not to whine, because I had threatened and once demonstrated that if she whined we would go home and not go to the playground after all. Her general mode of operations is to whine the entire trip there and back and I have decided that it is too stressful and that she will either stop whining or we won’t go. She physically can walk much farther than this, as I have seen when she was motivated by something like ice cream. It is a hard to be a “big kid” at two and a half but neither of us has much choice about this. We will have to be able to leave the house in the next few months and without the ability to drive this is the only way to do it.

I am a firm believer that a little hardship, as long as it is real and not arbitrarily imposed, is good for children. I have always felt glad that I was not surrounded by toys and electronic entertainment and that I knew how to work physically from a young age. The first has meant that I know how to entertain myself anywhere under virtually any conditions. I am never bored. And I learned a lot of basic techniques for making toys. The later means that although I am slightly overweight and coming on to middle age, I can still haul an old-fashioned stroller, a very large 10-month-old baby, a toddler bike and a toddler, up a very steep hill in the muggy August heat and not collapse. So, I don’t feel very bad that Shaye has to walk farther than most children her age, because I can’t see well enough to drive. I doubt she’ll actually thank me for it someday, but she will have strong legs.

In any event, we finally reached the playground with a whole half an hour left before we would have to go home for lunch and naps. There was another mother there with a toddler and a baby. One might think that she might engage in conversation, but no. She did actually say, “Hello” in a nice and reasonable tone, which doesn’t always happen. However, she was pushing the teeter-totter up and down with her hands so that her daughter could ride it and I asked the little girl if Shaye could share it with her, so that her mother wouldn’t have to work so hard. The mother immediately stopped and drew the little girl away, saying, “I don’t think so. She’s just a bit…” The little girl did look nervous and was very willing to leave, so perhaps she was “just a bit” something. That was the end of any and all conversation and we played parallel to each other for a half an hour with Shaye making occasional attempts at communication with the “aliens”. In the process I did discover that Marik and Shaye can actually share the teeter-totter. Marik can’t stay on yet by himself but he is really heavy for his age, so if I hold him on I don’t actually have to work at pushing the teeter-totter up and down, like the other mother did and like I have done many times with Shaye, when there were no other children to play with.

The teeter-totter problem is a microcosm of the reasons why we wanted Marik Rye. As difficult as it is for me to understand why. We live in a place where people do not communicate or play much outside of their nuclear family and well-established friendships. So, Marik and Shaye will have to be each other’s ballast on the teeter-totter for some time to come.

When it was time to go home, Shaye left without too much struggle and only whined most of the way home, rather than the entire way home. We were probably quite a sight coming off steep Bozkov hill. I turned the stroller around backwards and braced my back against the pushbar. Then, I lowered Shaye by her harness on her bike down the hill before me, while the stroller bumped along on my back. I was actually able to walk a moderately long distance with two small children. I wish I had a picture and I will have to get Dusan to take one before the kids grow out of this stage.

Alright. I did it. I wrote. Now, I can go make myself some tea, clean my glasses and hang up the wet laundry. I hope more days will be like this in the future. I am really starting to appreciate Marik Rye, even if my emotions are too confused to honestly say I feel passionate love yet.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Peter Farnam
    Aug 02, 2011 @ 16:20:54

    You’re still a glamazon! Nice analogy with the teeter totter. I agree with your theory about “a little hardship”.


  2. Nathaniel Farnam
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 06:36:12

    Nice trip- way to get the kids to the park! We seriously need to get you a double stroller!


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