"I’m basically a starchitarian,” Ian explained to me during a meal at Sahuaro around thirteen years ago. Like most everything he says, I found it adorable and accurate. Yet, what I see as lovable in my bestie, I deplore in my slow-growing ten-year-old. Thom wishes to eat only bread, pasta, and apples and was ecstatic to find a vending machine for his carb habit at a nearby grocery. Press a button and out pops a baguette, ciabatta, or even a little pizza. The process was fun and cheap. Thom’s baguettes ranged from $1.99-$3.29 in Princeton, and today’s only set me back €,69.
Our treats in hand, the five of us ventured to the neighborhood spielplatz. At the pool last week in Princeton, a friend listed me all the faults of her daughter’s new daycare playground. It needed to be almost completely redone after failing safety inspections. I have a feeling that playgrounds here are judged on a different standard. A gigantic climbing apparatus that seemed to be built out of exercise resistance bands and a wooden structure with a long metal slide were the high points for the kids. Vinnie always gravitates toward activities most likely to break a limb, and she was in heaven.
I woke up this morning a little before seven--about the time I usually stir without the interference of alarms and children. It was 1 a.m. in New Jersey.
Errol grunted that he had slept in the kids’ room for a few hours.
He is now the firstresponder to night wakings. I turned in my badge when the twins started preschool.
Thom was wide-awake at 2 a.m.
Vinnie cried a lot.
“Oh, no. Are her worms back?”
“I didn’t see any. Their little bodies just don’t know what time it is.”
Oh, those little bodies. How familiar I am with those four little bodies.
Ten years ago when Thom was a baby, my relationship with the clock changed. Before babies, when I’d unexpectedly wake in the night, it was such a relief to see predawn numbers: “Only 3:32. I don’t have to get up for another four hours…”
Once the babies and their endless needs came, that all changed. Hearing a child, glancing at the clock, and seeing a somewhat normal waking time, became a delight.
I purposefully took early morning jobs--first at a before-school program and then at a pool--to escape the children’s daybreak needs. It didn’t really make sense. The money was next to nothing and the loss of sleep a certainty, but playing tic-tac-toe with a first-grader at 6:45 beat the possibility of dealing with one of my children at 6.45 after tending them all night.
A few days before we left New Jersey, Errol told me, “It’s nice that you’ve had bad sleep for so long your body has no expectation of good sleep.”
I do what I can.
Our Freiburg flat is beautiful. Much too beautiful for my team, I’m afraid. Each room has huge Oriental rugs, paintings on the walls, and grown-up furniture--not anything that could be found next to a Butler dumpster.
Our bedroom is particularly lovely but currently taken over with open suitcases and vacuum-packed bags of clothes.
Errol asked, “What’s your plan for today?”
I threw off the covers.
“To put some pants on.”