Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Bitter and the Sweet

Exhibit A:
Bub is looking for his mouse book. "Where’s One Grey Mouse?" he demands, spinning his head this way and that, not quite frantic yet, but close.

"It’s over there," I respond, pointing to a small bookshelf.

Bub does his elaborate pointing-mimicry game, screwing up his face to squeeze one eye shut and darting out his index finger at a rakish angle, roughly approximating the direction in which I’m pointing. He’s not necessarily looking in that direction, though, so I coach him. "No, down!"

He turns to face me and then looks at his feet, as if expecting the book to materialize there like magic. "No, over! And down!" I’m jabbing my finger in the direction of the bookshelf, he’s jabbing his in all directions, and finally the Pie scrambles off the couch, grabs the book from the shelf and presents it to Bub in triumph, with much mutual shouting of "Hurray!" and "You found it!" There is general jumping up and down and celebration, and I reflect that although Bub is apparently incapable of following a simple pointing gesture, he is generous of heart and he loves his sister.

Exhibit B:
We slept in this morning.

This was, apparently, because hubby had a late-ish court date this morning, though I had no way of knowing this when I looked at the clock and discovered that it was 7:20 instead of the usual 6:30. (Bub was out of bed already of course, having gotten up at 5:30, but he had been ushered down to the playpen where he takes his naps in the dim light of the basement rec room. Barbaric, I know – but I’ve somehow never managed to absorb the idea that it’s wrong to confine children if that will get them an additional two hours of sleep.)

As I poured out my Life cereal and orange juice, I enjoyed the unusual sensation of feeling rested and alert, enjoying my coffee for the sweet, creamy flavour rather than the needed caffeine jolt. This pleasant sensation almost – but not quite – outweighed the general chaos of our disrupted morning routine. Instead of munching quietly with Bub before the rest of the household arose, I was running interference for both children, jumping to mop up spilled drinks, replace Corn Squares with Shreddies, and respond to numerous demands of "Read a book this one!" from the Pie. When I barked at hubby, "If you’re thinking of having a shower, you can just wait until I finish my breakfast!" he wondered if I was cross about the spilled juice, or if it was something else. "No, pretty much just that," I responded.

Then the kids got up from breakfast, and Bub began wailing in horror because his favourite TV show came on, the one he usually watches at day-care, and as he bitterly protested this unconscionable violation of the morning-routine treaty, I reflected that the apple falls not so far from the tree. "We’re not so different, you and I," I told Bub in a deep, melodramatic voice.

"No TV!" he screamed in reply.

Exhibit C:
I started a routine of bedtime prayers with Bub the other night. I had thought of doing so before, but it seemed unlikely that he would understand or cooperate, so I let things slide. Recently, though, he has begun to participate enthusiastically in the rhyming grace we say before our meals. "Time to pray," we prompt him, and he folds his hands, chiming in at ever-increasing volumes: "Great God and giver! of all! GOOD! Accept our praise and bless! our! FOO-O-OOD!"

So as we were cuddling in bed a couple of nights ago, I asked him, "Do you want to pray?"

"Okay!" he answered, turning to go nose to nose with me, eyes as big and green as a cat’s.

Extemporaneous prayer has never been my strong suit, so I fell back on a version of the nightly prayer my mother used to do with me. "Dear God, thank you for the nice day Bub had today at Sharon’s" (his day-care provider’s house).

"And nice day at home," he prompted.

"Help Bub to be a nice boy tomorrow," I went on (niceness being the major concept in my infantile prayers). "God bless Pie, God bless Daddy…"

"God bless Mama," Bub added, "God bless Sharon."

"And God bless Bub."

"God bless Bub."




Jenn said...


Loved the title of the post; so true how many times in a day that combination comes into play.

Bon said...

the bitter and the sweet and all the many ways in which we are thrilled and disappointed in the run of a day, run of a life.

me, i'm just bitter that you got to sleep til 7-something! drool. drool.

nomotherearth said...

See, this post is exactly why I'm bewildered by people who get down on bloggers (mommy ones especially) for posting the "minutiae" of our lives. I think it's fascinating. This is the loveliest pastoral of family life that I've read in long while. You have a way with words.

Mad Hatter said...

Miss M loves that book too! It was her favourite until we moved on to More, More, More Said the Baby.

Lovely glimpses into your day B&P.

Kyla said...

Oh, the prayer is just too sweet.

Gwen said...

I do much prefer your prayer to the "if I should die before I wake" version .....

And if it's any consolation, my perfectly normal seven year old often still has the same issues with finding things as Bub. As does my 4 year old.

Redneck Mommy said...


There is nothing wrong with caging children to capture some shut eye.

Nothing wrong, indeed.

mcewen said...

I'm with Gwen.

Jenifer said...

Thanks for the glimpse into the life of B&P (on a relxed) morning.

It is true I navigate a path all day, every day between bitter and sweet.

And my girls are still figuring out how to find things via verbal commands. "I said down" "No that is up" - if you were at my place you would hear that a lot.

Beck said...

My kids can't follow someone pointing AT ALL. I wonder if it's a learned skill? It seems like it should be innate, really.
What is this "well rested" thing you speak of?
My kids love, love to say grace. The Baby automatically grabs the hands of the people sitting next to her when she sits down to eat, which baffles some.

Susanne said...

What nomo said. And Gwen.

Robbin said...

Don't feel bad about the caging. I have been known to plunk Harry down in front of "Noggin" - a preschool TV station - and lay down on the couch so that I can get another hour of shuteye FOR MYSELF. I am appalled with myself, but too sleep-deprived to resist.

Lawyer Mama said...

I'm jealous that you got to sleep in and that you can actually confine your children to get more sleep! Mine just crawl out of the pack n play.

What a sweet, sweet prayer.

Christine said...

God bless that Bub. What a kid!

bubandpie said...

Redneck Mommy - Thanks, hon. I knew you'd be in my corner. :)

Gwen, Beck - It is enormously comforting, actually. Pointing and following a pointing gesture DO seem innate to Pie, but they are very conscious and awkward in Bub. My tendency is to assume that Pie's development is the norm, when that may not be the case at all.

LM - Bub could totally climb out if he really put his mind to it, but he seems to accept the playpen without protest, so long as his dad carries him down immediately, with no dilly-dallying about tucking him back into his own bed or letting him crawl in with us. Any sign of hesitation on our part is, of course, fatal.

jen said...

god bless all of us.

i often think in these terms, bitter and sweet, or more to my liking, blessing and a curse. joy and sorrow. i realize i could go on, but that you already get the point - that we can't have one without knowing the other.

Jenifer said...

To echo the sentiment, we still put a gate on Rosebud's doorway every night. NOT because she ever tried to get out...just in case. Now she can't got to sleep without it.

The pointing/verbal commands are the same at my might as well be speaking another language.

Jenifer said...

Just so your comment numbers are really high. I just asked both the girls to go get a specific item (that was not theirs) one from the basement and one from upstairs. Both were able to get the exact item I asked for...apparently it is only the items in plain sight that are invisible to them.


CG said...

What I would give to have Bubbie catch a couple hours more of sleep in the pack-n-play, what the secret?

I love the prayer, keep it up, there is immense power in prayer.

Bon said...

back to say that, god forgive me, i have tagged you for something, but it's blogrhet and thinky and kinda bran, for brain. a healthy meme.

nah, can't really sell myself either. but the invitation is nonetheless warm... :)

Omaha Mama said...

Oh - I enjoyed this. Immensely.

I love stories of the daily grind.

It's life, isn't it? The daily grind.

Luisa Perkins said...

The pointing thing. I've been there many times. The playpen thing = good. The TV thing--oh, yes, that is an oft experienced trauma for us.

The prayer thing is so lovely and sweet that it deserves a proper sentence. Good for you. It's a tradition that you will treasure more and more as the years go by.

bren j. said...

Exhibit C: THIS I can hardly wait for!