The kids are sitting at either end of the long dining room table playing "rock, paper, scissors" while they're supposed to be eating their dinner. Leftover rice-krispy-treats go to those who finish. As I write this, they are recounting stories of what happened after school today on the playground. They had a lot of adventures with pine cones apparently.
We were all very tired today. It was the first time that Beti asked to go back to sleep when I woke her up this morning for school. Abe has been in his red footed-pajamas all day, even for trips to take and pick up his sister from school. He's wearing them now as he eats his dinner.
I forget how many things are still new for our daughter. People are amazed at how quickly she is adjusting to life, how much she's throwing herself into this new world of hers. Another parent at her school was telling me this week that a few of the parents in her class were talking about how remarkable it is that she's reading above the level of their kids who were born and raised here. Her teacher told us last week that she is a "teacher's dream" because of her intelligence and enthusiasm.
She read a whole 'level one' book to me this week. Three months ago, she knew about twenty spoken English words.
Last night we went to see the zoo all lit up for the holidays. This was her first time on the train. She seemed pretty nonplussed by the experience but she was entranced by the human-sized biped animals walking around greeting and hugging people at the zoo. Her eyes got huge when she saw the first, a tiger, waving at everyone as they entered. She stood back for a few beats and watched closely as our friends' kids went close to him. She decided it was okay, and with a huge smile, approached him, shook his hand, got a hug. She walked back to me and pulled on my arm. I leaned down and she whispered in my ear, "Mom, actually, it's a person in there."
A friend of mine with a one-year-old told me that her favorite thing is blowing her daughter's mind with stuff like aquariums and lights. I feel that way sometimes about Beti. Last night I got to watch her mind get blown by adults in animal costumes.
Abe, having grown up in a slightly different reality is fortunately still entranced by things like used earplugs on public transportation, which I realized he was snuggling next to his face as he was falling asleep in my arms on the train last night. He was so so so sad when I freaked out and threw it on the ground. His treasure! Gone! Just like that.
He is the kid at school that some of the boys fight over sitting next to during snack. Yes, and even that made me proud, that moment when I explained to the fighting boys that my son has two sides and that they can sit one to his left and the other to his right. He has also already made friends with the 'big kids' at his sister's school. I find it hilarious and funny when these first and second graders I've never laid eyes on before pass us in the hallway or on the playground and say, "Hey Abe." How does he know these people?
He still, when I lean down and hug him from behind, says "hi, Mom" and kisses my cheek. This morning, after the late night and early wake-up to take his sister to school, he snuggled next to me on the couch and fell asleep, his reindeer next to his face. I fell asleep too, and when he woke up, he was very interested in hearing about the dream I'd had about Lando Calrissian from Star Wars. Through puffy-eyed, pouffy-lipped sleepy-face, his eyes brightened as he thought about light-saber fights.
Tonight, as I went through the millions of papers Beti brings home from school, I found this one, and the swell, the swell, the swell of my heart.
I am not proud of the number of times I get impatient with them and whine about "needing a break." I should know better.
I got teary-eyed a few days ago as I nodded in sincere agreement with the Ethiopian woman working at Goodwill who, upon seeing one of my children in the flesh and the other in a photo, locked eyes with me to tell me, "You are so lucky." I am. Completely.