mercredi, septembre 27, 2006

Love's mystery

Last night, as I was cleaning up the dinner dishes left over from our applesauce and broccoli binge (we girls like to eat weird stuff when we don't have fellows around), Sian came into the kitchen. We had returned from the library about 20 minutes or so before that, and it was rapidly getting towards bedtime. Water dripping from her brown hair, blue eyes determined, she sat down at the kitchen table. Before she jumped into the task at hand, she warned me not to laugh at her. One thing I have learned from being a mother is that whether the questions are large, random, or just moderately off the wall to an adult, kids just hate being laughed at...wouldn't you? I put down the plates, dried my hands, and walked over to her chair. "Mom, why do you love me?" she asked. Stunned, I looked at my eleven year old daughter as though she had just taken up an endowed chair in the philosophy department of some major educational institution . Do you mean why do I love or you or what makes you lovable? I stammered. "I've always loved you." You mean that you love me beause you are supposed to? she asked with a little apparent disappointment. Wondering if I could say something that would illuminate the alchemy of a parent's attachment, I babbled about having loved her from the moment she was born, and all of the ways in which that love manifests itself in protection, hope, pride and discipline. I'm not sure I came any closer to analyzing the roots of love. I'll have to ask Sian if she got anything from our conversation. Returning to her room later to wish her good night, I told her that part of the reason I know how to love her was because my parents had taught me how to be loving. "Sleepily she lifted her lovely eyes to my face and asked: "Does that mean you are teaching me?" With a mixture of terror, honesty and desire, I answered "Yes. I hope so."

dimanche, septembre 24, 2006

First love

I'm not a sitcom type of single mom beset with comedic adventures involving eccentric neighbors, screwball romances, and precocious kids. In fact, I don't even like to call myself a single mother, because it implies that I'm doing most of the work of rearing Sian and Colin myself. To me, that seems very unfair to their dad, who is so involved in their life. That being said, I do run my household a little differently now than when we were married. In general, I tend to be less lenient about such items as computer time than their father is. But I did, in a moment of temporary insanity, tell my children that they could stay up in bed as late as they wanted to if they were reading a book. No, I did not make sure all of the books had won literary awards, or appeared on some reading list of great books. Recalling what great pleasure fiction had given me as a child, I just wanted my children to grow up to love escaping into a book. Although Colin would rather play some arcane computer game than read a novel, he is a facile reader. His father observed that our son is not bothered by discovering words he has not learned-he just navigates around the word and moves on. On the other hand, Sian has long looked at reading as a duty rather than a pleasure. She was so opposed to it that we thought she had a reading problem. In hindsight, it appears that Sian had simply not met the "right" book. A libraria's recommendation led her to a novel about Doll-People...and my little girl fell in love with a novel for the first time. On school nights, the over head lamp was on so late that I had to go into her room and tell her that I was breaking my own rule-no reading past ten o'clock on school nights! I hope that this love affair is merely the first in a long line of literary engagements-we shall see. I wonder what other crazy rules I can come up with.