This Old HouseAugust 6, 2012 at 12:45 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 8 Comments
Tags: Babies, Challenges, Children, Culture Shock, Expats, Family, Growing Up, Home, Life, Motherhood
“Tell us about when we were babies,” they ask.
Around the dinner table, soaking in bubbles, buckled in the car. All the time, they ask. “Tell us about when we were babies.”
And I know there are three small words they’re leaving off: in this house. Tell us about when we were babies in this house. This house with stairs on the inside, with green and brown and red walls, with refrigerator magnets and graham crackers.
Because, for all of us, this house feels equal parts foreign and familiar. They need stories to remind themselves: We were here once.
I try to remember. Between the damn soul-sucking heat and the dog hair every-damn-where, I try to concentrate on these babies and the joy they have brought to this place.
Once I push back thoughts of the stickiness and loudness and sheer volume of laundry they have also brought, wispy feathers of memory start to tickle the corners of my brain: how Giggles used to chew contentedly on his socks until I rescued him from the crib every morning, how Lollipop’s hat collection once took up nearly every drawer in her room.
We gather around the outlet where her butterfly nightlight exploded and stare so hard we think we can actually see the long-gone singe marks. “That’s why we don’t play with lecktristy,” lectures Giggles.
In the playroom, we find a red foam block covered in tiny teeth marks. “Who … did … that?” they ask between guffaws and gasping breaths. I can’t remember. “I … think … it … was … you!” they point at each other, still cackling.
We look at the baby pictures on the hall bookcase. Three bald heads. Three big smiles. Three sets of chubby cheeks. Which one is me? they each want to know. I point out Lollipop’s heart-embroidered blue jeans, Giggles’ green Christmas vest, Bun’s dapper red jammies.
The next time we pass by, carting my silk flower collection and a bucket of rocks to make fairy houses, they pause over their photos. “That’s me,” they smile. Now, they have context. They have a beginning. They have a mental bridge to take them from this house to that house and back to this one again.
That’s me. In this house.
I’m glad I can give them something to wrap their minds and fingers around, a few funny, comfy stories. We were here once. This is home.
But I can’t help wondering: Who will reassure me?
Do your children ask for these stories? What do you tell them? And who does it soothe more, them … or you?