Thursday, January 01, 2009

Getting an Education

Here goes: a birthday alphabet for Jarrah. Next time won't you sing with me?

A is for Apple. (what else?) Jarrah asks for apples almost every day, but not because she likes them. Back in September, her school celebrated Rosh Hashanah with apples and honey and she thought that was the bee's knees. She uses the apple slices as porous spoons, then leaves them, unbitten, on the plate.

B is for Big-Girl Bed. She's ready for one, but currently sleeps in her old crib with the side off. It's only been six months, but already it's hard to remember a time when she couldn't get up in the wee hours and make us crazy with mysterious thumping sounds.

C is for Candy. The child lives for candy, cupcakes, chocolate and other confections. All bribes and threats must revolve around sugary goodness. Recently, we were at Big Lots! and she picked out a toy. David and I offered to buy it as a "treat." She looked at us for a moment, wheels furiously turning, then responded "And can I also have a food treat?"

D is for Dora Game. She still loves Dora the Explorer, but especially the shrieky, repetitive version emanating from the laptop, where she will happily walk Dora and her friends through mazes for an hour, the only sound "Great!" and "Try again!" She often asks for a Dora game at night to stall going to bed.

E is for Eurythmics. Her current favorite song is "I Saved The World Today," and while I find it mysterious, it probably seems tidily sensible to her: "Hey hey, I saved the world today/Everybody's happy now; the bad thing's gone away/Everybody's happy now; the good thing's here to stay/Please let it stay." As a huge fan of Buffy, she probably thinks the song is about slaying.

F is for Faces. Sometimes she'll fill an entire page with faces, body-less, like a sea of amoebas with eyes. Often they have a big shock of hair, like Troll dolls. Even more frequently, they have what resemble ear muffs. When I ask Jarrah to sign cards, she draws one trademark face and hands the card back. It's like she expects her retainer to be higher before she commits to two.

G is for Gymnastics. She's showing some aptitude without having had lessons. Already she does the splits purely for her own amusement. Oh, and not really related but awfully cool: she taught herself to pump on the swings about four months ago. She sails into the air, and I marvel that my pushing days are already over.

H is for Hilarious. As in, when she said out of the clear blue sky, "You know what I love, Mommy?" "What do you love, sweetheart?" "I love how you say 'I don't think I'm in a very sexy mood tonight!' in your play. That is SO funny." I can't imagine how she has this line verbatim when she never saw my play. Except on the video. Must have a conversation with her father...

I is for Imaginary Friend. There have been many, but currently we don't go anywhere without Maine from Maine. Maine is based on the daughter of my friend who actually lives in Maine (hi, Miss J!) but Jennifer did not actually name her child after their state of residence. It is also pertinent that Jarrah and "Maine" have never met. Today I had to "buy" two smoothies, two quesadillas, Purell two sets of hands, buckle two car seats, put on two pairs of socks and shoes...and hear about Maine, seemingly without breathing from the commentator, for about five hours. So far.

J is for Joy. Always, Jarrah loves her Chongqing cousin like a sister, except they hardly ever fight. I can motivate her to do absolutely anything by invoking her name. "If you blow your nose you might prevent a cold, which would mean you'll be able to see Joy in a few days" even worked.

K is for Keyboard. Jarrah can now type her name, either into the laptop or David's GPS. Writing it--not so much.

L is for Leaving. A protracted process of grieving, necessitating an emergency support group for "people who find it hard to say goodbye to friends." The pain is just as acute when the departed is someone she has known only an hour, like a little girl named Leah whom she befriended at a holiday party last week. She reminds me of Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest who has this gem: "It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time. The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable." Oh, so painfully true.

M is for Mac & Cheese. Still her favorite food, though I'm very proud of her--she's not a picky eater, and eats what we eat. Given her druthers, though, it's the orange stuff, every day (if I'd allow it.)

N is for Naps. Sadly, they are on the way out. She still wants them--three hours of them--but then it will be 11:30 at night and she's saying "So, where are we going now?" like we're on a cruise ship. If I let her sleep just an hour and wake her up, I pay and pay and pay with crying and kicking and all the things I'd like to do when my naps are cut short.

O is for Olfactory. She has a particularly finicky nose. She often recoils from my "stinky" hugs in the morning. One day she burst out "I just can't handle a stinky mommy!"

P is for Pretend. Most self-play is elaborate situations with multiple characters right now. I hear the characters negotiating about going to school or the park, and sometimes there is yelling and My Pretty Ponies who have to go in a time-out.

Q is for Queen. As in Drama Queen, totally to the max. Raising my voice slightly or expressing any kind of disappointment sets her wailing, instantly and lustily, with rivers of tears and so much volume people come running, assuming she's hacked off a finger.

R is for "Arrrrrrrr!" What pirates do. Jarrah is very into pirates for some reason, and looks so freakin' cute when she's imitating them. When I asked her what kind of birthday party she'd like, she replied enigmatically, "A pirate ship with a flower coming out of the top." And that's not a fluke--she's mentioned it several times. I'm not sure about the flower, but I did order her a Fisher-Price pirate ship--complete with booty.

S is for Stage. Not as in, "she's going through one," though that would apply, too. She speaks constantly of how she's going to be on stage, and "come out from the cor-tens," and while she sobbed when I told her no children were allowed at my play, she rallied quickly. "Well, I'm in a play, and no grown-ups are allowed," she told me. "They have to stay home with the Mommy-Daddy babysitter."

T is for Teaching. Jarrah has been exhibiting a pedagogical flair. For instance, when I made a wrong turn and said we were a bit lost, she said "And what have you learned? That you should really listen to your children more." On another occasion, when I regretted losing my temper with her and apologized, she squeezed my arm and said "That's okay, Mommy. You learned your lesson." An empath, too!

U is for Upside-Down. That's how she likes to watch TV, with her head on the seat and her legs flipped up over the backrest. She gets into this pose from a full run, canonballing into place.

V is for V----a. Recently, Jarrah announced that "some of the boys at school have an extra piece in front." (Quoth David: "Some of them?") I took a deep breath and explained that all boys have those. Then I told her the piece's name. "What's a p---s?" she asked. And then I did something very mature: I cracked up for about 10 minutes. When I was done, I said that it's a body part used for peeing, and that girls have a v----a for peeing. "'Cept I don't have one of those," she answered, with surprising conviction. I assured her that she did, and that it was like "a little hole in front." (Whaddaya want? I'm new to all this.) When David came home, I widened my eyes and said "Daddy, ask Jarrah what she learned about body parts today." "I learned that I have a penis, and it's like a little hole," she said. "Well, that's very...close!" I responded. The fun new terms have not come up again.

W is for Witches. Mean witches, only. "Nice witches don't have powers." She didn't even get scared watching The Wizard of Oz, because "I'm not afraid of witches--I'm a witch, too." So I guess it's a union thing. (That movie scared the crap out of me until I was like 12--flying monkeys, anyone?) Recently, there has been disturbing talk of switching allegiances from witches to ballerinas. She told me she might have to be afraid of witches now. "Oh, but I think you still have immunity," I said. "Huh?" she said.

X is for her favorite letter. She makes hundreds of them on sheet after sheet of paper, and also enjoys fashioning them out of my bobby pins.

Y is for "Yeah, but." This is her response to absolutely, positively everything in the entire universe. I could shout "The house is on fire! Run!" and she'd say "Yeah, but I'm kinda busy cuz I have to Scotch tape this magazine insert to one of your socks right now."

Z is for Zimbos. I'm not totally clear on who the Zimbos are, even though I invented them. Originally, I believe I was thinking of the Oompa-Loompas, but must now disguise that piracy since she's seen the movie. At any rate, the Zimbos live in Candyland, have the ability to turn anything into candy, and the power to put Jarrah to bed at night--the very last thing she asks for is "a Zimbo story." Guess who has to tell it.


katydidnot said...

oh the leaving bit. i love that. i feel like that. with old friends, one has memories to sustain oneself, with new friends, it's just sad parting.

Mrs. S said...

ahhhh how cute!!! :)

and I am SO scared of the flying monkeys still!!

DrSpouse said...

My nieces are really into pirates, too - I'll have to find you some Pugwash to look at (I think there's some on Youtube).

dena said...

Flying monkeys still scare me... maybe that's why my boys have yet to see The Wizzard of Oz?!?

I love your list! You are such a great mommy! I hope you have this written down for Jarrah, or are planning on turning it into a book for her. She will love it one day!

The Wades said...

Love that Jarrah! What a complex little person she is--and how in tune you are! I'm so impressed. I sat here wondering if I could generate such a list on any four of my children.

Speaking of Jarrah, I was thinking about her and you the other night at the hospital. Max's nurse Dwayne and his wife adopted a little girl from China about three years ago. He told me that he and his wife "got the pick of the litter" and I told him how beautiful my friend Sam's daughter was as well. :) May I call you friend, friend?

Thanks for sharing your precious daughter with us. Now update again so I have something entertaining to do in this hospital room. :)

Marlene said...

HILARIOUS! I love it. What is it with the enigmatic b-day party theme. Jacob's this year is "Mythical Creature Luau." Really. Good thing we're going to Hawaii next week. Supplies.

Marlene said...

p.s. I wonder if the Indian children are a hearkening back to the Bub. If she remembers Maine, why not India?

Mary said...

The alphabet should really have two j's-one for Jarrah and Joy.

Happy Birthday Jarrah!

You should do this list every year and see how it changes.



Anonymous said...

Awesome list. She's gonna love this stuff someday. My personal fave is Y, Yeah but, argh!
ps Howz Maine?

Chinazhoumom said...

That was great - I may just have to steal that idea -
Jarrah you are one super duper little girl!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I love that you can bribe her with Joy.

Jen said...

What a great birthday present this alphabet is!

I hope the little Miss J had a great b-day.

Miss J

p.s. so she can really blow her nose? I need Sage to take lessons from her!

Jennifer said...

I am way behind on my blog reading...once again! I had to comment on this one though. What a cute idea on your part to do the ABC thing...and how cute is your girl?!! Loved this one!

Anonymous said...! :) lix

PS. Where can I sign up for one of those Mommy-Daddy babysitters? We could use a night in alone. :)