Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Precious Little Darlings (Seriously)

I don't usually wax sentimental about children. Many of you know that I am easily overwhelmed by the little beasts. Once, my dear friend Mary called me excitedly with an idea: How about she and I open a day care center?

"Oh, honey." I said. "You seem to be under the misapprehension that I like children. That's very sweet."

But joking aside, there are moments when I think I might understand that ridiculous concept, "the innocence of children," though my grasp is fleeting. Two of these moments have occurred in the past week.

The first one featured Jarrah and Joy on Christmas at Joy's house. J and J were playing in Joy's room, and something went askew, as it does very infrequently with these two. I heard some squabbling, and found Jarrah sulking and teary. After I cross-examined them both, I thought I sensed the subtext.

"Jarrah, are you feeling jealous because Joy's cousins are here, and you don't like to share her?"

Jarrah nodded, face furious, eyes wet. Jarrah has always had trouble sharing Joy. Since they're both only children, it's not often an issue between them.

Joy watched this exchange, and then said very calmly, as if years of experience and wisdom were guiding her:

"I think Jarrah thinks I love my cousins bigger than her. But the way I love them is different. My cousins are already six and 10 (note: they're actually 10 and 15) and that is different. Jarrah and I are the same age and we will always be that. Jarrah, you don't need to worry that I love them bigger than you; I love them different. And Jarrah, you're my best friend--I could never love a friend bigger than you."

I stood there, amazed at the understanding and maturity of this little speech, and my eyes filled with tears. My voice cracked a little when I said:

"Joy, you are...such a good friend. Isn't she a good friend, Jarrah?"

But Jarrah, bless her heart, is not old enough to align her feelings and her behavior (some of us never get there, right?) and continued to sulk with her arms crossed. Only the increase in tears spilling over her cheeks told me that she was not immune to the sentiment. In any case, it was only another minute before they were building a fort for kitties under Joy's bed, and the whole thing was forgotten.

But not by me.

Yesterday, we spent the day in La Jolla Shores with Jane, her sister, Danielle, and Danielle's two daughters, Rachel (12) and Aliza (7.) It was one of those sunny December afternoons with a navy blue ocean and beamy sunshine that make you wonder how anyone lives anywhere but here, so serene and lovely that I didn't even lose it when Jarrah charged into the waves fully dressed. How could she resist?

Before the tidepooling, we had lunch at an outdoor cafe, with a surf shop next door. Danielle's girls are delightful company, and incredibly sweet with Jarrah. They were all clamoring to shop for some reason, so Jane accompanied them while I went to move the car. When I returned, Jarrah was showing Jane an, um, distinctive necklace--a pendant with a huge, pink sparkling heart. Jarrah wanted to buy this necklace, ostensibly for me. When I demurred, everyone headed out, but Jarrah and Aliza were still near the jewelry, and Rachel was browsing nearby. Suddenly, Aliza said:

"I need to talk to Jarrah's mommy privately." We all sort of froze, and then I said:

"Okay. What's up?" Aliza looked at Jarrah, and said "Do you have some shopping to do...elsewhere?" Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Rachel looking half-amused, half-alarmed. I thought fast.

"Rachel, can you take Jarrah outside for a minute? Thanks." Aliza took my arm and led me back to the heart necklace.

"Can I ask you a big favor?" she said. She looked at me very seriously. She has gorgeous eyes, with lashes lush as a pony. "Step over here for a moment." I was trying hard not to laugh, not sure what to think.

"If I buy Jarrah this necklace, do you think you could give it to her at her birthday party, since I have to go back to Seattle?"

My face just melted. "Aliza, that is so sweet of you! Of course I could do that." She ran off, saying she needed to speak to her mom. Frankly, I figured that would be the end of it. Aliza clearly didn't have any money. I was outside chatting with Jane when I saw that Aliza had led her mother back into the shop and a transaction was taking place. Next thing I knew, Jarrah was wearing the pink heart.

"Jarrah." I whispered. "Give Aliza a big hug." I thanked her and Danielle. "I just couldn't say no to that kind of generous impulse," Danielle told me. And clearly, the apple doesn't fall far...well, you know the rest.

Again, I was a bit teary over this incident, though Jarrah was oblivious. I couldn't get my mind around a 7-year-0ld actually scheming to buy a gift for another child. It makes me hopeful for the future.


Stephanie said...

Love this, all of it.

Mrs. Chapman's 2nd Grade Class said...

Kids are really very thoughtful. Don't get me wrong...they can also be very cruel. I see it everyday. But, luck for me I also get to see the sweet stuff and that makes the bad stuff not so bad.

LunaMoonbeam said...

She's got some sweet little friends!

erin said...

That was a very sweet account. Makes me think fondly of my daughters (who are at this moment in 'rest time' for getting into a pushing fight outside in the snow earlier this afternoon)...
Maybe I should go 'rest' with them.

Jen said...


Myrnie said...

Lovely lovely :) It's the little moments that matter.

Mary said...

Super warm fuzzies.



Anonymous said...

I'm tear-ing up over here... Stop it! :) lix