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you get what you need

February 9, 2012

The kids are next door at the neighbor’s. I am stirring a pot of soup on the stove – the kind we call “everlasting soup” that gets reinvented every night with a new vegetable. It’s twenty degrees outside and the sun is inching low in the west, poised to inject the clouds with pink magic.

I might as well have selected “melancholy mix” tonight on Pandora, what with Paul Simon crooning “Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken, and many times confused,” while the sun signs off for another night. I can hear Col and Rose and half the neighborhood kids shrieking happily next door while I stir my lonely and spattering melting pot of all the vegetables contained in the nation of our refrigerator. And there’s this cliche whooshing through my mind like wingbeats in a quiet sky. It goes so fast.

Maybe it’s that it’s winter and the outside world is open for business so briefly each day. And even once we’re suited up in our acres of layers, ready to venture outside, I feel a little like a shady real estate agent bringing Col and Rose to the frozen backyard. “Well kids, would you look at how that ice positively shimmers!”

Or maybe it’s that I actually miss the small people who’ve spent much of the day requiring the largest slice of my pie graph of patience. These small people who just traipsed out the door leaving the words, “can we pleeeeease go play with the neighbors,” hanging in the air like a portent of things to come.

Don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered, or driven to its knees,” Paul Simon ratchets up the sorrowful lament while I stir the soup with the microphone of my spoon. I remember anticipating the day that Col and Rose would be able to run independently with the neighborhood gang. For so long it loomed shinily on the far horizon of motherhood summits. And now it’s here.

And I love it, I do. I love that instead of paying babysitters while Dan and I try to have the cheapest date possible (yes, that was us eating a picnic dinner down by the river this summer), now we simply set up playdates with other families where nobody pays and everyone wins.

And this middle childhood—between the toddler years and the teen years—is like a sunny land-bridge spanning two stormy oceans.  Col and Rose are still so fundamentally sweet. Also, they think I know everything. Recently I was giving them a primer on yogurt-making, going on ecstatically about how the bacteria transform the milk into yogurt, and how—can you believe?—we have the same bacteria in our bodies that makes the yogurt! And then I mentioned that the bacteria were like little animals, but not actually animals, but not really plants either, but certainly alive.

“Well, what are they?” Col stops piecing legos together to ask.

“Well, I don’t actually know, they’re -”

“Of course you know. You studied the human body.”

“No, not really.”

“Sure you did. You taught us about it.”

“Sweetie, I studied blood so I could teach the homeschool co-op. If the human body was a glass of water, I studied one tiny drop.”

“Wellllllll,” Rose puts her hands on her hips, “you do know about some animals. You know about monkeys.”

Today the kids interrupted my shower to ask if they could eat their chocolate hearts before breakfast. Well, no. But at least they asked! Someday they’ll be tossing back low-quality booze in ridiculously large bottles in a park, if they’re anything like me at 16.

Rose streaks through the door, gulping huge mouthfuls of air while explaining, “we need our stuffed animals for the party!” She grabs sealy, baby sealy, rammy and polar bear and runs out the door, but her happiness and exuberance linger like perfume.

Paul Simon is followed by The Rolling Stones, warning me, you can’t always get what you want. Yes it’s true, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

* Ginger-ale fermenters: 2nd step now up and photographed!

23 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    February 9, 2012 8:13 am

    American Tune is my favorite Paul Simon tune. Perfect background for what you are explaining here! I get it, by the way! Totally get it. :)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 9, 2012 11:39 am

      I am so nerdy about American Tune that I sometimes listen to it over and over on You Tube, when I need a little infusion of melancholy poetry. I’m glad that you totally get it.

  2. February 9, 2012 8:34 am

    “And this middle childhood—between the toddler years and the teen years—is like a sunny land-bridge spanning two stormy oceans. ”

    Truer words have never been spoken. Mine are now 13 (girl) and 10 (boy) and so many days I think (of the girl)…I will never survive this. I have no idea how to help her handle her million hormonal emotions-why did I EVER think having children was something I could do?! And then my (still kinda little) guy of 10 years old and NOT all those hormones/emotions snuggles up next to me and needs me and it’s all okay again.

  3. February 9, 2012 8:54 am

    it always amazes me how you get it exactly right, every time, just what i need at the moment i read your posts. june turned four yesterday and it is so bittersweet, and this morning i felt myself missing the days that made me CRAZY, when she was so helpless and needy, now, seeing it through rose colored glasses, it was so sweet.

    you’re incredible.

  4. February 9, 2012 9:10 am

    That song has been sung to our kids since they were little…. whenever they got the gimmies…. they know the words so well that all one of us has to do sing is ” I saw her today…” and then everyone is laughing. While Soph was at music lessons yesterday I had this tiny 20 minute pocket of alone time. I usually write….but my oldest (15) started texting me random Oscar Wilde quotes and we spent the next 15 minutes discussing “cynic” and laughing at my inability to even read through this dark list of quotes he found online while doing English paper research. “I’ll share the good ones with you mom, you don’t wanna read most of this crap.” he said to me. I never thought I’d be a texting mama…. and now look at that. xo

  5. February 9, 2012 9:37 am

    So many times while pregnant with Theo I would hear “enjoy it, it goes so fast.” And now here we are reading and writing about how fast it goes indeed.

    Beautiful reading this morning. Thanks, Rachel!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 9, 2012 11:44 am

      I know Katie, I can’t tell you how many post-menopausal women told me to “love every minute of it because it goes so fast,” when Col was swinging from the rafters of the library and Rose was like a heat-seeking missile for my over-worked boobs, and I was like “whaaaat?” But now I know. And I suspect that in 5 years, I’ll understand even more.

  6. February 9, 2012 11:10 am

    There are many days when I wish I could just have an extra hour or two alone–maybe even a half day. And every so often that wish is granted. I have as much time as I want to clean the house and putter in the kitchen without any distractions, or best of all, to write my little heart out. But after just a while, I notice something strange: life feels so…meaningless. Kind of self indulgent and lonely without the lively beings that are my children around. I still need time alone every now and then, but understand the bittersweetness of it better.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2012 11:38 am

    How wonderful — more independent, but not less sweet or trusting. Although everything is changing, what a great foundation for the future!

  8. February 9, 2012 12:01 pm

    acres of layers… nation of our refrigerator… love this, love you.

  9. February 9, 2012 12:40 pm

    We love when our one & only has sleepovers. Not only do we a date night, we get a morning after. Dreamy. But man oh man do we miss her.

    That stones song is one of the anthems of my life.

  10. ike permalink
    February 9, 2012 2:31 pm

    From a grandparents view a similar thinking takes place. How much longer will those fun kids still be interested in spending time with us? –maybe till 10, 11 12 yrs old? We sure enjoy our time with them now! A reminder for all you younger folks, having an adult relationship with your children can also be wonderful and continuously evolving and you get (hopefully) to play with kids again.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 9, 2012 9:00 pm

      My dad! Such an awesome guy!

  11. February 9, 2012 2:51 pm

    I, too, am interrupted in lyric’s peace to hand out babies, stuffed friends and granola bars. In the years to come this is what I’ll miss most: “but [their] happiness and exuberance linger like perfume” as they no longer move in and out of rooms and have, in fact, moved on to a life more outside our home than in…
    Great post today. Enjoyed it with a lollipop from the bank. Oh, the little things.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 9, 2012 3:40 pm

      What is it about lollipops and banks? You can hardly deposit two cents at ours without them foisting lollipops on the kids.

  12. Melissa permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:05 pm

    I know!! Avi turned 4 yesterday and we volunteered at his preschool (because he shared his birthday with the trees for tu b’shevat and it was just as berkeley groovy of a seder as you can imagine–it was awesome) all morning and I hadn’t even packed a lunch for him because i’d just assumed he’d want to go home with us–but not only did he prefer to stay at school until 4, he wants to stay at school every day until 4. And when I pick him up at one on my day off or my half-day, he is rabid for a playdate with the neighbors. It’s so bittersweet and cliche and all the lovely things you said. And I appreciate you saying it so we can all gain comfort in the company!

  13. February 9, 2012 3:45 pm

    I think we might be setting the kids up for a lifetime of therapy because “American Tune” is one of our go-to lullabies. Hmm…

    I love what you say here about “middle childhood.” My oldest is four and I’m just starting to see glimmers of that magic mix of innocence and independence that you describe so beautifully here. Gorgeous post, Rachel, as always.

  14. February 10, 2012 10:29 am

    As a teen, I hated that Stones song. It sounded so … pessimistic.

    And now? I love it. It sounds so optimistic! You mean I might actually get what I need?

  15. February 13, 2012 9:21 pm

    Your floors are very clean, and well adorned with beer.
    I sometimes have a window of time between the ending of this, that or the other thing (all of those actually being the same thing, which is work), and going to pick up the kids from where I have deposited them, and though I mostly manage to eke out a ski or else something necessary, like putting oil in the very thirsty engine of the car, mostly, I miss the munchkins that insist on always talking at the same time, and still, still!, fight over my lap. I am at the same time titillated by the thought of a 4-day, all girl, no kid, canoe trip this summer…but I probably won’t go, because, holy crap, 4 days!, they will be teenagers when I come home, and no doubt smell worse than I do.
    Must get on the ginger ale wagon. Is there a remedial class?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 14, 2012 1:29 pm

      They really aren’t clean (8 human feet plus 4 cat feet in 800 square feet = never clean). But, they are often adorned with beer. Ginger ale is always in style, hopefully at least as long as your lap is for those 2 boys. xo

  16. February 14, 2012 2:29 am

    I love this post a lot.

  17. February 14, 2012 9:05 pm

    There is much beauty and truth in this post, and this part made me laugh heartily:

    “Maybe it’s that it’s winter and the outside world is open for business so briefly each day. And even once we’re suited up in our acres of layers, ready to venture outside, I feel a little like a shady real estate agent bringing Col and Rose to the frozen backyard. “Well kids, would you look at how that ice positively shimmers!””

    :) So perfect.


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