little sarah Big World

Category: Quality Time

Kane (and Able)

 

little boats

This is a story about my nephew, Kane, who just turned 7 years old. About the things we have in common, and the ways that he helps me be good.

*      *       *

We rarely just say Kane, but rather Kane-o, and he is an odd bird, one of my favorites. Didn’t really talk until 3 or 4, won’t eat anything that’s not a cereal bar without extreme goading. Getting him to eat a single bite of apple required intense negotiations, and even then he chews it the exact way you or I would if forced to eat a spoonful of diarrhea, with his hand in front of his mouth to prevent himself from spitting it out. Still, he’s a sport about it, dutifully eating his fruit and veg. He wants to be a doctor someday.

Kane is incredibly affectionate and sweet, quickly befriending anyone who shows him kindness or attention. “I love you, Auntie Sarah. You’re my best friend,” because I sit and read with him on the couch. Or, “I’m sitting with my best friend Auntie Sarah,” announced to the room, after I offer him snuggles because Ollie punched him in the chest. This is not specific to me–anyone can quickly become his best friend, and yet that somehow doesn’t make it any less sweet or sincere.

Kane likes to have Harry Potter read to him, though–as Sam pointed out–he doesn’t really seem to follow the story at all. All he’s concerned about is that you’re moving forward in pages, which he keeps Rainman-like track of in his head. You literally never need a bookmark, since Kane always remembers what page you were on last, even after hours or days.

Sometimes while reading I’ll ask him what words mean, to try and keep his focus:

       Sarah – “ ‘Harry began to feel ill’–what does ill mean?”

       Kane – “Uhm…Sebastian? What does ill mean?”

       Sebastian – “Uh…it, like, means, like, sick, or whatever.” (Teenagers!)

       Kane (to me) – “It means like sick.”

He does this with every word, while Bastian and I smile. I think secretly Bastian is pleased to be considered an authority, especially in matters concerning Harry Potter.

Kane-o is 6 but relates most with Ollie, who’s 4 (as opposed to Rosie or Isaac, who are 8). They play together well, mostly, but tattle on each other nonstop, often over non-issues (“Kane-o’s reading a book!” / “Ollie’s not eating his carrots!”), and we are all so over it and have said “Use your words to talk it out” and “You just worry about your own self” more times than I can count. Sometimes they hit each other, though, and then we do Time Out.

*      *       *

This day what happens is that they climb all over the couch, smushing it up, which unnerves me. Getting ready to go to a museum, I ask that the boys help fix the pillows (of which there are SO MANY, Mom); Kane-o declines, without comment. Ollie helps, trying to motivate Kane (“Kane-o! It’s okay! We’re helping!”). But Kane throws a pillow–attitude–which accidentally grazes Ollie, and is obviously enough to end the world.

So we get a timeout, for resisting clean-up, and then throwing, and that’s when Kane-o REALLY blows: “God dammit mother fucker stupid shithead!”  with a hand gesture that’s like the “Rock On!” symbol, or like SpiderMan shooting webs. But from Kane, we know it means “Fuck you!” And so timeout is extended, and then extended again, after he lets loose another impressive string of swears, instead of apologizing to Ollie. And on and on, for maybe 5 minutes.

I stay patient, calm, clear with my explanations of what was happening and why. Though rarely and barely able to stem the flow of my own overwhelming emotions, I can be good in a crisis. I can be solid while somebody else crumbles, especially if it’s a child.

By the end, Ollie is standing next to the Time Out spot, where I’ve called him over, while Kane-o lays on the floor, on his back, stiff, eyes terrified, mouth taut, breath rapid, barely able to eke out an “I’m. Sorry. For. Throwing. A. Pillow.”

“That’s okay,” chirps Ollie, already off on his merry way. I pull Kane-o up to standing and he continues the motion, falling forward into my arms and already shaking with sobs. “Do you need to be held?” He nods yes, I pick him up, easily, as he’s bird-boned.

While he cries, I walk around, swaying gently, talking to him, trying to soothe. “It’s scary to feel so out of control isn’t it?” He nods, and I think of all the times I’ve come back from the brink: shaken, shamed, and uncertain. A few weeks ago I threw beet greens on the floor, so unable to contain my hurt and frustration, yelling at my Moms and then crying, inconsolable, for hours.   

“I know I don’t like when I feel like that.” And then, for both our sakes, “I think everyone feels like that, sometimes.” He tightens his arms around my shoulders.

*      *       *

On the road, in Colorado, I was hit by a wave of anxiety and depression so complete that I slept for days on end, waking to the disappointment of continued consciousness and praying for sleep to return, rolling me in its thick, merciful, obscuring blanket. Cried hours into the bedsheets, embryo-shaped, contracting around a center of pain and pity, meditations on all my own awfulness.

Outside, I could hear sounds of merriment, signs of life, people dancing and singing, teasing children, drinking whiskey, making and eating Pho, together. I felt no jealousy or resentment. Just the plain knowledge that they existed so far beyond my realm, and sadness at that thought.

I could hear that people were, but the best I could do was to seem, to appear, and I was too tired even for that.

How long could I lie hidden, without raising suspicion? My sickness showing through every crack, and I burned with the shame of people’s curiosity and concern, unable to even make eye contact. Unsure of my place in the conversation, my point of re-entry to the human race.

I think the hardest thing, sometimes, is to be forgiven, which is to say: to forgive yourself.

*      *       *

“Nobody’s mad at you, Kane-o.”

“They’re not?” more sniffles, optimistic disbelief. The best I have to offer him right now is love, and an open palm. An invitation.

“Of course not, sweetie,” I say, swaying. “We just don’t like it when you feel so out of control. We want you to be calm and happy. We want you to be here with us.”

“Nobody’s mad at me?” head heavy on my shoulder.

“Nobody’s mad, I promise.” Tighter arms, like a hug; I squeeze back. “You ready to be put back down now?” No, he shakes his head, not yet.

But then in a little bit he was.

beams

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Simplify

(w/ Chad)

And so we turn towards simplicity. Towards sanity and good health, and that means early morning runs and healthy, home-cooked meals, fewer vices and better sleep.

Our first meal cooked together!

It means long walks and longer talks, checking in every morning, and after work, and before bed. It means facing our problems (for me: job stress and anxiety) head-on, rationally, and knowing the difference between a worthy challenge and a waste of time.

momiji

Most of all, a turn towards simplicity means a turn towards each other, and towards what really matters in life–our well-being, our friends and family, our passions and interests, and our sense of wonder, inspiration, creativity and drive.

And yesterday it meant epic shopping: new wardrobes for new jobs, plus bags of books to feed our hungry minds. It meant a day trip to Tokyo, a shopping field trip, with burgers and fries and iced coffee and frequent pauses to observe/avoid the madness, plus a Sunday stroll through the park, and big plans for the future.

*       *       *

It feels good to follow our own good advice.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Chad and Sarah = Jack and Rose

Sometimes I can’t go straight from things being broken to things being fixed, because I need to make a rest-stop in a place where things are okay. Like a waiting period between identifying the problem and tackling it.

I remember a camping trip, age 19, summer after freshman year of college. I had taken ecstasy for the first time (heavily cut with speed) and spent a wild night talking and emoting at full blast with my best-friend and roommate in the front seats of my boyfriend’s parent’s Subaru. Despite what I’d heard about gnarly emotional come-downs, the next morning I mostly felt tired and newly opened, or pleasantly vulnerable. I got dropped off back at my Mom’s place, where my older sisters were bustling about, cooking and gossiping with Mom, taking care of baby Bashy. The air seemed abuzz with a sort of hectic femininity, with childcare and recipes and house work and strong female bonds. I felt so susceptible to all that womanly grace, and also very overwhelmed.

Because…how could I ever express to my mother and sisters what they meant to me, and how much I admired and needed them? How could I gracefully make the transition from sullen, solitary teenage angst to warm, giving, jovial womanhood? Most importantly, how could I share this new-found love and appreciation without revealing the fact that I’d taken illegal, mind-altering substances the night before?

Ha! Then I remembered I didn’t have to do it all at once. That I didn’t need to make any grand proclamations or sudden life-altering turns to affect the change I wished to see in my life. I could do it little by little. I could start by just being there, spending quality time with my beloved female family. So I sat down on the bed where Natalie was changing Bashie’s diaper, and we talked.

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A Little (More) Walt for Your Wednesday

 

(from Whitman’s “Song of Myself”)

Leaves of Black and White Grass

 

Quiet mornings spent reading are what I need right now. Maybe some tea, and a good hug. The world around me is full of possibilities, and beauty, and I am trying to take it all in, to bloom where I’m planted, no matter how many times I uproot myself.

not dew, but rain

And in some ways, things are looking up. But in other ways, it’s not so clear. Working with special needs kids is something I never thought I’d do, or be good at, but here I am, and the kids love me, and already they’ve made such an impression on me.

But there are other things to take into consideration, other jobs, and writing, and relationships, and it can (and does) all feel a bit overwhelming at times.

Sometimes more than a bit. Sometimes it seems like an insurmountable problem.

But, in the end, I know that I must figure it out for myself. And that I can. (I think).

Climb that hill, one step at a time

snapping photos on my phone like an iPro

 

Quality Time is Running Out

~OR~

Sister Sleepover, Round 2

@ Café on 1st

I realized recently how little time I have left–less than 5 weeks as I write this. The cold, the inversion, and the exciting/comforting/strange feeling of being newly married to my favorite person in the world had caused an intense bout of nesting.

Which is fine, except that in less than 5 weeks I’ll be able to see Chad every day, while I have to make due with letters, emails, phone calls and skype for all my other “other halves.” My dear, sweet friends and family. They are a rad bunch, and I am committed to hanging out with them in earnest, while there’s still time.

(photo credit: Miss Rose)

Last weekend I had a sister sleepover with Rosie, drinking and dancing with Griggs and the Stephanies, and a chakra workshop (it’s true, it’s all true) with Nicole.

inspiration credit: Rosie

While busy social whirlwind weekends like that used to overwhelm me, now it seems like it’s not enough. I’ve even made a To-Friendship list, just to ensure that I get to spend individual quality time with my greatest loves.

Because list-making–like running, or baking, or Dance Party of One–is a coping mechanism. And I am coping with the fact that I will miss my friends more than I could ever possible put into words, let alone a bulleted checklist.

But it’s a start.

…and an Easy Morning

focus on the recipe card

Simple. Kitchen. Baking. Tea. Sunlight. To-Do lists. Writing. A studio apartment. Happy husband. Blue bed. Stacks of books.

focusing on the bowl

It may not be perfect, but it’s mine, and I like it. It fits me well.

I think I’ve heard them call this contentment.

The Best Day of My Life

~OR~

The Facts:

I bought my dress second-hand, paid for it in cash. $32.61. I knew as soon as I tried it on that it was the dress I would get married in. A winter wedding dress.

Literally everything was borrowed or second-hand, except my pantyhose. Which tore and ran before the ceremony.

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comin for ya baby snakes

Oh, man. Oh, Friends. Christmas happened. So did New Year’s. And before that, a wedding. And before that, a road trip, and before that finding out about moving to Japan.

Before that it was Thanksgiving, so basically what I’m saying is that things have been a nutso landslide of friendship, family and festivities. Also love. Also the freezing, freezing cold of a Salt Lake City winter, tempered–if only for a brief respite–by 10 days of car ownership.

What I am saying is that we are now one week into the New Year, and I am feeling the opposite of resolved. Burnt out, yes. Behind on my accomplishments?  Absolutely. But you’ve got to start somewhere, so here’s a catch-up. More words (and more pictures) to follow.

Brandi's early-20's apartment is nicer than any place I've ever lived

 

sprinkles in the sink = sinkles

 

(from coworkers!)

 

a few of literally dozens

 

Australians and Americans, together, musically

The name of the game now is “getting back on track.”

No Joke

~OR~

Lately

I will never again acheive this level of baked elegance

Baking cookies. ‘Tis the season, after all, and there are friends to catch up with, no matter how packed our schedules.

Twins n Lights

Catching the light. Twins will be twins, after all, and there are whirlwind weekends to be had, no matter how big and busy the weeks to come.

Ben Lomond hotel, Ogden, UT

Getting hitched. Impulsive as ever, after all, and there are perfect memories to be made, no matter if they’re born of necessity.

*       *       *

But more on all of that later, Friends. For now: Happy Holidays.

And yes, it’s true. It’s all true.

Then & Now

~OR~

I once was lost, but now am found

Late August: cold, grey and damp

Mid-December: warm, sunny and bright

So some people will say that 4 months is too soon. But look what a difference it makes. Look how far we’ve come. The sky has opened up, and with it our hearts and minds. The whole world has changed, for us, and because of us, and because of everything we’ve been through and everything we’ve promised to go through, together.

Four months ago I was an anxious girl in a strange place, shivering and conflicted.

Now I am somebody who makes Big Decisions and then sticks to them, who greets uncertainty with a smile and a straight back.

We literally could not have more fun in this moment, so don't even ask

Somebody who is scared, yes, but nevertheless I ask “How can we have more fun?”

And if the answer is huge, and daunting, like a mountain rising up through the cold winter air, all sharp white peaks and electric blue sky…then I say “Okay?”

And then we laugh. We talk. We share the sunshine, and we hold hands and jump.