October 12, 1983
Scene played out today
I have just finished changing Jamie's diaper, and now I've started changing Kacie. Jamie lays on the floor next to Kacie, waving her legs around in the air and watching me tend the baby.
Suddenly she starts pulling at her plastic pants. "Pot-pot?" she says, hopefully. She wants to go sit on her potty chair. So far that's all she does - she just sits on it. "Not right now, Jamie," I tell her. "I just changed you."
She becomes insistent. "POT-POT!" she says. She tugs harder at her diaper. "POT-POT."
"I'm changing Sister!" I snap at her in exasperation. It's been a long day.
Jamie sits up and shoots Kacie a murderous look. Then, quicker than a blink, she picks up a little metal spaceship toy and throws it at her little sister, hitting her squarely on the head. Thunk. For one long moment the three of us are frozen. Then Kacie's little face crumples up and she howls in pain and surprise. Jamie sits there and looks at me, fearfully.
I want to scream but I don't. It takes every ounce of willpower I have. "Go to your room!" I say, picking up the crying baby and glaring at Jamie. Jamie blinks, swallows hard, looks at me to see if I mean it. I do. My face is closed and hard. She grabs her Liddle Diddle and runs out of the living room; halfway down the hallway I hear her begin to sob. Her bedroom door slams shut.
I sit on the floor with Kacie in my arms and I feel like crying myself. I know I handled the situation badly. Kacie's sobs gradually lessen; she wasn't really hurt, just surprised. I kiss her hot damp little face and rock her gently until she's calm.
Two minutes later, Jamie is peering around the corner, holding Kacie's shoes. "Shoes!" she says, in a bid for my attention. I don't reply; I'm still trying to figure out how to handle this. Do I let her off the hook? She comes back, this time with one of my barrettes in her hand. "Bar?" she says, sweetly, hopefully. This time I accept the peace offering and thank her. She beams, chuckles, dashes into my arms. All is forgiven. I pick her up in my arms and she presses her face against my shoulder, hard, seeking reassurance. "I love you, Punkin," I tell her. "But you can't throw things at Sister. OK?"
She scampers down from my arms and looks at Kacie, laying there on the blanket. "Why don't you give Sister a kiss and tell her you're sorry?" I suggest gently. This could prove to be a real Kodak moment after all ...
"NOOOO-OOOOO!" Jamie shouts merrily, running once again down the hallway. So much for warm and fuzzy sibling moments.
October 13, 1983
Scene from early this morning
It is 4:40 a.m., and Ray is frantically running around the house searching for his car keys. I have gotten out of bed to fix a pre-dawn bottle for Kacie, and I stand, nightgowned and sleepy, and watch Ray tear through cupboards and slam drawers open and shut.
"Jamie took my keys!" he says, near panic.
He has forgotten this important rule: to find something Jamie has hidden, you have to stop and make yourself think the way she does. I glance around the kitchen. Her little pink toddler car is "parked" next to the kitchen table.
Car = keys.
I calmly walk over to the little car, lift up the lid, and fish out Ray's keys.
I'm either becoming very very smart, or else I'm regressing ... you tell me.
October 17, 1983
Jamie spoke one of her first complete sentences this morning: she said, "I found a cookie." The cookie looked about a hundred and a half years old - she probably found it under a sofa cushion - but I was so thrilled with her putting the words together that I didn't care.
October 26, 1983
Kacie got me out of bed earlier than usual this morning, about 8:30 a.m. I was having a pleasant dream and didn't really feel like getting up, but she was insistent. When I walked into her bedroom I found her soaking wet and completely tangled up in her crib sheets. She was up on all fours, rocking back and forth and grinning toothlessly at me, looking utterly loony. Who could resist such a face?? I got her cleaned up and dressed and brought her out to the living room, where she contented herself playing with the new toys her Daddy bought her last night (a squeaky rubber wrench and a rubber stalk of celery) while I made my coffee and chugged down two hasty mugs full. Now Kacie is back in bed and Jamie is up. Musical Daughters. Jay is full of beans this morning, too ... already I've caught her pushing a chair over to the kitchen counter, trying to get into the Hallowe'en candy.
November 1, 1983
I took Jamie out trick or treating last night for the first time. I couldn't find a store-bought costume that fit her and would look appropriate for a little girl - all the costumes at Sears and Fred Meyer were Darth Vader, Yoda and E.T. Trendy but ugly. Finally I put together a makeshift costume for her out of stuff we had around the house. She wore her striped Osh Kosh overalls, tied a red bandanna around her neck, put her hair into two pigtails tied with red yarn, and her red tennis shoes on her feet. Then I used my makeup to paint her cheeks and nose bright red, and a black eyeliner pencil to dot some big fake freckles on her cheeks. She was a hobo! It was adorable. Ray has a cold, so he stayed home with Kacie and watched Monday Night Football while Jay and I made the rounds of the neighborhood. Jamie was excited and curious. How odd it must have seemed to her, walking around knocking on doors at night. She got the hang of it right away, though, and pretty soon she was dragging me by the hand, pointing out "more houses!" ...
When we were cold and tired, we walked back up the street to our own house and knocked on the door. Ray pretended to be really surprised to see Jamie standing at his door, which practically sent her into convulsions ... she thought that was SO funny.
November 3, 1983
Yesterday Kacie began crawling in earnest. She's using both hands and both knees, and she maneuvered herself all over the house. First she crawled the length of the living room; then she explored the kitchen; and finally she went down the hallway and into the bedrooms, one by one. Her crawl is still slow and shaky, with lots of starts and stops, but she's definitely got the idea. Her main objective at this point is following Jamie. Jamie runs down the hallway, and Kacie begins a slow plodding crawl, right behind her. Of course she can't catch up yet, but she tries.
Jamie thinks that Kacie's crawl is funny: she giggles at the funny way her baby sister plod, plod, plods her way across the room. What she doesn't like is when Kacie crawls over and grabs one of her toys. Then she says "NO!" and yanks the toy away from Kacie in irritation.
Funny, I Didn't Even Know It Was Lost
Jamie: "I found Ma-Ma coffee!"
November 16, 1983
Miss Kacie Pauline P. pulled herself up to a standing position today. (Applause, applause!) Jamie was sitting on the sofa, and Kacie crawled over, grabbed the edge of the couch, and very neatly pulled herself straight up. Exactly the same scenario is being played out at this moment: Jamie is calmly drinking her apple juice, seated Indian-style on the sofa; Kacie is standing at the edge, peering longingly at her sister's ba-ba ...
... Kacie's biggest problem at the moment is that she doesn't know how to get back down, though, once she gets up. Jamie has hopped off the couch and dashed away, leaving Kacie standing there alone and howling ...
Jamie's favorite game these days is pushing a kitchen chair over to the sink and "helping" me wash the dishes. Appropriately, we call this game "Sink." She also likes pushing the chair around to reach whatever is sitting on the kitchen countertops. Last weekend she found a jar of coffee this way and dumped most of it onto the floor.
"Sink" I can live with. "Countertop" is a game I can live without, thanks.
Jamie: "All done show! All done show! All done show!"
Mom: "Yes, that show is all done."
Jamie: "More show? More show? More show?"
Jamie's second birthday approaches
My big girl will be two years old this Friday! My quick, lively, mischievous, pretty Jamie. I feel sad and I feel elated. I'm sad that the baby is gone forever, but I'm elated that she's growing into such a precious and lovely little girl.
Kacie's first tub bath, eight months old
I put both of the girls in the tub together for the first time last night. Jamie adores her bath, but Kacie was somewhat less than enthusiastic ... when I lowered her into the tub and her bottom hit that warm water, she whimpered nervously ... but after a couple of minutes they were both splashing and playing happily. I remember when I used to bathe Scott's little blonde daughters, and wonder if I would ever have daughters of my own. That's why it gave me special satisfaction to watch my beautiful little girls share their tub last night: another small emotional victory.
December 19, 1983
Woke up early to find an inch of snow on the ground! I was so excited, I dragged a sleepy, grumpy Jamie out of bed. She'd never seen snow before, but once she really woke up she was excited as I was. Later in the morning I bundled her up and let her run around the frontyard, while Kacie and I stood at the door and watched. She tromped around, slipped and fell on her bottom, chased the kitties, tasted a handful of snow, Finally I brought her back in the house; she was wet and shivering and pink-cheeked with excitement.
Breakfast with Jamie, Kacie & Kitty
Fixed Jamie a bowl of oatmeal and brown sugar for breakfast. She ate about half of it, and then (unbeknownst to me) put the bowl on the floor for Wendie Kitty. Unfortunately, Kacie discovered the bowl before the cat or I did ... icccck. Oatmeal everywhere.
I think this was the nicest Christmas I've had so far as an adult. There was a warm, pervasive feeling of "family" ... our family, Ray and the girls and I, as well as our extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The girls had great fun! Watching them enjoy Christmas was a special, funny, magic thing for me.
Christmas morning: our first at home! Ray's folks are in Tucson for the holidays, so we were on our own. Jamie and Kacie woke up at 9:30, and with a little prodding I managed to get Ray out of bed and gathered our little family under the tree.
Jamie loved the Big Bird sink we gave her: maybe that'll keep her out of my sink for a while. Kacie has enough toys and empty boxes to keep her busy for the next ten years.
Ray made a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I added a touch of my own, here and there ... water chestnuts in the stuffing, some of Judy's wild blackberry jam for the rolls ... but other than that, it was all Ray's creation. He puttered around in the kitchen all day, happy as a clam. Dad and Valerie got here at 1:00. Dinner was great but cramped: we all sat around our tiny dining room table, even Kacie (in her highchair). Dad took home movies of us as we feasted: we drank rosť wine and toasted Ray's good cooking.
As soon as dinner was over, of course, Dad and Valerie were on their feet and out the door. The girls and Ray and I took our annual Christmas pictures in front of the tree, and then the four of us climbed into our big bed to read the Sunday paper and relax.
Amusing holiday footnote
Kacie keeps crawling over to the Big Bird Sink, trying to finger it a little, but if she so much as touches it Jamie comes unglued. ("NO-NO SIS-SEEE!")
January 1984: Last Night's Dream
World War III was beginning, and an air raid siren went off, signaling that the Big Bombs were being dropped. I ran to find Ray. I told him that it was going to be OK because 'soon we would be with the Lord,' but I was still very afraid. Ray and I turned ourselves into little pieces of paper and tried to bury ourselves in one of Grandma V.'s flower beds, but the bombs were coming anyway ...
Jamie, two years
The other day I was thinking about how glad I am that we named her Jamie. The name suits her. She can't quite pronounce it herself, yet ... she calls herself "Dee Dee." ("No Dee-Dee bass?" "Dee-Dee sots!" Translation: No Jamie bath? Jamie's socks!) She just looks like a Jamie.
Kacie, nine months
Kacie is beginning to discover the joy of making new sounds. "Ma-ma-ma" and "Dih-dih-DIH!" are her two favorites. She shouts at me to get my attention; if I ignore her too long, the shout turns into a bellow. ("AaaaHHH!") When she's happy, she sings softly under her breath. I hear her doing this in her crib in the morning, and it is the happiest sound I know.
Jamie is learning new words every day. She holds up unfamiliar objects and asks me to name them for her; last night's dinner, for instance. "'Sat, Mama?" she said, holding up her fish stick. "Fish," I said. She repeated the word back to me: "Fiss." And then of course she remembered that she hates fish sticks, and she threw it on the floor.
Her sentences are short and simple. Here are some things I hear all the time:
"All done show! Show DONE. More show?"
"Kees 'side. En gah IN?" (The kitties are outside; can Wendie come in?)
"Liddle Diddle GO?" (Where the hell is that infernal orange transitional object of mine, anyway?)
"GA! Peez. GA. PEEZ?" (Can I get up please?)
"No-no Sissy. SISSY. NO NO." (Translation unnecessary)
"Mama sha! No Dee-Dee sha!" (Mama's going to take a shower now, but I think I'll pass, thanks.)
Kacie has started drinking regular milk once in a while, especially during weeks like this when we're low on money and can't afford her formula. She doesn't seem to notice any difference, anyway. She's eating some table foods now ... anything easily chewed by two tiny teeth. Last night she had a french fry and some noodles from a can of soup. She eats happily, noisily, sloppily ... she puts her whole heart and soul into it. When I was putting her to bed last night I found a noodle in her hair.
Jamie's appetite comes and goes. Yesterday she ate like a lumberjack: cornflakes and toast for breakfast, a tuna sandwich, chicken soup, Fritos and Jell-O for lunch, the afore-mentioned "fiss," french fries and corn for dinner. Plus a couple of ba-bas. Other days she subsists on soda crackers and a couple of green beans. We got her to eat some scrambled eggs last week, but only because Daddy put some "oodle-doodles" (tomatoes) in them. Jamie loves oodle-doodles so much that I don't think it even occurred to her that she was eating eggs.
Kacie is crawling now at the speed of light: she zooms from one end of the room to the other in seconds flat. Ray sits down in the armchair and sets his can of beer on the coffee table. Kacie, sitting all the way out in the kitchen, spies the can of beer. ZOOM! In seconds, she is standing at the coffee table reaching for the beer can before Daddy has even opened his newspaper.
Jamie is losing her baby fat. The big round belly, evident in last summer's wading pool pictures, is gone: she is slim and lithe. Of course, there's still some toddler awkwardness, and she still has a baby's round pudgy cheeks and nose and stubby, dimpled fingers. There is still a little baby left in her. More often than not, though, when I look at her these days I see a little girl. The infant is gone forever.
January 26, 1984
Downhearted. I layed in bed a little while ago and wondered why I should even bother getting up. It's still January. It's been January for about ten years now. I hate the unrelenting ordinariness of this month ... there is nothing to do, nothing to look forward to. I am, as they say, "in the doldrums," and nothing seems to help.
I just tiptoed over to Kacie's bedroom door and stood there for a while, hidden from her sight, and watched her rolling around in her crib. Her goofy antics made me smile in spite of myself. She chuckles, grabs her toes, clutches her blanky, blows raspberries into the air. She's so full of energy, so full of joy. Her day, just like mine, will be full of the "same old thing," but that doesn't seem to bother her. She's happy just to be alive.
That started me thinking. This day - while it probably won't be the most thrilling day of my life - will, at least, be another day without war. It'll be another day alive, healthy and comfortable. Another day with my children as little and sweet as they are right now. Does this make sense? Someday I will wish I could come back in time and re-live these "dull, uninspired" days in 1984, when the girls were babies and I spent my mornings drinking coffee and moaning in my journal about how bored I am ...
January 25, 1984
The house is unnaturally quiet. No TV, no stereo, no dryer tumbling clothes in the bathroom. I turned everything off for a little while: the constant noise was starting to get on my nerves. Jamie doesn't understand, and she keeps requesting that I turn on "tee-fee." Kacie now has four teeth. That was the major excitement of this day ... that, and running four loads of laundry. Oh yes, I forgot the really BIG news: Jamie fell and bit her tongue this evening. Lots of blood and shouting and running about. Could life possibly be more exciting than this??
Where is Terri? Whatever happened to her, anyway? Millions and millions of years ago, I used to be a girl named Terri. I remember that. Now who am I? Mrs. P.? "Honey?" Mama?
Mama: "Oh boy! What've you got?"
Jamie: (shoveling a huge spoonful of yellow gunk into her mouth) "Appa-sauce?"
Mama: "Noo ... that's not applesauce."
Jamie: " 'Sat, Mama?"
Mama: "Peach cobbler."
Jamie: "PEE KAH." (Shovel, shovel, shovel) "ALLLL done."
We took the girls to the Kirkland waterfront yesterday. Ray and Jamie fed the ducks, while I pushed Kacie around the park in the stroller. The beach was very cold but it felt great: we all had fun. Jamie was totally captivated by the ducks, the boats and the other children; she kept saying "Hi!" to total strangers. It was nice to be out somewhere with my little family.
February 4, 1984
On a whim I took the girls down to see Dad and Valerie today. They were fascinated with my father's junky, cluttered house ... so many things to get into! Jamie discovered my stepmother's secret stash of Lifesavers and helped herself to an enormous handful of them; Kacie tried making friends with the grumpy old tomcat and was rewarded with a nasty scratch on the cheek. Dad took us all to The Flower Drum and treated us to Chinese food. The girls were amazingly well-behaved in the restaurant. Jamie sat on a booster seat between Dad and Valerie and worked on a glass of ice cubes; Kacie was in a highchair next to me, nibbling on prawns and rice.
Potty Training 101
Jamie Lynn P. passed an important milestone last night (pun intended) ... she "did her poops" in the potty chair for the first time. Without any prompting, I might add. Ray and I made a huge deal out of it, applauding and congratulating her on what a BIG GIRL she is. She stood there looking like she'd just won an Oscar. Of course I'm thrilled about this, but where do we go from here?? I have absolutely no idea what comes next. Do I take her out of diapers completely during the day? I'm reminded once again that I'm making this parenting stuff up as I go along.
Kacie has simultaneously discovered the bathroom and the fireplace, both of which (unfortunately) are off-limits to her. When she manages to sneak into the bathroom she likes to rummage through the garbage, chew on the toilet bowl brush (bleccccch) and unroll the toilet paper. When she gets a chance, she likes to poke around in the fireplace and munch on soot until her whole face is black.
Ray got home around 9 p.m. last night. The girls were both sound asleep, but Kacie heard us rustling around in the kitchen and gave a polite little squawk. (Hello? Can I join the party?) I wrapped her up in her blanky and carried her out to visit with Daddy. She was so warm and sleepy and confused, blinking at the brightness of the kitchen lights. I kissed her fuzzy head and told Ray, "I've fallen very deeply in love with this little person."
Spring is coming: I can feel it. Today is another gray monotone of a day, typical for February ... but there is a trace of spring in the air. The buds on the cherry tree have swollen to nearly twice their normal size: the blossoms are only minutes away.
I almost wish I had a newborn baby today. It would be nice to sit and hold a baby this morning, someone little and warm and willing. Jamie is resisting all my attempts at conversation this morning. She refuses my hugs and kisses with a cross "GO, Mom!" And Kacie is such a wiggle-worm that she won't sit still long enough for a cuddle anymore. It would be nice to have a tiny baby in my arms right now, someone who wouldn't tell me to go away, or bonk me in the head with their ba-ba, or pull my hair, or run off when I try to kiss them.
I look like hell, but at least the house is picked up. The girls are in the final moments of their afternoon naps ... soon the house will explode with noise and chaos again, but for the moment things are deeply peaceful.
I was fantasizing a minute ago, pretending that it was 1981, before either of the girls was born. I had the house all to myself: no babies to take care of. I could go to bed, right this minute, right in the middle of the afternoon, and nobody would care!! I could spread my cookbook materials all over the living room floor and no little people would be poking around in it, tearing pages and eating my Glue Stick. I could soak in the bathtub without an audience. The possibilities would be endless. Sigh ...
... But then I gave the girls their bath this evening. I sat there on a stool and watched these two absolutely beautiful little creatures, with their perfectly-formed little bodies and their long wet eyelashes and their pink cheeks ... splashing, shrieking, giggling when the soap slipped out of their chubby hands ... and I sat back with a sigh, glad that it isn't 1981. Watching my children bathe evoked in me feelings of peace, pleasure, awe: the way I imagine mothers down through the ages have felt, watching their children bathe. And I'm so, so thankful that it's exactly the day and hour and minute it is, right now. I wish for nothing else.