The Eighty-Second Chart (Spurts)

May 10, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

Last week Four drew something and brought her picture to me in the kitchen.  Her big sister followed her, and Four began talking about her cephalopod.  I had to hear her say the word two or three times before I even understood it.  She pointed to this cephalopod and described its actions in the picture.

Finally, I had to ask.

“What’s a cephalopod?”

She turned to me with a mix of surprise and assumption in her eyes.

“A squid,” she responded, clearly wondering why the heck I’d asked.

Oh, sure.  A squid.  Right.  Cephalopod; squid.  Same thing.  Of course.

***

Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself when I try to teach the girls something.  I remind them, scold them, cajole them, yell at them, and (occasionally) cry a little bit when I feel like nothing I’m saying has entered their heads.  But once in a while they surprise me.

We’d gone to one of our favorite lunch haunts last weekend—Sweet Tomatoes—and we enjoyed our salads (I know, my kids are weird; they actually love salad.)  Of course, anyone who has eaten at Sweet Tomatoes knows that the dessert bar always provides kids with a strong incentive to eat the healthier items first.  I guess my kids aren’t that weird after all.  They enjoy the ice cream along with everyone else, but ice cream always produces a few sticky hands and faces.

After lunch we continued to sit and chat for a few minutes, and I saw Four do something that we’ve done countless times with the kids.  She reached for the straw in someone’s water cup, trapped some water in the straw, dropped some of the water on a napkin, and wiped her mouth with it.

I watched her and directed my husband’s attention to Four.  He smiled.  At some point when the kids were young, we’d come up with the water-on-a-napkin trick when we needed to clean their faces in a pinch.  I never thought the kids had paid such close attention to do the same thing for themselves.

Like I said, sometimes my girls surprise me.

***

With a job change and a move to Illinois in the offing for this summer, we spent one Sunday making hotel reservations for the drive from Salt Lake to Central Illinois.  The girls, of course, are ecstatic that we’ll be staying in (at last count) nine hotels in ten days.  They’re less thrilled about the long driving, but we’ve tried to break up the journey so that we aren’t driving more than about six hours a day.

Still, the move has become a topic of conversation that comes up frequently.  One day as I helped her in the bathroom, Four suddenly said to me, “Mama, when we drive to [Illinois,] I’m going to ask, ‘Are we there yet?’”

She followed this up with a giggle.  I couldn’t help sighing inwardly.  If she’s already got this on the agenda, I can only imagine what the actual drive will be like.

***

I surprised Four with a trip to the zoo after school on Wednesday, just her and me.  I let her pick what animals we would see, and as we made our way toward the giraffes we walked around the cordoned enclosure where construction crews have begun work on the new African savannah portion of the zoo.

The new section won’t open until next year, and by then we will already have moved to Illinois.  Four, our resident animal lover, expressed her disappointment that we won’t see the lion and other new animals the zoo will acquire for the exhibit.  Still, she didn’t let her disappointment get her down.  After discussing it for a few minutes, she skipped on her way to the giraffes.  The trip to the zoo itself made her jubilant enough to forgive any infractions with ease.

I thought the matter had ended until yesterday when I picked her up from school.

“What did you learn about today?” I asked as we drove home.

“Lions,” she said.  “And do you know what the mommy lion does?  She does all the hunting…”

She relayed to me all the facts she’d learned about lions, and then she contented herself with looking out the window and listening to the radio.  But when we pulled into a parking space in our complex and I turned off the engine, she piped up from her car seat.

“Mama, can we move to Africa right now?  So I can watch lions pouncing?

I laughed softly.  “Don’t you want to have lunch first?”

“No,” she said.  “I can have an African savannah lunch.”

Well, never let it be said that my daughter aims too low in her life goals.

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