The Baby


Early this afternoon, just as I was putting The Baby down to sleep, it began to rain. The thunder rolled continuously in the distance and as I came back downstairs, it began to rain harder. I stood for a minute, looking out the kitchen window at my gardens. I had planned to work in the gardens while he slept. I am definitely not made of sugar and I have been known to garden in the rain – even the pouring rain – but generally, it is considered a reasonable choice to not garden in the pouring rain. And that is the choice I made. So what should I do with my time?

I’ve got some new (to me) dining room furniture and so I could easily fill up nap time by cleaning glass and moving dishes and crystal. I’m behind on the laundry (as usual), so spending a couple hours catching up there would be time well spent. There are always dishes. Or dusting. Or the pile of crap in front of the freezer in the basement that I need to deal with. I could even get a head start on dinner.

But no. I did none of that. Instead, I made cup of peppermint tea and buttered – with the whey butter I recently discovered at the local Farmers’ Market and highly recommend – a thick slice of cinnamon roll bread, took some simple knitting and sat out on the porch.

I was well out of the rain, but sat in the cool and damp swirling air, had a clear view of the lightening, and could hear the rain falling and dripping in the garden and running in the downspout.

Max, the cat who came back, kept me company from the window.

I rocked and knitted and sipped my tea for most of an hour. It was lovely. I could have been more productive, sure, but I don’t think the time could have been better spent.

I can’t believe that July is almost over. How can we have been so busy and there still be so much more we wanted to do? We’ve done some of this:

And this:

And lots of this:

So… eight days left in this month and then all of August. We’ll be sure to make the best use – not necessarily just the most productive use – of our time, our Summertime. Right now, since the rain has stopped and the sun is shining again, I’m going to slip on my shoes and go out to do my daily inspection of the vegetable gardens and to top up the bird feeders. I know that sounds productive, but it is all play, trust me ;)

Babies and bubbles and dandelions.
Babies and bubbles and dandelions.

I love Spring. I had forgotten how much I love it – not because it’s been a whole year since we had it, but because it has been years since we had a *real* one. This year it is perfect: some very warm days, some very cool days. The nights are sometimes cold and we are not clear of frost danger yet. Sun and rain, wind and calm, warm and cool, clear and overcast. Perfect :)

The Baby spends hours every day exploring the backyard: picking flowers, digging in the pots, splashing in the bird bath, driving toy trucks through the grass. Jordan blows bubbles and then together they chase them down. There is a rabbit that comes to visit. He seems unconcerned and happily nibbles dandelion leaves in the lawn as long as we don’t move directly toward him. When we do, he slowly hops away without any real urgency and is always back a little while later.

The trees are *almost* in full leaf now and when they are, it’ll only be a few weeks until Summer. We have some plans for the Summer: a week at a cottage, days at the pool.. but not too much. The rest of the year is jam-packed with events and outings and classes; we’re going to keep our Summer low-key. Jordan has asked for a hammock. He envisions spending hours at a time, lying in a shady spot reading a book. He is working on his summer reading list. It gets longer by the day *grin* I used to spend my summers reading and remember it fondly and not without longing. I’ve already begun shopping for that hammock :)

Babies and dandelions.

Brothers.
Brothers

The weather has been gorgeous: warm and sunny. The Baby has come to expect at least one trip to the park each day. He enjoys the trip there and back almost as much as the playground itself. The back road is a long stretch of paved path so he can Walk! By himself! Outside! hehehhe :) Those little legs don’t look like they could carry him nearly as far as they do. He is determined and undeterred by stumbles or distance or the longer legs of his travel companions. His favourite companion is always Jordan. The two of them have formed a Society of Intense Mutual Adoration. I like to watch as The Baby’s pair of little eager legs trot along beside Jordan’s long athlete’s legs that stride with confidence, both boys travelling down the same road, but each with experience and motivation so uniquely his own, that if it were not for their companionship, they could be on different roads altogether.

My favourite goalie.
My favourite goalie in the whole world. Photos by my dad.

Last weekend, Jordan’s team played in the championship game for his hockey division. It was a nailbiter, with our team looking like it would take the win until the very last minutes, when the other team came from behind to take it. It was a great game, with both teams playing hard. The champions were undefeated in the playoffs and second place is nothing to sniff at. Jordan played well and made some great saves. And we celebrated with family for the whole day.

I don’t know how he does it. Being the goalie is so out there. You are One. You don’t blend in with the rest of your team. And your mistakes are counted on the scoreboard for all to see. Only I count all the shots kept out of the net. People tend to see the loss and think, “if the goalie had only stopped more shots…”. But in this game, like many others, the losing team’s goalie had a higher save percentage than the winning team’s goalie. It its truly a team sport, but the goal tender is right out there, in plain view. He plays the whole game and knows that the less informed blame him for games he didn’t lose. There are a lot of things that are difficult about being a parent, and parenting Jordan has had it special challenges. But one of the hardest things about my role as Jordan’s Mom, is being a Goalie Mom. It isnt’ the schedule or driving to games and practices. It isn’t even that we have to hemorrhage money every year for new equipment (but being a regular player would be WAY cheaper)… it is the stress. I know how much pressure he is under – from himself, but mostly from his teammates and their parents. I know how bad he feels when a goal goes in. I know that he knows that sometimes people blame him when it isn’t his fault. I know that some players intentionally charge the goalie trying to injure him. And while he seems to actually ENJOY all that… I sit in the stands wondering vaguely if I’m having a heart attack and feeling my hair going grey and mouth going dry and I try to remember why I didn’t sign him up for choir or something instead.

The answer of course is, because Jordan has always loved hockey and from the time he was two years old, he said he was a goalie. To a parent, this is a Sign – not that your child is going to play in the NHL, but that you really need to make room in your family life for hockey, and a lot of it. And yeah. We’ve done and are doing that, but I am certain it has shortened my lifespan significantly.

Glove save!
Glove save! Always a crowd pleaser :)

A few weeks ago, Jordan got out the ministicks and taught The Baby to play. The Baby took to it right away and brings sticks to us, especially to Jordan, so we play stick hockey in the kitchen with him. Jordan insists that he will be a goalie too but I find myself saying, very firmly, “No”. This is contrary to my parenting philosophy – that you must follow your child’s lead, take cues and listen. That you must do what you reasonably can to give them the opportunity and tools to explore and experience what interests them. But I don’t know if I can do this again. Hockey Mom, yes. Goalie Mom, I’m not so sure. I know parents whose kids played goal for a while, then the parents found it to be too much and told them no more goal tending and that was it. I know parents who have an older child who is a goaltender and then didn’t give the option to their younger children.

I know that it is too soon to decide. I know that some of the biggest and proudest things Jordan has ever accomplished are part of being a hockey goalie. I know that it is about him and not about me. But I also know that when The Baby picks up a ministick to play hockey in the kitchen, I’ll often remove from his hand the goalie stick he chose and give him a player’s stick instead.

Ow ow ow
No pain, no gain, they say. I don’t buy that, really. Lots and lots of things are ‘gains’ and they don’t hurt at all. But some gains do. And right now, I’m well into the hurting phase of one of them. In this case, the “pain” is in the form of energy expended. I have precious little of that anyway, and always have to carefully manage. But I have to manage especially closely and more carefully now. I’m four weeks in and have another five weeks to go. ithinkicanithinkicanithinkican :)

April 2 and still freaken cold. Yesterday it got quite warm for a few hours, but then chilly again and it snowed a little last night. But warmer temperatures are coming this week. Yay! I see pictures all over the the blogiverse of people in short sleeves and of daffodils and tulips blooming in gardens. Nope. Not a single one here. I did see a woman in short sleeves the other day, but she was way pregnant, and had been overheated for months already; so she doesn’t count :)

The Baby has learnt to indicate the affirmative by nodding… well, not really his head, but his whole body all at once in a gesture that is so cute it hurts to behold. Until now he has used an all-purpose “uh?” for any opinion he might care to express and it was up to us to guess what it meant this time. No more guessing now. He is clearly enjoying the power of his new communication skill and when you ask a question to which his answer is yes, he pauses, leans back, pauses again and then undulated forward from his head right down to his knees, savouring every nuance. The rest of the family is so taken with this show of brilliance that we ask question after question that will surely be answered in the affirmative, just to see him do it again and then cheer and clap as if he had just done it for the first time. I’m afraid to actually work out how many cookies he likely got today as “Would you like a cookie?” is probably the question that is most certain to elicit the So Cute It Hurts Full Body Undulating Nod of Affirmation.
Of course, we took the time to teach him that when we ask, “Are you cute?” the is answer is, undoubtedly, yes. :)

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