“Nina, Nina. Ooooh, yeah. Nina Nina, O-O-O-O-O, yeah. La la la.” Your sister sang all the way home from daycare; her feet kicking in time. Her eyebrows lift and she sings about her favorite person, Gina. That scowl that I feared would be her “always first” face, (the one that makes her look like mommy) seems to have melted into a soft contented and peaceful one. She seems happy. Gina spent a little time with her today at daycare. Liza has her own little school now (five days 8 to 4). She has skilled, educated and loving caregivers at Adrianna’s family child care home. Its one of several in Casa Pequena, a college children’s center FCCH network I started when I was director back in 1992. Its developed into a marvelous community of small business owners who care. I feel incredibly privileged to have such a great program available to the community and to us. I’m so confident while she’s there. It’s near Denny’s off Ocean Street and I worried at first about the numbers of homeless passing by this area near the river. Until today.
Today you and I took Liza to Adrianna’s then walked across the river footbridge (Thank you, Arnold) before taking you to the doctor for an infected eye. We strolled across while watching a couple of paddlers and two families of ducks. The babies enchanted us. Fuzzy little paddlers. I asked you which one would be you. You chose the one that was right behind mom. Funny I’d have chosen you as the one that swam off onto the island away from the rest and came splash-squawking back desperate for safety. This is sissy of course. You insisted. The habitat down there is clearly conducive to raising a family among the rushes and grasses of the shallow sandy bottomed river. One family were beautiful wood ducks or possibly ring-necked. It was a lovely walk and a much needed respite. The kind that makes me realize I have been too narrowly focused and too damn serious for too long. Look at this incredible world under our feet and at our doorstep.
Gina is going to see the children much less regularly now. Infrequently, I imagine. I expected it to be hard to say goodbye, to stop our arrangement, but was not expecting ” I would adopt Liza if I were employed and had health insurance.” She loves her. I didn’t know. Missed it. I saw it as a passionate, yet professional relationship. I recall my baby-desire when I was her age. The pull, pangs and slams. Life is so unfair. It just is, dammit. You and Liza are loving, wonderful and deserving children. Buddy, you and your sister are not available. You are still your mommy’s and daddy’s. Staying with Grandpa and me. And until we give mommy and daddy the year we promised for them to figure out how to be parents to you and sissy, there will be no change. You are here with us. And all of this stays as close to invisible to you as possible. We are so sorry Gina that you have a broken heart for a bit. You have been so important to us, all of us, during this time. You loved Liza, adored her, supported and cared for both children and taught me what there is to love about our Liza when I forgot. (She needed too much of me and for a few months we were at odds).
Now we’ll move on to a working mom kind of week; M-F daycare and weekends with your mom and dad. We’ll see how that works. Friday afternoons with dad and mom for dinner and bedtime at our house, Saturday and Sunday 9-2, Mom and Dad time. Daddy can pick up you kids on Fridays, take Liza to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Works for me. Now I have to get back those subsidized health care benefits for you two and maybe find help with your daycare. We are pretty stretched and I am not making any money these days! Should I go back to work? Hmm.
Your uncle is still in Brazil teaching English to Portuguese speaking children and teenagers. He may have a surf sales job through NHS in Santa Cruz at a town about an hour away from where he lives, in a place called Florianopolis. He is excited about it and has worked so hard to get a position like this one. Good luck, Uncle Alex! Wouldn’t it be fun to go see him? Maybe someday.
Okay buddy, that’s the news. Take care of that eye and it will heal in a day or two. It is some kind of an infection inside the socket. A long word that I don’t recall like a sty in the eye tissues rather than the lid. OUCH, the doctor says it may hurt. I think it probably does, but you don’t realize it. You have cried about everything; more crying than I have seen in two months. You want the pumpkin bread I gave your mom, want to pick a flower that you couldn’t, cried when you spilled your juice, droppeda sandwich and numerous infractions initiated by your sister. Maybe you are off balance this week as Liza gets a new daycare. She is getting a lot of attention. You may have feelings about that. Crying may be good for that eye. Warm compresses feel nice, you say, the tears rinse out globs of matter and your eye seems less swollen afterwards.
Let’s hold one another, our friends, family and loved ones tenderly. Ourselves, too.
Picture: You holding two week old, Daisy.