Monday, October 25, 2010

To my little boy, the insomniac

You are sleeping now, finally.  Every nap and every night is a fight, but once you are asleep, you stay asleep.  Still, it is a fortunate day when you nap, and an even more fortunate night when you fall asleep before midnight.  I get you to sleep by cuddling you in a dark room for an hour or more, but I usually end up asleep before you.  All of my waking moments belong to you, and I am afraid to move you when you nap or you won't nap at all.

I know you don't want to miss anything.  I know the world is new and exciting and now that you are mobile, there is so very much to see.  Your personality is starting to settle in, and what I see more than anything is overwhelming curiosity.  You have always been so alert and so aware of your surroundings, even as a newborn you looked into the eyes of others and began to understand.

Thanks to your grandmother, you have more toys than we know what to do with, but you don't care much for them.  You'd rather sit outside under the trees, swing in the park, and steal electronic devices and skeins of yarn off the couch.  The world is your toy.  The world is yours to mold under your creative will.  You are already manipulating your environment through pillow forts, figuring out the mechanics of baby gates, and removal of wall outlet covers.

Little one, it surprised me when you began to speak even though you weren't even nine months old yet.  You still only have a couple of words, but you know how to use them.  Early talker, late mover, and you are just now figuring out how to sit up on your own without being placed.  Maybe you just didn't have anyone to model that after.  After meeting another little boy and watching him cruise on furniture, you had the cruising skill mastered within days.

You are growing up so fast.  Every day is a new skill.  You are 10 months old and perfect.  Soon you won't be a baby anymore and will never be a baby again.  Soon I'll have to set you loose on the world and see where your exuberant personality and obvious intelligence take you.  You'll always be my baby, but I resign myself to knowing that one day you will be a man.

For now I'd rather watch you sleep, innocent one.  You are cuddled up on my lap, snoring softly.  You are beautiful and happy, energetic and inquisitive.  I will hold on to these moments to recall in the future days when you are a sullen teenager and a busy adult.  Silky hair, soft skin, color-changing eyes, a slight smile when you sleep.  I'm saving this moment for later.  I am slowly raising you and teaching you to be a wonderful person, but for now, sleep, dream, play, learn, and live surrounded by love.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just Play

I am not a grown-up. I am old enough by far to qualify as one, and I am an adult. I feel like the moment I grow up is the moment I forget how to play. I don't want to forget. I don't want to be serious. I show restraint most of the time, but sometimes I just need to let loose and run through the trees, lost in a fantasy. Am I a woodland fairy, a deer, a hawk soaring low on the hunt? I want to keep my vivid imagination intact.  I can't write unless I can put myself in the mind of another, and I need to hold on to the child in me to do that.

I am a responsible adult.  I have an engineering degree, a mortgage, a family.  I had a "real" job until it became evident that I wasn't getting paid enough to make it worth the stress once I subtracted gas and daycare from my wages.  I am responsible for the little man crawling joyfully around my feet right now.  He is looking up at me and smiling and I am playing with him even while writing this.  We are playing "hide the mouse from the baby".  Sometimes that is all it takes to entertain.  I am his mother, his caretaker, his soul provider of nutrition for the first six-and-a-half months of his life, his playmate, his diaper changer.  If I ever forget how to play, how could we relate so flawlessly?  I can make toys from paper and plastic bottles, create soft friendly bears from a ball of yarn and some stuffing.  My imagination frees us from the need for manufactured toys, though we have a houseful thanks to my mother.

There is too much seriousness in the world.  Too much grown-up behavior.  Take a break from it.  Forget about your job and your bills for a few minutes and play with your children.  Pretend.  Be the dragon to their knights and princesses.  Go out side and make up stories about clouds and birds.  Paint a picture together.  If you don't have children, play anyways.  It's refreshing, really, it is.  Sled down a hill, roll in the grass, jump in a pile of leaves, just do something!  Life is so much better when you allow yourself a moment of fun within the otherwise endless doldrums of routine responsibility.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Life in Stitches

Stitch by stitch an object is created. One element on top of another, repeated over and over again in a variable sequence. What begins as an indistinguishable mass slowly and tediously takes shape to become a recognizable object. Order from chaos, the basis of the entire universe summed up in one little craft project. Each stitch an atom, each row a molecule, the object a sum of its parts and the realization of a thousand little stitches. I can follow the same pattern a hundred times, but each outcome will be slightly different. Different stitch, different tightness on the hook, different isotope. The yarn will have variations. Whatever I create is absolutely unique, and it is not just because I have the compulsion to combine colors in strange ways and add stitching flourishes where there usually aren't any.

My compulsion to crochet has been renewed. For the past week, I've been creating hats. Every one of them is different. I use different stitch patterns, different types and textures of yarns, and different colors. They fit on different sized heads. I made a newborn hat for a friend's baby, a toddler hat that my son does not fit into yet, and three sizes in between. Five hats so far.

I don't remember when I learned to crochet. I did it quite a bit in college, and my interest has waxed and waned ever since. I've made huge objects, like a 8x6ft afghan, and small objects like baby socks. I crochet when I watch TV or movies because I can never sit still. I always need something to occupy my hands and mind. My house is full of things I've made, and other houses have pieces of my idle work as well. I've made baby gifts and birthday presents. My favorite was a partially dismembered zombie doll I gave to my amazing friend for her birthday.

The little creature in the picture above is the recipient of most of my current work. He is quite a fan of hats, and I'm glad for that because I'm working on his fourth hat now. I'll probably keep making baby hats for a while. I have a few more friends with babies due soon. Winter babies need warm heads and I need something to occupy my hands.

Stitch by stitch by stitch an object is created. One wrong snip and it can unravel into a totally unrecognizable mess. One right stitch, and something beautiful emerges. Something of my own creation, unique by my hand, unrepeatable, and fascinatingly strange.