Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Random Act of Kindness

We’ve been in our new house for about two weeks now. Though our efforts to unpack and settle in were slightly derailed by the snow storm, boxes are slowly disappearing and things are starting to fall into place. We received three separate shipments over the course of a week, including a load of our stuff that had been in long term storage since we packed out of our townhouse in Florida. We hadn’t see the stuff in six years, so there were some surprises, including a new queen mattress and box spring we didn’t even know we owned and a kitchen table and chairs which we actually needed for our new house. Also, much to Elise’s joy/fright/dilemma were two boxes of my old LPs, but she kindly embraced them and put them on center stage in our new home and even bought me a cool, new record player for our tenth wedding anniversary to listen to them on.

We took a break from the unpacking to get out and about a little bit. We were still feeling the lingering effects of cabin fever, too, so on Saturday we made a chilly trip to the farmer’s market where Elise and I sampled a Turkish flatbread stuffed with spinach and cheese reminiscent of Sitti’s what we called at the time ‘veggie patties’. I wasn’t a big fan then, but these were delicious (and warm!). Point won for developing palates.

On Sunday, we drove to Eastern Market in DC. The depth of the market was a little disappointing. There were a few vendors at the flea market outside, but we didn’t see the breadth of furniture or other offerings Elise recalled being when we had visited before. The kids did spend some time ogling the pig parts at the butcher.

For the past eight years, our days have been clearly delineated into a ‘before nap’ part of the day and a ‘post nap’ part of the day. Most everyone else calls it ‘morning’ and ‘afternoon’, but to Elise and I, the all-important nap is what defined each and every day. Our entire day was planned around the kids napping. If they missed nap, or slept in the car, more likely than not, they would be complete raving lunatics by five o’clock in the afternoon. When Sam missed nap, he literally was like a patient in an insane asylum; you even had to watch what you said around him, lest you send him into a fit of rage or panic. It was like walking on egg shells. Some might have thought us a little bit obsessive about protecting the sacred nap time, but, to us, it was the sun around which all other parenting revolved. It gave us a crucial respite in busy days. Many days, we were just trying to make it to nap, doing whatever we could to wear the kids down enough so they would sleep, and we could enjoy a few precious minutes of quiet. On long morning drives, we would will the children not to fall asleep in the car, because we knew if they did, they wouldn’t take a nap when we got home, and we’d be screwed.

But, alas, Sam is eight, and our napping days may soon be a thing of the past, though Clementine still naps regularly. Heck, all three kids will if pressed hard enough. Pete has long fought naps the hardest. In India, I used to lay with him every Saturday afternoon to force him to go to sleep (most Saturday mornings, I had gone for a long run, so I needed the nap as much if not more than they did).

Though we will miss the napping days dearly, it is nice to go out for the day and not necessarily have to rush down to put a baby down for a nap. Now, we can plan activities that span across the nap, bridging and unifying the ‘before nap’ part of the day and a ‘post nap’ part of the day. Now, when planning our day, we can do it like most people…plan the entire day and not just two halves of it.

So, with this in mind, we drove from Eastern Market to the Mall. On a whim, we decided to go the National Gallery of Art to see a photography exhibit that I had been wanting to show Elise. Our kids were some of the few there. I don’t know if the appreciated all the art they saw. They were mostly well behaved, and I do know they got a kick out of all the tizus on the Greco-Roman statues.

On the walk back to the car, Elise and I were following Sam, Pete, and Clementine as they weaved and wrested their way down the Washington Mall. Another family had stopped several feet ahead of us. The mother was bending down to console her daughter in the stroller who was visibly very distraught, though it was clear the mother didn’t know why. Before either Elise or I had any idea what was happening, Sam picked up a blue plastic sand shovel at this his feet and sprinted toward the girl and her mother. He returned the shovel to the girl, and she immediately stopped crying. The mother thanked him. Sam smiled and ran back to us.

I was beyond impressed. Before I could even figure out what was going on, Sam had spotted a problem and—with cat-like reflexes—fixed it. His instinct was like steel. He was like Superman. Seriously.

We let him skip nap when we got home. 

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