Latest Spurts: Building dragons and being a classical/rock star

February 24, 2017

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from these last two weeks, readers!

While the girls have grown up enough that regular 3 a.m. visits are a thing of the past, occasionally Eight will still come to our room when she has a nightmare. Every single time she comes to our room, she heads straight for her father. It’s become something of a running joke in our house, the fact that even though I spend more time with her during the day she goes to him at night.

Last weekend my husband was on call, and after watching some TV we turned off our lights. Because it was Saturday, I decided to stay up and read on my Kindle. I had been reading for about 10 minutes when I heard our bedroom door open.

I turned and saw Eight coming into our room, and I called to her in a soft voice.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She either didn’t hear me or chose to ignore me. Instead, she went to her father. He groaned and muttered, “I just went to sleep,” but then realized that I wasn’t the one who had woken him up. He shook himself awake and offered Eight some comforting words, then walked her back to her room and tucked her in.

The next day, as Eight and I chatted about the incident, I asked whether she’d seen me awake with my Kindle.

“Yeah, I saw you.”

“So why did you go to Daddy instead?” I asked.

She grinned. “I don’t know. It’s a ritual, I guess.”

I had to grin back.

***

We’ve had many conversations in our house about what the girls want to be when they grow up. Eight has gone from wanting to be an engineer to a vet. Her latest career aspiration leans heavily in the direction of her new favorite TV show.

She wants to build mechanical dragons that people can actually fly.

She’s spent considerable amount of time drawing up her business plan on a piece of notebook paper, the ideas appearing on different parts of the page like a flight plan. She also shares her ideas with me when she and I go anywhere alone and her attention isn’t otherwise occupied. This week as we drove to her group cello class, she offered to give me one of her dragons.

“Oh, thank you!” I said. “Can it be purple?”

At first she refused. Apparently purple dragons are not possible. They aren’t true to life.

I refrained from telling her that as far as we knew, no dragons were true to life. I also couldn’t understand, I said, why she couldn’t make the dragons any color she wanted since her company was going to be building them from scratch.

“Because it doesn’t look realistic,” she explained semi-patiently. “It can be a gray-silver color, and I can make it have a purple eye.”

I kept negotiating. If I have to hear about dragons for the next 20 years I figure I deserve one in my favorite color. Finally, I managed to wear her down.

Fine,” she said, and in the rearview mirror I saw her put a hand to her head. “I’ll make you a purple one. Just make me work harder.”

Hey, I bet Bill Gates gave his mother a free copy of Windows. Isn’t this kind of the same thing?

***

After we finally settled the question of the color of the dragon, I asked her about the features of the dragon. Specifically, I wanted to know if the dragon would carry motion sickness bags in a pouch somewhere.

“No,” Eight said, “because the dragon is flying in the open air, and it won’t be in an enclosed space like a plane.”

I get that. Because she struggles with motion sickness on planes and I used to go through the same thing as a kid myself, it’s something I try to talk about whenever the opportunity presents itself. Call it training in a “mind over matter” kind of thing.

“What if I need a bag, though?” I asked.

“Well, then, you can go shopping at Walmart and bring some of those bags,” Eight said.

“What if the bag has a hole in it?” I asked.

“Well, then it’s just bad luck for the person you’re flying over,” she said, laughing.

***

On the way home from cello that day, Eight said, “I like cello better than guitar.”

This was news to me. My closet rock star liked the classical instrument over the one that, at one time, she declared was her only favorite? I tried not to let my excitement show too much.

“Really?” I said. “Why is that?”

“Well, because in cello I don’t have to play really long music like in guitar,” she said. “In guitar I have to play a whole page.”

My excitement dimmed. Of course this had to do with the amount of work involved, not with the instrument itself. I couldn’t resist busting the myth, though.

“You know you’ll be playing longer pieces in cello eventually,” I said.

“I know. But I like it better.”

Hmm. Okay.

“Do you want to quit guitar?” I asked.

“No,” she said right away.

So maybe the closet rock star just needs to keep rocking and also keep preparing to play Bach someday. I’m good with that.

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