The One Hundred-and-Thirtieth Chart (Spurts)

June 13, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these special summer vacation Spurts, readers!

When Five is at home alone with me, she trails me everywhere and I try to stay sensitive to the fact that she doesn’t have anyone to play with. She had two whole days of summer vacation before Seven got out of school, and I had to find a schedule that worked for both of us. She’d started her time off from school, but I hadn’t.

One morning I sat with my computer and Five settled herself on our bed to watch a movie. I needed to finish an editing project before leaving for vacation, and I figured sitting with her as I worked offered a happy medium. As long as I comment on the movie occasionally this seems to work for her.

We waited for the movie to start, and I booted up my computer. The laptop’s fan whirred, and Five turned toward it.

“The computer sounds like it’s yawning,” she said with a grin.

I listened for a few moments and then nodded, impressed. “You’re right, it does.”

I love her imagination.

***

Apparently the movie viewing didn’t offer her anything outside the ordinary from her school schedule. At least, according to her perception of school.

“We don’t really learn anything in school,” she told me that morning as I packed Seven’s lunch. “We just color and watch movies and stuff.”

Wow. If she can “color and watch movies and stuff” and still learn how to do fractions and tell time and finish the year with a third-grade spelling ability, I’m all for this kind of school.

***

On the second day of her vacation, Five watched me put things together for Seven’s lunch in the morning. She took responsibility for her sister’s lunchbox, helping me by putting the turkey and cheese away. She also offered me (unsolicited) reminders.

Because the weather had started getting hot toward the end of the school year, the kids had asked for water bottles. After a frigid winter and a mild spring, I still hadn’t gotten back into the habit of filling the bottles and giving them to the girls every single morning. On the second day I forgot, I actually went to the kids’ schools to take their bottles to them.

So this day, as I packed Seven’s lunch, Five made sure to let me know I couldn’t make the same mistake again.

“Don’t forget Di-Di’s water bottle for school,” she said importantly. “You forgot it two days in a row.”

She held up two fingers to emphasize her point, and I wondered whether I’d get the “hands on the hips” pose next.

“I won’t forget,” I told her. “Now scoot. Let’s get ready to leave.”

I didn’t know whether to feel a measure of relief or chagrin, considering I probably would have forgotten the bottle again that morning if she hadn’t reminded me.

So I just played it “I’m the cool mom who remembers almost everything” vibe. I don’t know if I was that convincing. But I’m choosing to believe I was.

***

That morning as we drove home from dropping Seven at school (yes, this all happened before 8:30 in the morning,) Five talked about travel. I’ve chronicled her obsession with China, and even with time that fascination hasn’t abated. We saw a tour bus driving next to us, and she mentioned she’d like to go on a trip.

“I wish there was a car where you had a bed and a kitchen in it.”

“There is,” I told her. “It’s called an RV.”

“RV,” she repeated.

“It’s short for recreational vehicle. You can do all of those things—sleep, eat, even go to the bathroom in an RV.”

“Can I drive to China in an RV?”

I’m glad she sits behind me in the car. She didn’t see the eye roll. I managed to keep the sound of the eye roll out of my tone, however.

“No, you would have to put the RV on a huge ship,” I said. “You can’t drive to China, so you’d have to put the RV on a ship and wait for it to by ship to China.”

“That’s okay.”

“It would take a long time.”

“That’s okay, I can wait.”

Ah, youth.

***

The last big discussion of that morning revolved around Thanksgiving.

Yes, that’s right. The big holiday in the late fall. You know. Gobble, gobble, gobble.

“Can you make that cornbread for Thanksgiving this year like you did last time?”

“Um, it’s not going to be Thanksgiving for a while, but, yes, I can make it.”

I heard her signature “Yes!” that comes out with satisfaction and excitement in a tone so low it’s almost a hiss. It’s pretty cute, actually. What’s even cuter is that she often says it when she’s asking for the most mundane things, things she wouldn’t even have to ask for anyway.

“But you can’t just eat cornbread for dinner,” I said, teasing her just a little bit. “You have to eat something else.”

“I can eat mashed potatoes.”

“I thought you don’t like mashed potatoes.”

“I don’t remember what they taste like, so I can try them again.”

I’m glad we’ve instituted the “no thank you bite,” where we tell the kids to try a new food by eating at least one bite of it. If they don’t like it, they can say “no, thank you,” but they’re required to have at least a spoon or forkful before turning it down.

“What about green beans?” I asked.

“I didn’t like the ones you made last time because I like the ones with the little peas in them.”

Aha. I’d used frozen, not fresh. Once again my child amazed me with her attention to detail.

I guess that was an easy enough switch to make.

“I can make the ones with the little peas inside,” I said. “But you said you don’t like turkey. What about chicken? Would you like to try chicken instead?”

“Okay.”

I’m so glad we got that all out of the way. Never mind that I haven’t had time to think about what I’m doing in July. It’s good to know Thanksgiving is all taken care of.

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