Col and Rose are deep in holiday planning, which simply means trying to keep straight the order of winter holidays, as if we might pull a fast one and skip over Christmas. Rose is already nostalgic for the salad days of Halloween, while Col is stacking Christmas against his January birthday and trying to recall how Santa Claus fits into our family.
For Col and Rose, time is this slippery thing that expands and contracts without warning. The unit of one week seems so arbitrary when Rose wonders wistfully when it can be Tuesday again so we can go back to the pool, even while we’re in the locker room toweling off the very chlorine of a Tuesday swim.
Col spent five minutes this morning trying to recount this specific memory. “I was building a lego airport…Rosie knocked down the tower…and then we ate apples in the bike trailer. Remember?” Dan and I scrolled through our flimsy mental archives, only to discover Col was talking about yesterday!
I love this about childhood, this loose and carefree grasp of your very own life. The way you can fill your mind with legos and kitty purses until you collapse in a midday nap while some adult is fretting over dinner and real holiday plans.
Even on the way to the dentist last week, Rose asked “how many more days until we go to the dentist?” Which is one of those questions that just makes us both more confused. Col explained, “Rosie, we’re already going there right now,” which cleared things up until Rose asked, “but how many days have we been waiting to go?”
Every anticipated event has a countdown. “How many days now, until Baba and Nana come to visit?” Rose will ask both before and after rising from a nap. Someday these kids will learn to read a calendar and it’ll be like the discovery of fire: there’s these little squares that keep track of time and you don’t even have to count on your fingers!
I understand time less than ever now that I’m a parent. How does it lurch through summer to the first day of kindergarten, and then hobble along on dark winter evenings when the clock seems to go backwards between dinner and bedtime?
Col says “I can remember Rosie as a baby, but only in pictures.” And I have the same problem. Rose spent much of her first two years wearing down a notch on my hip, but I can’t conjure the sound of her toddler laugh or the particular weight of her infant body cradled in my arms, converting breast milk into chubby thighs. Col and I spent weeks in the NICU trying to achieve breastfeeding success (which we did!), but I can’t remember the feel of his baby blue eyes locking on mine, even though those exchanges were the fuel that charged me through those hospital days.
All I know is right now. That as I write this Rose is 3 1/2, wearing a kitchen cape (apron) and leotard, placing bandaids on Col’s face for his “ear inspection.” It’s a little heartbreaking–this forgetting–but also perhaps like eating an amazing dessert; you can’t reminisce about yesterday’s meal when your fork is plunged into the very chocolately deliciousness of the present moment.
Last night at dinner Col told us how his kindergarten class made fossils with mud and flour and it would take a very, very long time for them to dry – like two days.
How does time shapeshift in your world?
Oh, and it’s Monday. Yay! Here’s your weekly installment of San Juan Table, in which I share how to grow DIY gourmet greens for less than $2 week.