Jamie has become increasingly mischievous in recent weeks. Yesterday I was sitting on the sofa, putting on my makeup. She stood beside me, poking around in my basket of cosmetics like she always does. A minute or two later she sauntered out of the room with exaggerated casualness, her arms crossed tightly against her chest. I was immediately suspicious, so I followed her to her bedroom. She had hidden one of my eyeshadows in her sweater and carried it off to her room!

Another time I suddenly realized she was nowhere in sight, and that I hadn't heard a peep out of her in quite some time. Upon investigation, I found her in my bedroom; she had dragged a chair over to my dresser and was pulling all the drawers out of my jewelry box! Earrings and necklaces were thrown all over the floor and the bed.

She took her toy dishes into the bathroom and "washed" them in the toilet. She sprayed her hair and her clothes with furniture polish. She dumped a bottle of fabric softener down the bathroom sink. She climbed into the bathtub and poured out a bottle of shampoo, rubbing a bunch of it into her hair. She used to like to watch me take my shower in the morning, but now she seizes the opportunity to get into mischief while Mama is otherwise occupied. I come out of the shower, wet and dripping, to find all of the cats running around in the living room (after she's unlocked the door and let them all in), or her sitting at my desk uncapping all my felt pens, or Kacie locked in her bedroom, screaming ...

She has also become incredibly contrary. Here is a typical morning conversation:

Mom: (putting bread into toaster) "Would you like some toast?"

Jamie: "NO TOAST."

Mom: "You don't want any toast."

Jamie: "No TOAST, Mama. NO toast, Mama."

Mom: "OK, OK, no toast." (I continue fixing it anyway)

Jamie: "TOAST, MAMA!! PEEEEZZ!!" (stamps her feet, starts to cry)

Mom: "Oh, you do want some toast. Fine. Whatever.

Jamie: "O-kee."








February 27, 1984

Kacie walked for the first time - officially - on Saturday! Actually, it was more like running than walking ... she ran on her toes while flapping her arms in the air, looking like she was preparing for lift-off. I'm so proud of her!








February 29

Kacie P. is really walking now ... nine or ten steps at a time. Yesterday Jamie took her by the hand and walked her around the kitchen: it was very cute.








An Observation

February 1984

Ever since Kacie began crawling (and now, walking), there's been a definite shift in the girls' relationship: Kacie has become less a passive observer, more a participant in our daily activities, and Jamie senses it. Kacie doesn't just lay there on the floor and giggle at Jamie's funny antics anymore: she gets up and follows her around. She wants to do everything Jamie does. Sometimes Jamie is delighted by this. Other times she finds it less amusing. My guess is that Jamie had better get used to it ... Kacie will probably be trying to "catch up" with her for the next sixty or seventy years.

"Sesame Street" is playing to an empty house, out in the living room. While The Count is happily counting to eight, Jamie and Kacie have holed themselves up in Kacie's room with the door closed. Occasionally I hear Jamie shout "No-no SIS!," and Kacie responding with an indignant howl, but I resist the impulse to stick my head in there and intervene. This the beginning of their relationship as sisters. I have a feeling that the things that happen in these earliest days will have a direct influence on the rest of their lives. I hope that one day they will be close and loving. I hope they'll be friends. But if that happens, it happens with or without help from me: it has to develop on its own.








March 9, 1984

Hey! A good mood, for a change ... I feel light-hearted, optimistic, content. The winter blues have finally let up, and things look a lot brighter than they did a month ago.

The cherry tree is in full bloom. Jamie and I sit here and count the bumblebees.

Playing a tape on the stereo. "99 Red Balloons" (Nena) just came on, and Jamie came flying out of the bedroom so she could dance around the living room. She is passionate about this song: next to "Southern Cross" (Crosby, Stills & Nash) it's her very favorite. Even Kacie is kneeling on the floor, bouncing up and down in time to the music. Jamie is whirling and prancing and twirling around the room, clapping her hands, singing in her funny little one-note voice, clutching one of her baby dolls. There are times when I wish I were two years old again: it sure looks like fun.








March 12, 1984

Jamie discovered the stereo headphones this weekend. Any time I turn on the radio or the tape player, she sits cross-legged on the sofa and holds the headphones against her ears. They're too big for her little head, so she has to hold them up. Then she sings along in that funny little monotone, oblivious to everything else.

This morning she's in a rotten mood, by the way. We've only been up for half an hour and we've already had three major skirmishes. Right now she's mad at me because I won't give her some coffee. "Need FAH, peez! Dee-Dee CUP!" she said, angrily. A minute later she was mad because I wouldn't look at the Penney's catalog with her for the one billionth time. I can tell that this is going to be one of "those" days ...

Some frequent Jamie-isms:

"Pfeeee" (Please)

"Kuh, Mom-ma." (Thank you, Mama)

"Moh? Moh?"

"Fye, six!" (Her abbreviated way of counting, learned from watching "Sesame Street")

"Faw" (Kermit The Frog)

"Bah" ("Benson," one of her favorite TV shows ... God knows WHY ...)

Grocery List:

Diapers

Dish soap

Laundry soap

Onion

Milk

Bread








March 21, 1984

Kacie Pauline P. is ONE YEAR OLD today!

At the moment my big birthday girl is sitting on the ottoman, eating a piece of toast ... wearing only a diaper, one bedraggled pigtail and a smile ... and quacking like a duck. The other day I cut her bangs, very short, and it gives her whole face an elfin quality I love. Her mouth is covered with toast crumbs. I catch her eye and she breaks into a devilish smile: her "quacking" was designed to get my attention, and it worked! I "quack" back at her, and she goes wild. A conversation!

Has it really been only a year? It feels like Kacie P. has been with us forever, like she's always been a part of us. She is what makes us complete as a family.

This morning I'm thinking about all the different feelings I've had for Kacie, over the past year and beyond (before she was born). How astonished I was when I realized I was pregnant again! Jamie was only seven months old then: two babies sounded like a lot to handle. And then, when I took the home pregnancy test, and that moment of pure elation when the black ring appeared at the bottom of the test tube. Kacie's easy birth, and my first glimpse of her: her eyes were shut tight, and her hair was wet and curly. She was very red and she looked (I thought) exactly like Ray. When she was sick last summer, and we took her to the hospital in the middle of the night ... the frightened, helpless way I felt as she struggled to breathe. And the way I feel about her today, on her first birthday: proud, amused, tender, protective. She is incredibly dear to me.

Happy Birthday, littlest daughter! I love you.

(Quack!)








March 24, 1984

I'm in a rotten mood this morning, and it just keeps getting worse. I caught Jamie in the bathroom a little while ago, busily slathering my cold cream all over her face, her hair, her clothes. I came unglued: I whacked her on the bottom and screamed at her. Naturally I feel terrible about it ... I'm sitting here at the kitchen table now, fighting back tears.








March 31

Jamie and I watched "The Wizard Of Oz" last night. She liked Toto, the "Mun-kins," and the good witch Glinda's arrivals and departures in her "boon" (balloon). When the Wicked Witch of the West arrived in Munchkinland, in an explosion of fire and smoke - my favorite part of the movie - Jamie looked startled and said "BOOM!"

This morning when we were having breakfast, I said "Jamie! We watched The Wizard of Oz last night, didn't we?" and she replied "BOOM!"








April 1984

Some Trivia

Something Jamie said this morning: "I goin' pay Dee's oom now." (I'm going to play in Jamie's room now.) First time she's ever announced it that way.

Some Kacie Favorites: Jamie's wind-up radio, the one that plays "When You Wish Upon A Star" ... pulling her socks off ... Handi-Wrap commercial on TV ... Ray's wide leather belt, which she likes to drag around the house.








April 12

A naked Jamie P. is having her fourth or fifth tantrum of the morning, lying prostrate on the living room floor and wailing in agony. "ENNN-KEE!" she is screaming, because I won't let Wendie Kitty come into the house.

Kacie, nightgowned, bangs neatly trimmed, is bouncing around in her highchair with a cinnamon muffin squished in one pudgy hand. There is a wild wind blowing, and the sky is slate gray. It is a combination of dark and light that I love. Today is payday ... I heave a deep sigh of relief. I am literally down to my last diaper. Payday has come at precisely the right moment, as usual.

Early Spring 1984 is:

Trees in blossom ... rain ... french-dip sandwiches ... "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" ... Kacie walking and learning a couple of words ... Kool-Aid ... new lipsticks: Precious Pearl and Sweet Vanilla ... antique glass on the living room windowsill, glimmering in the late-afternoon sunshine ... big photo albums ... white wine ... no vacuum cleaner, no phone again ... nachos ... CeCe, Wendie and Dee-Kee ... Princess Di is pregnant again ... Budget Gourmet Frozen Dinners ... "Mines!" JLP ... Murphy's Oil Soap ... dreaming about a third baby (Kimberley? Brett?) in 1986 ... books on top of the piano ... "Mystery!" on PBS ... our lives, spinning on and on and on ...

Jay-Phrases:

"No, MINES."

"Mom a poo-poo FEES." (Mom's a poo poo face.)

The girls are playing with bowls of Life cereal and sliced bananas; Jamie's is nearly untouched, Kacie's is almost gone. Another long day of motherhood ahead. I wonder who will be the crab today? Lately they've been taking turns. This morning, so far, they're both in delightful moods. Kacie is laying on the floor at my feet now, kicking at the hem of my nightgown and giggling; Jamie, naked and hair braided, clutches a hunk of banana and nonchalantly jabbers at me. ("Terry home t'day?" she asks.) The "delightful" moods are destined to disappear by lunchtime so I enjoy them while I can.

We continue to live the life, my girls and me. So far this has been a peaceful if predictable spring ... the days appear and disappear with comfortable regularity. We are suspended here in Spring 1984: not an entirely unpleasant place to be. Each noisy, busy day is much the same as the one before. Still, there are little reminders that time is passing ... quiet "nudges" that remind me how precious these days are, and how fleeting. Jamie outgrows a favorite jacket. The blossoms on the cherry tree disappear, replaced by reddish-brown leaves. Daylight Savings Time begins, and the days grow longer. The girls get bigger each day, leaving their babyhood further behind.

I'm probably much luckier - and much happier - than I realize.








May 7, 1984

Jamie is playing in the backyard. Every once in a while she comes and brings me a bouquet of crumpled lavender blossoms or a scraggly dandelion. "Here, Mom," she says, "I got fowrs for you." These funny little bouquets are more beautiful and precious to me than all the long-stemmed roses in the world.









May 9

Kacie just said "banana," I think! She's sitting in her highchair eating part of a banana and a muffin smeared with peanut butter, and I could swear I heard her say "na-na" just now.

The other night while Jamie was eating her fried chicken and vegetables, she paused for a moment, leaned back in her chair and said, "Good dinner, Mom!" Startled, I said "Well gee, THANK you." I'm not accustomed to being complimented by my two and a half year old daughter (although I believe I could get used to it).

Kacie learned a new "trick" today. If I'm not paying attention to her, she reaches over and grabs my hand! OK, so it's not a cure for cancer, but it is Kacie's first, pre-verbal attempt at a conversation. And I think that's pretty cool. (Or do I need to get a life ...?)








May 19

Little daughter, nose pressed against the window, clutches her coat and waits for Daddy to come home from the phone booth to take her on the "bye-bye" he has promised her. If he disappoints her, I'll kill him.

Next day:

Ray finally got in touch with his parents around 9 p.m. this evening (they'd been clam-digging all weekend). Even though it was late, he bundled Jamie up and popped her into the car, and the two of them drove over to the folks' house to borrow a little money. I stayed home, monitoring the pot roast and watching "The Mystic Warrior." Ray and Jamie got home at 11 p.m. with a small box of diapers (thank God) and some badly-needed groceries. Jamie finally got the "bye-bye" she'd been waiting for all weekend, and her eyes were shining when I tucked her into bed.








A Day In The Life

May 1984

8 a.m. I am deeply asleep, snuggled warmly under the brown comforter. If possible I am prepared to sleep another two hours ... I was up until 1:30 a.m. again last night watching David Letterman, and I could use the extra sleep.

Suddenly Ray leaps out of bed and dashes into the bathroom. I am instantly awake. "Please don't let him flush the toilet!" I silently implore. A flushing toilet will wake up the girls, and I am simply not ready to face the day yet: even another fifteen minutes of sleep would be a blessing. I burrow further under the covers and listen to my husband thrashing around in the bathroom. Just when I believe I may saved - there it is. CRRRR-EEEEE-AAAAAK, GURGLE GURGLE GURGLE, SWIIIISH, SPLASH!! The plumbing springs to life, and my heart sinks: I know there will be no reprieve now.

I'm right. Seconds later I hear Jamie happily announce to her Daddy, "Dee Dee up now!" Jamie is sleeping in a regular bed for the first time this week, and she has discovered the delights of getting up and down whenever she feels like it. Ray crawls back into bed and I glare at him. "Thanks a lot!" I mutter blackly, but he doesn't hear me. Enviously I watch him snuggle under the blankets and hear him heave a comfortable sigh. I sit in bed for a minute or two and listen for further communication from my two year old. Nothing but ominous silence. OK folks, this is it. Ready or not, gotta heave the ol' bones out of bed. No telling what Jamie might be getting into ...

Jamie, amazingly, is very quietly standing in front of the sofa, waiting for me. I yawn and give her a sleepy "Good morning!," and we hug and kiss. She chatters at me while I plug in the coffeepot, take off her soggy diaper ("I take T-shirt off now!" she says), and try to shake the cobwebs from my brain. We turn on the TV and watch all Jamie's favorite shows ... "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood," "Sesame Street," the revolting "Polka Dot Door." Mr. Rogers is visiting a nursery school today, and I tell Jamie that when she's a big girl she'll go to school, too.

After a while the kiddie shows start getting on my nerves, so I pour myself some more coffee - half the pot is gone already - and I sit at the kitchen table with my little tape recorder. Jamie is instantly at the table beside me, munching on toast and watching me intently. For the next hour we play with the tape recorder. We listen to an old tape of Jamie and Kacie, and then we tape a new conversation between the two of us.

At ten o'clock Kacie wakes up: I hear one long, anguished howl from her room. There is a lot of fuzzy black dog hair all over the living room (our new temporary dog, Dink, slept in the house last night) so I hurriedly run the vacuum around ... otherwise Kacie would be taste-testing the dog hair within minutes. Kacie is delighted to see me when I go to her room: she's anxious to get up. I lift her out of her crib and plant a huge kiss on the top of her head. She's not in a cuddling mood, though - she rarely is, these days - and she wiggles and squirms, trying to get out of my arms. I set her down and she toddles off in a big hurry to find her Jamie ...

Kacie has her toast, and I change her diaper. She rubs the toast, jelly side down, all over my nightgown. "Icccckkk!" I say, playfully, and pop her into the highchair to finish her breakfast.

Time for a long, hot shower ... one of the highlights of my morning. I wash my hair with chamomile shampoo, standing under the shower head and letting the hot water envelope me. It is heaven. Kacie stands by the edge of the tub and grabs at my legs, giggling every time I "scream" in mock terror. Jamie doesn't watch me shower anymore, but when she hears me turning off the water she runs into the bathroom and hands me a towel. I call her my Good Helper, and she beams.

Ray is sound asleep when I tiptoe into our room to get dressed - my one & only pair of jeans, and a black polo shirt I've had since college. A few minutes later I dress the girls: red coveralls and a flowered shirt for Kacie, a clean T-shirt and training pants for Jamie. It's a cloudy, chilly morning so I put slippers on both girls. They disappear into Jamie's room after they're dressed, and I sit at the table with one more cup of coffee.

I put on some light makeup while I watch "Ryan's Hope." (Siobhan had a baby yesterday, and Roger is terrorizing Maggie again.) The rest of the morning passes in a familiar and comfortable way. The girls drink bottles of juice. Kacie plays with the empty Avon boxes, until Jamie takes them away from her. Later, Jamie appears at the table with an armload of Sesame Street books and sits next to me, "reading." Kacie tosses her toys out the door, into the frontyard. My favorite soap comes on, "All My Children": today we learned that Ross is actually Palmer's long-lost son, Edna is burned up because Zach turned out to be a male prostitute, Hillary went out with Tony, Tad quit his job as a gigolo, Erica had her daily temper tantrum. The girls fight over toys. Kacie climbs onto Jamie's bed, but then she can't get back down. I finish the pot of coffee and make another one. Johan, the old basset hound from down the street, pays us a visit. Kacie brings me her empty bottle and hands it to me, wordlessly requesting a refill: the first time she's ever done this. Jamie pees in her training pants.

We are perilously low on food. I open a can of beef stew for lunch, adding some leftover carrots and corn to make it stretch. The girls and I have big bowls of it for lunch, with bread and butter, and it tastes surprisingly good. "Good dinner now!" Jamie says. "Lunch," I tell her. "Munch," she agrees. Both girls eat every bite and ask for seconds. After we're done eating I wipe their messy faces and fingers, and put the lunch dishes in the sink to soak.

It is 1 p.m. - time to wake Ray up for work. I go into our bedroom and lay down next to him on the bed. The girls are right behind me, and within minutes they are happily climbing Daddy Mountain. Ray pretends to be annoyed, but it's all a front: where his girls are concerned the man is a marshmallow. He tickles Kacie under the chin, and teases Jamie about her training pants ("Pew!" he says). When he gets up and shuffles out the kitchen the girls follow him. I rest for a minute or two, fantasizing about how lovely a "real" nap would be. Sigh.

Ray showers, and I sit with Kacie in the rocking chair. She is getting sleepy and cranky, and the rocking soothes her. Jamie finds an old Band-Aid (from my bee sting last night) and puts it on the nose of her Pink Panther. I hear the mail truck up the street and suddenly remember I have a letter to mail, to my sister-in-law Judy. (We have no phone again, so letter-writing is my only means of communicating with the outside world.) Barefoot, I dash across the street to the mailbox. The girls stand at the window and watch me. Jamie waves; Kacie looks astonished to see Mama outside. Later, Ray checks to see if we got any mail. "Maybe I got a check for a thousand dollars," he says dourly. No such luck. No mail at all, as a matter of fact.

Kacie willingly goes down for a nap with a cold bottle of milk and her blanky. Ray takes our last two dollars and goes to the store. I snap off the TV, wash the dishes and listen to more tapes of Jamie as a baby.

Jamie suddenly becomes intolerably cranky, so I carry her, kicking and screaming, to her bed. "Need COX!" she screams, so I obligingly put socks on her feet. "Need CUZ!" she screams, and I "cover" her with a blanket.

I have some quiet time in the afternoon while both girls nap. I listen to more old tapes, read the newspaper, plot how to get my hands on some Pepsi. (We only had enough money for milk and a newspaper.) I go next door and ask my neighbors (the Bruffs) if they have any pop I can "borrow." Phyllis says no. I ask her to send Rick over when he gets home from school ... maybe he'll go to the store for me. I have 35 cents in pennies and one Canadian quarter.

The girls nap long and hard. It's 4:15 before I hear the first stirring ... the music box in Kacie's crib, which plays when she pulls a string. I'm feeling a little lonely so I go in and get her. She's wide awake, sitting in her crib, jabbering at me a mile a minute. I let her scamper around the kitchen for a while; she plays with her beloved Avon boxes and some empty cassette cases, climbs onto my lap once or twice, then walks down the hallway and stands outside Jamie's door, waiting for her sister to wake up.

Jamie is up not long afterwards, and I begin fixing dinner for them both. I boil two hot-dogs and a handful of spaghetti noodles, and I warm up half a can of leftover green beans. Jay turns on the TV, and we watch an old "Eight Is Enough" re-run. I pour a little tomato sauce on the noodles and franks and call it "Hot Dog Spaghetti." Personally I think it's revolting, but such is the depleted state of our cupboards. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that. The girls like it. Jamie sits at the table and Kacie sits in the highchair next to her, and they happily suck spaghetti noodles and smear tomato sauce all over themselves.

After dinner I pop them both into the tub. Kacie doesn't want to take a bath - she's afraid of having her hair shampooed - and she runs in terror when she hears me turn on the bath water. I wash their hair quickly, with as little fuss as possible. Kacie screams at the top of her lungs, but Jamie is pretty good about it. After the trauma of the hair-washing is over, I let them splash and play for half an hour. While they bathe, I finish up the dinner dishes and fold the laundry. Rick Bruff comes to the door with two cans of Shasta Cola. I offer him my 35 cents but he tells me to "forget it."

When the girls are out of the tub, dried off, diapered and p.j.'d, I put a spritz of instant conditioner on their hair and comb it through. It makes their hair incredibly soft and shiny. Jamie's bangs needs a good trim, so I sit her on the camphor chest and spend a frustrating fifteen minutes trying to get them even while Jamie wiggles and howls in protest. The results are so-so ... a little crooked, but a definite improvement; I can see her eyebrows again, anyway.

The evening passes with the same comfortable, routine familiarity as did the afternoon. The girls run up and down the hallway, dashing from Kacie's room to Jamie's and back again. Doors slam, toys are fought over, voices rise and fall. Kacie is in a hot-pink blanket sleeper, Jamie in powder blue. I watch them run and play, and I feel a powerful surge of love for my children.

Kacie goes to bed at 8 p.m. I fix myself a hot dog and some french fries for dinner, and then I eat while Jamie and I watch "Benson." Jamie sits with me on the sofa for the rest of the evening: we watch "Webster" and "Dallas." Kacie gets back up once, for a couple of minutes, but goes right back to bed. I munch on peanuts and sip a rum and Shasta Cola while we watch the season finale of "Dallas." (An unknown assailant accidentally shoots Billy Ewing!) At 10 p.m. Jamie announces that it's her "bedtime," and goes to her room. Surprised (but pleased) I tuck her in. She kisses and "squeezes" me and says "Ni-night, Mama."

I'm asleep by midnight.








May 23, 1984

The day before payday is always the poorest ... but somehow the easiest to endure. The girls have to wear icky cloth diapers because I'm out of disposables, we're down to the bottom of the barrel food-wise, and I'll have to borrow laundry soap from one of my neighbors this afternoon again. But knowing we'll have money tomorrow night somehow makes it bearable.

We had a rough night with Jamie last night after Ray got home from work. She absolutely would not stay in her bed! We battled with her until 5 a.m. This morning I'm exhausted and headachy, and Jamie is uncharacteristically solemn. I'm going to fix her a little milk and coffee and see if that doesn't jolly her up a bit.

Kacie has an irritating new "game" ... she pushes the ottoman around the house and uses it as a step-ladder, mostly to get up to the stereo and fiddle with the knobs. I took one of the wheels off the bottom of the ottoman this morning so it won't roll freely anymore. You should have seen the look Kacie gave me when she tried to push it and it wouldn't budge. It was almost as though she was saying "Why did you spoil my fun, Mama?"

I walk around the house with Kacie in my arms and we look out the windows. She has this funny little whispery thing she does in my ear ("Cussa-cussa-cussa"). She points at the dogs in the backyard and barks ("Ack!") Sometimes we sit in the rocking chair and just rock back and forth for an hour.








June 19

Kacie has climbed onto the chair next to mine and is happily swiping at my pen, but she's not very steady and it looks like she's going to fall off. Lately her climbing is a major source of concern and irritation around here: I'm scared to death she's going to break her neck one of these days. So when I pick her up off the chair and place her safely on the floor, she bursts into angry tears.









Jamie P., two years old

Sits in her wading pool eating a popsicle

On the first fine day of summer.












Jamie has started sleeping with her bedroom light on. Last night she fell asleep in my bed while the two of us were watching TV, so I carried her to her room and tucked her in. She woke up at 2:30 a.m. in hysterics. "TURN MITE ON!" she shrieked, over and over, until I rushed into her room and turned the lamp on. Then she quickly went back to sleep.

The neighborhood kids got out of school for the summer yesterday. Terry came over and talked to me for a while in the afternoon, while I baked cookies. Her conversation was full of boys, boys, boys. Next fall she begins junior high. I look at her, and I feel light years removed from her: the summer I was twelve was a million years ago.








July 22, 1984

After an argument with Ray

Jamie won't leave my side. She heard most of last night's fight, and today she is sticking to me like glue, saying things like "Mama take care of me now?" Kacie's got a terrible diaper rash and she's crabby as hell.

We've got two litters of kittens running around - CeCe's and Wendie's - a total of seven cats altogether. And this morning Gretchen has broken off her chain and run loose, for the third time this week. I feel claustrophobic. All these living things crowding me ... dogs, cats, kids, drunken husbands ... Kacie is crying, Jamie is weeping, huge fat houseflies are buzzing around three bulging sacks of garbage in the kitchen, the house reeks of old pizza and dirty diapers ...

I feel wrung-out from all the crying and from a night of weird, meaningless dreams. It's going to take every ounce of strength in me to be Mommy today and not Atilla the Honey.








July 28, 1984

Here's another thrilling report on the state of my house: Disheveled and dirty today, with prevailing grime and odor: slight chance of condemnation by local Health Board ...

Kacie has turned into a mini-cyclone, twirling ceaselessly around the house from morning till dawn, leaving disorder, destruction and wet diapers in her wake.

Her moods are approximately two minutes in length, switching from giddy delight to total anguish in the blink of an eye.

Jamie is alternately demanding and aloof. One minute she pleads to sit on my lap ("I want talka yoo!"), and the next minute she barricades herself in her bedroom and shouts at me to "Go 'way, MOM."

She is forever helping herself to things around here, so I'm forever monitoring her to make sure what she helps herself to is Smurf Cereal, not Murphy's Oil Soap.

Her moods (compared to Kacie's) last longer but they change just as abruptly. She goes from idolizing me to despising me, from being my sunny, cooperative helper to an angry, stubborn changeling; from Dr. Jekyll to Little Miss Hyde.








July 10, 1984

Notes on JLP

"Gee-you" (Thank you Mom - when I gave her a Tylenol)

Spider on the kitchen ceiling, told her it was a little girl spider named "Charlotte" so she wouldn't be afraid of it.

Smurf Cereal - spreads towel on table beneath her bowl.

"Dat pree goo, My!" (That was pretty good, Mommy)

"DAT TOO MOUD!" (That's too loud)



Mom: (teasingly) "What's your name, little girl?"

Jamie: "BIG Girl."



"Jis' doon some fings." (Just doing some things)

"Jis' UN now." (Just ONE now - holds up index finger)

Why is it that whenever Jamie clobbers Kacie in anger, Kacie comes running over and starts hitting me?

Jamie, giving reasons for wanting to sit on my lap while I write in my journal:

"I want oo, now." (I want you now)

"I needs oo, now." (I need you now)

"Take care me now!" (Take care of me now)








August 21, 1984

I just took a picture of the girls, sitting together on the camphor chest. Jamie is wearing an ancient, years-out-of-style blue sundress that somebody gave us, and Kacie is wearing a faded cotton dress that's miles too short for her. Still, they look so sweet in their funny old dresses and their short bangs and their bare feet - like a couple of little "country girls" - that I had to take their picture.


Continued ...

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