30 September 2007

i'm telling you stories (trust me)*

i’m pretty sure i’ve found the right coffee house for me in my new town. the wall in front of me is papered in old copies of maps from around the world. there’s a bird migration in the americas map, and a beautiful topo of the heart of the grand canyon (a place i’ve never been to, believe it or not). this is the quiet room in the back with domestic lighting and a few tattered lounge chairs thrown into the mix of tables. lucky for me, my airport card is disabled, so i’m not distracted by the possibility of internet connection. for weeks now, i’ve tried to sit down and write this post in our office room in our new place. there are still some boxes in there that need unpacking, and audio cassette tape shelves to be built. there’s email to be answered, and i haven’t had lunch. i wanted to upload those pictures, cosmo will be up from his nap any minute, and before i know it, the time for blog posting is gone. today i got serious and stuffed my laptop in my back pack, jumped on my bike and headed downtown. carl’s reading in the great green chair at home. he’ll be there when cosmo wakes up, so i can leisurely drink my latte and finally write this entry.

two days ago carl said to me cosmo seems older today. i had to agree. it happens that way sometimes. they just suddenly grow up. he’s entered that wonderful age of pretend play and story telling. though his vocabulary expands exponentially every day, he doesn’t talk in sentences yet, but he somehow manages to tell stories from his day.

last night, before bed, he couldn’t stop reenacting an encounter he’d had that morning with another boy his size, at a children’s concert at the library. instead of sitting quietly in his seat in the small auditorium, cosmo had been going up and down the side aisle steps trying to coax other toddlers into to chasing him across the rows. half way through the show, he finally got a taker, and they were having a grand ol’ time running back and forth, giggling and stumbling. by this point, lots of kids were out of their seats, and dancing was encouraged. we had stopped hovering over him, and cosmo was up a few rows from where we were seated. i looked up just in time to see two small heads collide and fall. both boys were bawling by the time the two mothers reached them. i picked up cosmo, sure that his were sympathy tears. but he got louder, and really seemed to be in pain. i held him, soothed him, and rather quickly distracted him with an unplugged sound board in the back. he laughed when he saw it, recovered from his boo-boo and went back to running around and dancing. the other kid seemed to be ok too. later that day, he pointed to his head and said boo-boo so, we talked about it, and i decided to give him a chance to really work through it. i told him to go to his room and get a couple of his little people. he came back with one of the mechanics from the garage, and a power puff girl action figure. i made like they were chasing each other, then i had them bump heads, fall over and say oww! he loved it! we did it a bunch of times, he did it on his own, and eventually we moved on to marbles or went outside to play. that night at bedtime, as we often do, carl and i reviewed a few of the days events with him, including the collision in the theatre. cosmo and i read some stories and were about to lie down to sleep, when cosmo started doing something with his hands, and then smacking them together. i couldn’t quite figure it out at first. he wasn’t saying oww or boo-boo but it didn’t look like any other sign he’d ever done (and he has some pretty elaborate ones these days). i called carl in to confirm, and he too thought it was about the head butting incident. i asked him, and did it with him using his bear, and a plush toy dog, adding an oww at the end. he started doing it with the a oww too, and did it over and over and over again. finally, i assured him that i knew what had happened, that it was great that he could tell the story, but he was ok now, and it was time to go to sleep. he grabbed his sippylcup, laid down on his tummy and soon fell fast asleep.

in addition to the reliving of past events, he has also started playing with figures in a way that suggests he’s got some invented stories going on, and he’s acting them out with the toys. they may not be very complex scenarios yet, but hell, how would i know? i’m not privy to them yet. it’s something he just does on his own. it makes me so happy for him, (and envious) to see him embark on what i hope will be a rich and exciting journey into his own imagination.

another sign of cosmo’s sudden maturity is that he is learning how to make friends. sure, everyone’s a little awkward at first, but he’s really trying. here’s his technique: find someone close to your size, approach them, stand directly in front of them and look them in the face. if they look back, point in some direction you want them to run, or simply turn and run off, and look back to see if they are coming. since chase is his favorite game, this is what he usually invites his prospective friends to engage in with him. it takes the kids a while to figure it out, but eventually someone starts chasing him, and in the case of one slightly older, rougher boy, he may end up getting tagged, tackled and even de-pantsed. it’s all fun and games, ‘til somebody gets hurt (see story above). it is so wonderful though, to see him reaching out. he’ll go wondering out into the mix of kids, turn, come back to us (home base) for a hug, then head back out and try again. last night at a pizza parlor, he set his sights on a younger red-headed girl. she seemed interested, and would face off with him, but never figured out the chasing part.

in other news, we are getting settled in our new place. i miss the familiarity of houston, knowing how to get around, recognizing faces. i can’t find my hair color anywhere in this town, so instead of fire red, my hair is now auburn. it’s very disappointing, however, i have found, for the first time in years, stay-free-ultra-thin-maxi without wings (thank you jesus). bloomington is a small town, and i have a bike now, with a baby seat, so we use the car less and less. we have great neighbors, and spend a lot of time outside. i feel like our quality of life here is quite high.

i’ve been reflecting on the notion of permanence. i know our move here is temporary, that we’ll be doing this again next year. i found myself telling chuck the other day on the phone, that even though i never picture returning to houston to live, i feel like my separation from him is not permanent. it doesn’t make any sense, i know. i guess it is a coping mechanism. i don’t want to know what this move really means.

p.s. it took me a week after writing it to get this post online. last week, cosmo reenacted the collision story using a jesus action figure and a small buddha statue.

*a line from the passion by jeanette winterson