December 12, 2014
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
For Thanksgiving we drove to Cleveland to visit friends. It’s a six-and-a-half hour drive, which gave the girls plenty of time to watch movies in the car. They also got the chance to do a little people watching.
We rode by a truck with the words “Just Married!” in the window along with a date of October of this year. Six must have gotten a better look at the driver than all of us, because after we passed the truck she made an observation.
“That guy in that car didn’t look too happy.”
“Oh, really?” I asked. “What do you think happened?”
“Maybe he and his wife got sick of each other.”
I managed to stifle a laugh, and when I looked at my husband he had done the same.
“You think so?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said. “Maybe they had a huge fight and just got sick of each other.”
Maybe. It’s been more than a decade since I got married, so I’m not up to date on the typical length of the honeymoon period anymore.
Kids have such a keen sense of observation. I know this, and yet I also forget it often. Until they point out something that reminds me once again about how closely they look at life.
The other day my husband was flipping channels on TV and accidentally switched between the satellite and cable. The screen filled with snow. My husband fumbled with the remote for a minute to figure out how to switch the setting back.
“Ants,” Six said.
I thought I knew what she meant, but I wanted to make sure. “What?”
“Ants,” she said. “The TV looks like it has a bunch of ants running all over it.”
I looked at the television. Sure enough: ants. Specifically, what ants look like when someone kicks an anthill.
Imagination. I love it.
On Monday I went out to lunch with some friends, and as I always do I took the opportunity to put on some fun jewelry. I suppose, though, that we’re now at the point where the kids know my habits and routines. They’ve probably figured out by now, for example, that I only wear fun jewelry if I’m going out somewhere. When I’m at home all of my jewelry—including my wedding band and any earrings—come off. I like to be completely unfettered at home.
After lunch I came home and took off my jewelry, dropping it on the kitchen counter. I got involved with a couple of small chores, and then got ready to leave again. When I brought the kids home we went through our after-school drill of the kids hanging up their backpacks and taking their lunchboxes into the kitchen.
I had begun going through the girls’ backpacks and leafing through their folders when Eight called to me.
“Mamma, did you go out to lunch today?”
I could hear the smile in her voice.
“Yes, I did. How did you know?”
“Because you always wear fun bracelets like this when you go out to lunch with friends. Who did you go with?”
I named the friends and I had to smile. Right now it’s a matter of lunch. If I ever pick up a serious vice, I’m going to have to get creative in hiding it.
On Tuesday evening Eight felt really warm, and the thermometer revealed she had a fever. She’s stayed home from school since then, and while she appreciates the alone time to read uninterrupted and watch whatever she wants on TV she definitely misses her little sister. That’s doesn’t mean they can forget the bickering, of course.
Last night, wanting to give Eight something different to do, I suggested the girls play checkers. As first Six moaned about playing, saying she had no intention of doing so. She hasn’t quite mastered the art of plotting moves ahead of time, so she often ends up losing and swore off checkers last winter.
I kind of maneuvered her into playing, because, of course, I had an evil plan. It’s the same evil plan all parents execute when they play games with their children. Except this time I had to make Eight the scapegoat.
When she moved to a position about three moves into the game to jump Six, I coughed in the most obvious of ways. Eight didn’t acknowledge the cough, but she moved her hand from the piece and picked another one. The second time she found a way to jump Six, I moved and gestured to Eight from behind Six’s head for her not to do it. She gave me a look of annoyance, but she complied.
I kept gesturing, and she kept skipping the opportunity to kill her sister’s men. At some point, of course, the game came to a stalemate. They had to start killing one other’s pieces in order for play to progress. This caused a fair deal of grumbling on both sides.
I had to leave the game to put the finishing touches on dinner, but when I came back to the board I got a pleasant surprise: both girls had the same number of pieces left on the board. I sat with them for about five more minutes to try to figure out a way around the problem, but both of them had enough empty spaces to edge around one another. I called it quits for both of them, declaring the game a tie.
As Eight gets older, I’m having more conversations with her about how to exercise patience and extend grace. An older sister, I tell her, has to do just that. I’m a big sister too, I remind her, so she can’t exactly refute my advice.
I hope, along with teaching the girls how to become strong women, that I can encourage them in their other relationships and roles in life too.