It was Labor Day weekend for us and we spent it in the traditional manner of our people: by going out to “The Farm” in the middle of the country and spending a couple of nights in a double wide trailer. Sam actually loves The Farm, talks about it all the time and came close to throwing a fit when we told her we’d have to leave. She demonstrated her new ability to jump from a diving platform in the lake and to open her mouth as wide as humanly possible when dunking her head under the murky, fish poop filled water.
Sam was also delighted when Geralyn offered to paint her toenails for the first time ever. Ger applied a single coat of candy apple red to Sam’s toes, then told her to sit really, really still for half an hour while it dried. It doesn’t take anywhere near that much time to dry, but we figured if we could get her to sit still for half an hour that would actually be really great. When other family members came in to visit, Sam would thrust her feet into the air and start shouting “SEE? SEE?” Only she didn’t flex her feet so that her toenails were showing, and most people were at best unimpressed and at worst totally confused over what was supposed to be so great about the dirty soles of Sam’s bare feet.
The introduction of body paint isn’t the only sign that Sam is getting older. The other night I had another one of those sudden shifts in perception about her, when she seemed to lurch from one age category to the next. I had just come home from work and was lying on the floor, talking to Sam. We weren’t playing, we were just talking. Sam was telling me all about the visit to a specialty toy train store down the road that she loves to go to, and I suddenly realized how relatively complex the discussion had become. Sam was comparing and contrasting this visit with prior visits, detailing what kinds of people were there, what kinds of toys were out, what she liked playing with, and what was missing between the two times. She wasn’t just saying that she liked to play with Cranky the Crane, but why she liked it (it loads stuff, apparently) and how she had demonstrated Cranky’s many functions to a smaller boy with brown hair who happened to be there. The whole exchange seemed very different from what I was used to. It seemed much more mature, much more sophisticated than her previous preference for incessant strings of declarative statements and demands. And it really hit me when Sam stopped, looked at me, and said “I like talking about things with you.”
And I figured it was all right. No matter what else happened from that point on in time, no matter what calamities may strike us, I’ll have always had that one little moment when she looked at me and said that. I mean, I hope to have other things, too, like maybe gigantic, overstuffed sacks with dollar signs on them or maybe the ability to ignite my enemies’ brains from the inside just by thinking about it. But even still, I’ll always have one out of the three. It’s a nice feeling, even if I didn’t get to choose.
Despite a brief cold earlier in the week, Mandy is also as happy as ever and doing great. While we were out at The Farm she got to visit with her cousin Claire, who is about the same age but shall we say much more petite than Mandy. At one point the two babies were down on a blanket, with Mandy sitting up and Claire testing out her new crawling skills. Apparently Claire was most comfortable traveling in a straight line, and when that line encountered Mandy the smaller baby tried to give her a shove to get her out of the way. This proved futile, as Mandy just sat there, immovable, and spread her arms as she looked down on her cousin as if to say “Sister, you can’t move me. That ain’t gonna happen.” Hilarity ensued, as did crying.