Now that winter is coming, the Little House books are easier for me and the girls to identify with. We can hear the wind roaring around our little house on Raven Street and snow is just around the corner, soon-to-be drifting at our front door. There are no wild panther screams, however. No trips to the barn to milk the cows and feed the horses. We’re feeling rather lucky, lying around on our recliner couch, reading about girls in faraway days in not-so-faraway prairies. Oldest and Middle are recovering from strep throat, and the Tiny and I are holding strong against bacterial infection and fevers. But the Tiny is fussy and congested and everyone wants to be petted and held and snuggled more than usual, including me. In the midst of the snuggling, I’m still trying to get work emails sent, plan budgets and sort through laundry and grocery lists.
In addition to reading the Little House books, we’ve also been watching the TV episodes where the bright, wholesome face of Michael-Landon-as-“Pa” beams the kind of sincerity that makes me squirm uncomfortably. But, between you and me, the husband and I will simultaneously giggle and shed a few tears over the tops of the girls’ heads when Michael Landon is on.
Once, when Laura was chastized by “Ma” for inappropriate behavior, she nodded and chortled brightly, “Well, I reckon you know best, Ma.” I reckon that those words will never be uttered in our house. (Do real seven year olds possess such profound wisdom?) But, now, I guess there are a few truths about the world that the girls have grasped, and Oldest’s questions this week suggested as much. For instance, when I informed the husband about the amount of “drugs” (aka Amoxycillin) needed for her dose, Oldest (overhearing) fired out: “Street drugs or regular drugs?”
And then, when I asked to clarify a statement Oldest made and then paused, taking in her meaning, she felt sure my silence indicated amusement. “Are you going to put that on Facebook?” she wondered aloud.
Indeed, no, I was not scheming to document her words in my Facebook status (although I ususally am). I did write on Facebook in the aftermath of getting lunch warmed up, children fed, and the Tiny soothed later in the day. During all that commotion, my very introverted self had been very locked up in her own head, sifting through the contents of emails, phone calls, and schedules. The Tiny had been crying, so unhappily sitting in her infant seat, so forlorn, that I went in search of something to soothe her. And a few minutes later, after she was suitably soothed, I updated my status in the third person:
“[Heather Truhlar Weber] realized she was trying to juggle too many things today when she found herself trying to insert Tiny's pacifier into the 6-year-old's mouth.”
It was true. Tiny was crying and Middle was chewing on cornbread at the kitchen table when their mother wriggled a rubber Nuk against Middle’s lips and waited for her to part them. Middle looked up at her mother with a look of utter anthropologic curiosity, perhaps surmising the act an unseen-before ritual of mothering. But no, Middle was certain that most reasonable mothers would never have confused the Tiny with the Middle. This was a was a moment to reckon that Middle--not Ma--knew best. And you know, I think there may be a lot more of them.