Things We Do & Say

I still never could have imagined the things I would do for my girls. Like seek out a donkey for a play date. Every single night, for a nineteen months to be exact, Betty has wished on a star for a donkey. Some girls want a pony and she wants a donkey. She wants one as a pet. And since all our pets have Native American inspired middle names, she’d like the donkey to have an Indian middle name. I want her to be happy but we will not be housing a donkey in town – I ‘m quite sure the livestock rules that enable chickens in town don’t apply to donkeys. I asked her if a donkey play date would suffice and she said,

“I want a donkey and if I only get it for sixty-three hundred days instead of for my whole life, I guess I’d still be happy.”


Four hours will have to work. Hopefully, a farmer will come through. Here’s the ad:

Wanted: Donkey for Afternoon. My five year old daughter has been asking for a donkey for a year and a half. It’s her evening wish-on-a-star. I live in town and would love to borrow your donkey for the afternoon. She would also like to give your donkey a middle name, if that’s possible. Price:? I’ll make you bread if I can borrow your donkey.

The things we do, the things we say. I’ll let you know if I get any calls from the classified.

Some days I feel like there’s so much in this house it’s a wonder we can find anything. And when things get lost, my things in particular, I lose myself in the search and become almost OCD about it. I remember at those lost moments that Lucy used to throw everything out of place away, a quality inherited by her Uncle Matt, no doubt, and we are still without a DVD remote (goodbye, subtitles). The other day I told Betty I lost my cell phone, on silent ring of course.
Betty said, “Mom, it isn’t lost. It’s just invisible to you. It exists, just not somewhere you can see it. It’s visible in another place right now. And when you calm down and stop looking, that’s when you’ll see it.”

How Luke. How Zen. How funny.


Maybe I’m trying to make myself feel better about clutter or my lack of Pottery Barn style, but I’m happy our home looks like children live here. We just passed the two year mark and I feel the most settled here, on this island than I have within the other seven towns I’ve called home. Here, there is no basement. Our children share a room in our tiny Craftsman. And when I say tiny, I chuckle. It was considered average when it was built scores ago and housed families with more children than we have. Yes, accumulated stuff has changed right with square footage but why would I need rooms I don’t even visit during the day? So, I’m happy my children’s art is placed on the wall beside ours, kid books spill daily on the Oriental rug and wooden play fruit ends up at our kitchen table. When I was teaching, I tried so hard to make the sterile classroom feel like home: lamps, area rugs and plants. Now, home, my house looks like a preschool. Go figure.



Stepping on the scale, I need to make sure I don’t disturb a sleeping Ruffie
(Lucy’s number one pal).

It’s funny what Luke and I saved from our childhood. Some time ago, we cleaned his collection of Legos. With each primary-colored square, it seemed he had a story to tell. As a boy, he played in Montana’s creeks and was lucky to live downstream from his neighbor. A boy spoiled, in Luke’s opinion, with the newest Lego had to offer. This boy sunk, submerged and shot from a catapult into the mucky waters almost every piece we cleaned. Luke foraged in that stream and built his collection. The windows, trees and archways are, still, his favorite treasures. I’m happy to report our girls adore his collection.

I even remember the birthday I received the orange tabby cat figurine (pictured above). Every year, I won a birthday party at Enfield Roller Way. It was a way to drive up sales at the roller rink’s concession stand, I guess. But I really thought I won for years, as did my friends. It was the year Cabbage Patch caused fist fights and Strawberry Shortcake was hot.

It’s funny how these things fill our house holding our memories while creating new ones. Sometimes I’m too busy to really listen to their play and I miss out on the dialogue of it while starting a load of laundry or talking to some insurance robot on the telephone. But I’m thankful for the dioramas left behind and the items united around the house.

With a passing down of our memories also comes shared loves. I couldn’t say enough about how much I adore Betty’s love of language in lyrics, poetry and spoken word. It’s magnetic. I write a play, attend rehearsals and home, she is, writing undecipherable script after script and putting on bedtime productions in our living room. Now, she’s started poetry readings as a way to communicate the injustice in her world. Ingenious, really, because it gets our attentions so much more than the whining and tears previously did. I wish we could record all of them but, alas, hands are often full and pens and paper often out of reach. And then it occurred to me. Our pockets always have our iPods and on them is that fabulous Notes feature. While nursing Olive yesterday morning I was trying to decipher the screams, tears and cascading thumps down the stairs.


It’s definitely wooden, whatever it is, falling, I told myself, I don’t need to get up.

Then the strangest thing happened. Lucy said, “I’m putting myself in TIMEOUT!” and their bedroom door slammed shut. Betty entered, huffing, and seconds later Lucy entered whereupon Betty recited, holding a remote as microphone and a discarded bill as prose:
Lucy, Don’t Push Me Down the Stairs

Lucy, your lips are as red as a rose,
your hair goldener than a trophy.
Lucy please don’t push me
especially down the steps.
I didn’t like falling down the stairs in
Coupeville, and I really wouldn’t enjoy
being pushed down them.
Lucy, I love you but when you made me
drop my doll bed down the stairs and it
broke, I looked at your lips that are as
red as a rose and started to cry.
Lucy, you can always play with me
but, please Lucy please, don’t break my
toys or push me.

There used to be so much drama with tears and tattletales and incoherent screams and finally we can see that slipping away. Maybe it’s Betty’s age or maybe it’s that she really is starting to realize if you want to be heard, you need to step away and put it on paper. That’s what I hope, anyway. I’m sure the dramatic screams will return, maybe even tonight, but I hope she doesn’t lose her voice in them.

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