The One-Hundred-and-First Chart (Spurts)

October 11, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

Last week we invited for dinner the college-age daughter of some family friends.  She’s a senior at the university here in town, and because her parents live outside the country for part of the year we thought it would be nice to host her for a homemade meal.  She’s a college student, so I knew she wouldn’t pay too much attention to the finer details of the décor of the house.  But I decided to let her impending arrival motivate me to hang up the last few pictures that had waited their turn with hammer and nail after our move.

I went through the motions quickly.  I’d spent quite a bit of time before last Friday thinking about where I wanted to hang the frames, so it was more a matter of just doing it.  Within 20 minutes all four pictures hung from various locations, and they managed to add a little something to our living space.

When Seven came home from school, she confirmed my feeling.  “Wow, pictures,” she said.  “Now this looks like a house.”

Who knew such a little thing could make such a big difference?

***

One day the kids finished their dinner faster than the adults.  They put their dishes in the kitchen sink and came back to the dining table to spend some time with the grownups as we ate.  Five came to me and stood by my chair on my left side.  She put her arms around me and gave me a hug.

I leaned down and kissed her on the top of her head.  She turned and placed her cheek on my shoulder.

“That went all the way down to my heart,” she said in a burst of affection.

“Aw, thank you!” I said, realizing that my daughter had given me a gift in her shy words.

She’s said the same thing to me two or three times since then, and it has the same effect on me every time.  I love that Five has slowly began sharing her feelings with us.  I can’t wait to hear what else she has to share with us in the future.

***

Earlier this week the girls watched The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, a favorite.  When we discovered this show almost two years ago, at first I thought it just possessed entertainment value.  But this is based on Dr. Seuss, after all.  I should have known even before we watched it the first time that the show would contain as much—or more—educational material as it did entertaining content.

All that to say that if the kids request it and they have time, I don’t hesitate to find the remote and scroll to Cat on the DVR.

So Five and Seven sat cuddled together on the sofa watching Cat and Nick and Sally.  I started straightening up and listened idly as Cat, Nick and Sally, and their trusty Fish talked to a koala bear.  Suddenly I heard something new for me.

“I didn’t know koala bears had pouches like kangaroos,” I said, interested.

Seven looked at me.  “They’re marsupials.”

Oh.  Right.  Marsupials.  That explains absolutely everything.

***

When the library launched its reading campaign for kids at the start of the school year, Seven signed up with enthusiasm.  Five, my closet bookworm, shrugged and signed up with her age-appropriate version of, “Sure, whatever.”

In an effort to encourage kids to read more, the library is holding monthly drawings between September and December.  Children who have read 20 minutes for 25 days out of the month can enter their name in each drawing for the chance to win one of a select group of books on display in the children’s section.

Seven, my bookwork in the making, loved the idea of trying to win a book.  Five didn’t care much.  But when she discovered that she could read her sister’s books, she suddenly started taking a little more interest in the drawing and the contest.

Do you see what comes next?  At the end of September both girls submitted their names for the drawing.  A few days later I got an email from the library: Five had won the drawing.

Irony in motion here.  We tried to cushion Seven’s feelings as much as possible, but there’s no really easy way to say “You lost” without it sounding just like that.  When Five and I began (albeit quietly) making plans for going to the library so she could pick out her prize, Seven looked at us.

“You guys can go without me.  I don’t want to go there and cry in front of everyone.”

“Come on, [Seven], you wouldn’t really cry in the library, would you?”

“Well, no.  But I feel bad.”

We talked it through, and she feels better about the whole thing now.  But I know she’s holding her breath for the drawings in October, November, and December.  I wonder what’ll happen in those drawings and how Seven might take any future losses.  It’ll be interesting to see how Five handles them too.  Maybe Seven can bolster her little sister through those times.

At least she won’t cry in the library about it.

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