April 26, 2019
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last month, readers!
During a recent weekend, as I moved around in the kitchen to make lunch, I went between the stove and the kitchen counter several times. Ten meandered into the traffic pattern I’d established. Because this child of mine is just a touch accident-prone, I try to steer clear of her when there’s hot liquid or over-sized pans involved.
“Move,” I said as she crossed my path yet again. “Out.”
She moseyed to the end of the counter and watched with an impish grin as I came to put dishes down.
“But, Mamma,” she said, innocence personified, “I can’t do that until college.”
It took me a moment to understand what she meant, and when I did I realized I didn’t have a good enough response.
These kids, I tell you. They’re getting the better of me every single week.
On Monday Ten came downstairs humming snatches of the song Don’t Stop Believing by the 1980s group Journey.
“What made you think of that song?” I asked her as I made sandwiches for lunches.
“It’s my go-to song when I have no other song in my head,” she said.
Oh. I didn’t know we were supposed to have certain songs for those times. You know, when we don’t have other songs on a loop in our brains.
A few weeks ago as I drove Ten to a friend’s house, we talked about people living to old age.
“Bade Papa was 97 when he died,” I said about my maternal grandfather who just passed away in November; I almost managed to get through the sentence without a hitch.
My daughter sat in silence for a beat.
“How are you doing with all that?” she asked.
“You know, the fact that he…died. Are you better?”
I suppressed a sigh. “I don’t think it’s necessarily something you get better from. Grief is more like something you learn to live with over time. You just get used to it being a part of your life, and you learn to accept every day that that person isn’t there anymore.”
“I know how that feels,” she said evenly.
I knew she was thinking about her beloved third grade teacher who moved away at the end of that school year. The teacher left because of an incredible job opportunity for her husband, but Ten treated the entire situation almost as if it were a bigger finality. And though she’s adjusted to the idea that Mrs. B. no longer lives in town, she still misses her with a ferocity that she expresses at the most unexpected times. I’m glad she’s learning to manage her feelings better, but I still hate that she had to endure saying goodbye to someone she loves.
In recent weeks, Ten’s love-hate relationship with her cello has mellowed out to something between the two extremes. Maybe it’s because she spends all of her highest and lowest emotions on the soccer field and comes home more able to look at life even-keeled. Maybe she’s actually starting to admit that she likes the cello more than she ever let on. (I’m kind of hoping for the latter, although I realize the former is the likelier scenario.)
Earlier today when I picked up the kids from school, we pulled out of the parking lot and headed in the director of the cello teacher’s studio. The kids chatted about what they’d done in school. Ten had a mini field trip where she learned survival techniques (the “light-a-fire-from-scratch/use-a-compass-to-figure-out-where-you’re-going” kind.) Twelve spent part of the day walking the school grounds with her classmates as they picked up stray trash.
“I think I’m deaf in one ear, it was so windy today,” she said, tugging on her earlobe a bit.
I agreed. Temperatures here in Central Illinois have increased to a lovely spring-like mid-60s, but when the wind speeds hit 30 mph, even that 65-degree weather can feel chilly. Not to mention the difficulty in performing simple tasks, like keeping a hat on your head or even walking down the street.
“You know, I’m kind of looking forward to the cello recital tomorrow,” Ten said out of the blue.
I did a double-take and sneaked a glance to my right at Twelve; she looked just as startled.
“That’s good,” I said in a mild tone. “What’s making you look forward to it?”
She mentioned the name of a piece that some of the kids would be playing in a group, and I voiced some inconsequential agreement.
“I definitely think I’m going deaf in one ear now,” Twelve murmured.
Neither of us said anything more to Ten about it. We both know that to make a “big deal” about any of her thoughts will only incite a defensive response. But it’s nice, like I said, to know that she’s slowly coming around to the cello. A good life, I believe, includes a variety of experiences, and this could be part of Ten’s mix.