Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Pennies from heaven
Last night, to distract the dotter from OmegaDad's frequent forays into the outback (the OmegaGarden), I haphazardly grabbed a section of newspaper, flung it onto the living room floor, then grabbed the penny pot. Then gasped, held it tighter, and groaned as I heaved the 10-ton cheaper-by-the-dozen vase from the florist over to the newspaper and turned it on its side, spilling out the cornucopia of coins. (The Cleaning of the Cars this weekend yielded an unexpected bonus: a boatload of change which had filled our penny pot to overflowing. It was heavy.) I charged OmegaDotter with sorting out the pennies while I sorted out the bigger coinage. I was done with the sortage of quarters, dimes and nickels before she had barely touched the pennies. For those who have no experience with four-year-olds, the lure of shiny new pennies may have no resonance. But for the Dotter, only the best, shiniest pennies counted. All the others could remain behind in the huge heap, part of the madding crowd, as she crowed over her shiny pennies and carefully arranged them into tiny towers, then tilted them over, then counted them up again. While she was cherishing her pennies, she chattered on a variety of conversational topics. What was to the fore, however, was Mr. Incredible. "Mr. Incredible's very strong, Mama. Did you know that?" "Mmm-hmm," I said, grabbing more quarters. "He can lift up trees!" "No kidding!" I said, moving on to dimes. "Some of the trees are this big!" And she spread her arms wide, indicating a truly humongous tree, to a four-year-old. "Wow! That's huge!" I began rummaging for nickels. "Yeah! He's very strong. Is he stronger than you, mommy?" "Oh, I'm sure he is." I poured out some more coins. "Hmm. Is he stronger than daddy?" "Well, he probably is, dear." "When I grow up, do you think I can be an Incredible?" I peer at my tiny dotter, with her tiny hiney and slender waist. "Hmmm. I don't really think so, dear." "Oh. Well, when I'm grown up, can I become a...a...a..." "A Super? Well, we think you're pretty Super just the way you are." Stoke that self-esteem, dontcha know? "Maybe I'll be able to pick up trees when I'm a grown-up!" she chirped hopefully. When I packed up the various stacks of coins into separate zippies, she insisted on having another zippy just for her shiny pennies. Then there was the discussion about where to keep her special pennies. The conversation continued all through dinner. Lively, laughing, chitter-chatter that invited us to respond. It was a real dialogue--she'd ask questions, we'd respond, she'd follow up. After dinner, as Dotter was doing her pre-bathtime bathroom duty, OmegaDad angled an eyebrow at me, and said, "Boy! She was most charming tonight! I wonder if we can bottle it?" I thought longingly of having this joyous child at our dinnertable every night, and sighed. "We'd make a fortune!" he continued. "I'm not selling it, dammit!" I said. "We're going to keep it all for ourselves!" This did not go over well with OmegaDad, who was already fermenting marketing ideas and copyright tradenames for the bottled elixir. I'm told that girlchildren start toning down the whininess and tantums around five. That it then lasts until they are around 11 or 12. Maybe we were getting a glimpse of our next six years with the dotter? All I can say is that, my poor story-telling abilities aside, it was a charmed night. Nary a whine in sight, no grumpiness, no snotty back-talk; it was a joy and a delight to be with the dotter, and I was sorry to watch her fall asleep after I had read her about Angelina and the Butterfly. She and I have been out bikeriding, and she can now bike at a ferocious pace, passing me as I pedal leisurely down the street. She's beginning to let me help her float on her back at the pool, and pull her here and there by her arms with her head up. Her body is lengthening. She's letting me comb her hair without the Drama. She's learning more and more about horsies than I ever knew. It's a joy and a wonder to watch her blossom and grow.