She consistently identifies yellow and purple, and sometimes green, and every time I nearly jump up and down applauding, I am so delighted by her learning. We all are; she is in the midst of a magic, golden age. We hardly notice the hard behavioral stuff because we are so taken with her new compentencies, which she seems to aquire by the hour and is in turn delighted by, and then again, she is delighted by our delight. Back, forth, back, forth, so many grins erupt in our family every time she strings together a little proto sentence. Papa, read me! Look, Mama, I draw! What a great system.
So this is one of her new favorite places to be: standing at the kitchen table, preferably alongside her siblings, which allows her a sense of comraderie as well as the occasional opportunity to reach over and mess up whatever they are working on.
She even likes to stand there and draw while I make dinner, which is a miracle that I should be thanking God profusely for. But sometimes I hardly notice, because at that hour the kitchen can feel like a maelstrom. The quiet sensory pleasures of simmering rice and chopping vegetables cannot compete with the nonstop voices, the flare ups of competition, the constant need for my attention. Eventually Beatrice joins in the action. I've been at work, they've been at school; they haven't seen me all day. I have to listen to what happened at gym, see what's under this Band Aid, look at how amazingly this top spins. Now. I wonder how many times I hear a plaintive MAMA! between 5 and 6 o'clock?
Is it always like this? Are we simply adjusting to work and school routines, and eventually I'll be able to tolerate all the voices heading in my direction at once, and the children will (hopefully) be more peaceful in reconnecting with everyone at home? (Say yes. Please.)
Tonight Frances was pacing around the first floor of the house while reciting a poem at an uncomfortably loud volume (her preferred mode of memorizing something - pacing while nearly shouting it). I'd ask her to speak more quietly, she'd try for a line or two, but then her voice would shoot right back up. OH HARK, OH HEAR! HOW THIN AND CLEAR!
Gabriel had taken apart a pull-back car and was fascinated by the mechanism inside it. He'd poke my arm urgently until I looked, showing me how one aspect of it worked, then minutes later return to show me something else, then to show me how he put it back together, then to show me how one might create a car using the same components arranged differently.
And Beatrice was at the table, in her spot, muttering draw draw, eyes eyes, draw eyes. She'd look at me when her concentration broke and demand Mama, draw, Mama, sit. Sit here.
At one point, while the frozen spinach and cauliflower simmered in some last bits of tomato sauce, I did. I sat and drew a picture with Beatrice, while the Tennyson poem came in and out as Frances marched past again and again, and Gabriel brought yet another incarnation of his car study for my investigation. These are all worthwhile pursuits that might make another parent glow with pride and pleasure, yet in their simultaneity I felt utterly exhausted by them.
By bedtime, things quieted down; we'd read together and I'd regained my composure. Somehow, I made it through. Oh friends, I suspect I join in a chorus of parents - generation upon generation stretching back through the mists of time - when I say this: good gracious, that dinner-making hour is grueling.