At around 4pm things are usually pretty chaotic, and come 5pm, I’m ready to strap at least one tornado into her high chair. I make Noella’s ‘pb on tortilla’ (recipe copyrighted by yours truly), get her a bowl of applesauce (she’s still a big fan of that stuff), I set it on her tray, ready to run around and tidy up as much as I can while she’s contained in one place, and distracted as anyone is with food before them. I’m running around, tossing books back into the basket, putting the sour cream from lunch back into the fridge, and making Shilo’s bottle. In the blur of movement Noella asks, “Sit down, mama?” She loves it when I sit with her while she eats. The question always makes me a little sad. Even though this is prime time tidy time (I’m sorry but I think I just named your next #1 album), it’s also prime time you’re only this age for today. Yesterday you were younger, and tomorrow you will be older. And somehow, wiser. And your hands will be less baby and your feet will be bigger. Sob. So I pull up a chair, toss the sponge across the room and into the sink, and I stare right at her and smile as big as I can. She loves the attention. I ask, “So, how was your day?” She smiles, taking an insanely large bite of applesauce for such a small person with a little mouth. I ask, “What did you do today?” I pull my chair right in front of her high chair, her tray is the only thing blocking me from being any closer. She rolls her eyes and smiles at the sudden attention. She tells me about her day in choppy sentences. “Daddy. (We went to see him at work.) Puppy. (A customer had one with them in the store, just a head sticking out of her purse. It was a hit.) Cookie. (Our neighbor brought some by.)” I love talking to her like she’s 24. “So, why do you think that lady had a puppy in her purse? What do you think she named it?” And she rambles on about this and that, puppy this, puppy that.
One of the best memories I have of my grandparents (Ben and Joan) and one of the ways they made me feel loved was to have me over by myself (as the oldest of five, a night away was heaven on earth) and just hang out with me. They’d slide me a bowl of ice cream and just listen to whatever 10-year-old Jenn had to say. So I think of that, whenever Noella asks me to sit. I think of my grandparents, I think of how much it still means to me that they took the time to talk to me and listen to me, and I think of Noella being one day older tomorrow. We sit and chat while she shovels in the applesauce. And then, to make the night extra special, and since sister’s already in bed, and because Noella loves to be outside, we strap on her shoes (even though she’s already in her dino pjs), and we run around the driveway before she goes to bed. Maybe she’ll talk about that tomorrow while she eats her dinner and I sit and listen.