I often struggle when writing about my young kids because I want to perfectly describe them with poetic words and beautiful phrases. I feel like they deserve the likes of Beatrix Potter story-booking their childhoods. But I write about them anyway because I’ve yet to have the video camera rolling when Maggie says that hilarious one-liner, and the last time I went to snap a spontaneous photo of Magson pursing his bird lips at the bitter taste of Granny apples, my battery was dead. Plus, I’m always relieved when I get their childhood moments spelled out.
It shouldn’t be that hard; I love to write, and I inhale the fresh delights of having children daily—minus tantrums and whining. (At those times I exhale wearily.) Still, always, I want to remember it all. I want to memorize what they smell like when they come inside from summer play, their skin sun-screened and dirt-caked. I want to recall their little voices, like when for about two weeks straight, Magson and I had the same conversation all day long:
“Ajick ajick ajick a la CAH.”
“I know, you’re always talking about cars, aren’t you?”
“What, baby boy?”
“Ajick ajick ajick a la Ca-AAH.”
I savored that dialogue like a hidden stash of chocolate, but just this week our ritual conversation morphed. He’s still talking about cars (cahs) a lot, but those other particular jabbers have been replaced with different baby chatter, and I miss them.
A few weeks ago, Maggie wanted to go shopping with one tutu around her shoulders and two around her waist, her neck wrapped in an array of beads and her hair in a tangled net of every hair clip she owns. It was definitely a picture moment, her little body drowning in tulle, but my memory card was full and we were in a hurry to be out the door.
And then there are the moments when my camera, dead or alive, simply isn't there. As the kids and I were cleaning Maggie's room yesterday, we found all sorts of treasures as we sorted through the mess. One of them was a candy bracelet she'd bought with her piggy bank money at The Candy Shoppe downtown. She recovered her find and then presented it to me with such girly glee, I couldn’t help but get a little thrilled, too. But the excitement quickly faded as I realized she was now a distracted and handicapped cleaner with her wrist glued to her mouth. I was about to get after her, but was proud of myself for biting my tongue and letting her enjoy the treat.
I could hold back no longer, however, when Magson spotted the bracelet. I knew I was in for full-blown flailing and bashing on his end and a flood of tears on hers. I sighed as things were definitely headed in that direction. I did my robotic sweet voice and said, “No, no, Magson, that’s Maggie's.”
Then, just as I braced for the worst, things took a shocking turn. It was quietly spoken, so I didn’t catch it at first, but Maggie said, “It’s okay, Mom, Magson can have the bracelet.”
“No, no, Magson," I said again. "It’s Maggie's bracelet. Maybe she’ll--”
I stopped mid-sentence--frozen. Did she just say he could "have the bracelet?"
“No, Mommy!” she said much louder. “It’s okay, Magson can have the bracelet!”
As I praised her for being so selfless, I realized that I wanted to hit replay and watch that over and over again. It’s not like she never shares, but it shocked me that she would completely give away something so cherished. You can’t capture those moments on film, so in proud momma fashion, I had to write it down.
This morning I looked up from my notebook to check on the kids playing in the bathtub. I didn’t see Magson right away and so I craned my neck to look higher. There he was, his backside toward me. He was perfectly posed in the nude on the ledge of the tub and looking out the window. You can’t fetch the camera when your baby is perched in danger, cute as it was. So here’s what I want to remember: bubbly bum, dark russet legs, one foot twisted behind the other, and yummy, clean, squishy skin.
Now I’ll never forget.
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