I do believe you have a point, dear.

Doctor Dash can be a very wise man. There have been times in our marriage when he noticed things about the kids or put things into words in a way that made me stop, blink, and sheepishly acknowledge the lightbulb suddenly swinging above my head. I am drowning in the kids. I can’t see the forest for the trees, but he, with his hours away, sometimes brings a new perspective that is, frankly, right on.

lou stashExample: when Supergirl was about a year and a half old, she was a total wild child. She was a climber and a runner and her mission in life seemed to be to find the highest and most precarious perch from which to exhibit herself to the world. She always had a naughty smile on her face as she watched me staggering around below, trying to talk her down, ready to catch her if she ever slipped (she never did). She was (and is) a coordinated and strong little monkey with no fear of heights or speed. She was (and is) a girl in constant motion. We found ourselves gasping and clutching our chests, shaking our heads in exasperation, telling everyone who would listen what a “handful” she was. Until Dash wisely noted that if she was a boy, we would think nothing of her level of activity and risk taking, and that maybe we just needed to stop talking about it. Simply put, just because she’s a girl, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the right to careen through life at top speeds. Of course. Of COURSE! We didn’t want to change her, wouldn’t be able to even if we tried, so what was the point of belaboring the point? No point. Right. So we stopped making such a big deal about her hair raising antics, learned to trust her as much as she trusted herself, and have come to quite enjoy having that kind of kid in our brood.

caterpillarAs I’ve mentioned before, we have been trying to give Saint James and Supergirl some freedom to roam our neighborhood. We want them off the couch and into the brush.¬†We hope that by giving them a little space, they’ll gain a sense of confidence in themselves, a healthy sense of safety in their surroundings, and maybe some smarts along the way. Earlier this summer, we let them walk two blocks to Sweet Jessamine and Ivory Tickler’s house to turn on their sprinklers while they were on vacation: a chore adventure hybrid – genius. Doctor Dash made the observation that the two of them seem to get along the best when they get to go out alone on their little excursions. Normally, Saint James and Supergirl are notorious, insufferable bickerers, making the Costanzas look like swooning love birds. They have turned quarreling into an art form, refusing to agree on anything, dividing the universe of ideas in half and planting themselves firmly on either side of the line. They argue, they parse, they quote and misquote, they poke holes in reasoning, they unveil inconsistencies, they split hairs, they tit for tat, they begrudge, they demean, they scoff, they tease, they bully, they quibble, they scrap, they wrangle, they aha, they I told you so. In short, they fight.¬†Constantly. Except, it seems, when they go off on an adventure. Yes indeed Doctor Dash, I do believe you are right! What an interesting bi-product of our little freedom experiment!

They don’t exactly walk off hand in hand, but they do go side by side and it’s as if the expanse of the world unfolding in front of their feet makes them feel less chafed by each other. Simply turning the focus away from the other to a point over the hill or down the creek allows them to coexist in peace, at least for a short time. Or maybe, when they are walking alone, they feel a bit of us against the world. They always come back happy, having seen one dead animal or another, having caught some insect or another, or, most recently, having had a relaxing little visit with neighbors. Yesterday Supergirl asked if she could walk to Red Vogue’s and Salt and Pepper Polymath’s house with Saint James, under the pretense of showing them the tie dye shirts they had made at camp. They came back about an hour later, their smiles ringed with the telltale mark of blue Gatorade. I find it amusing that they walked over to our dear neighbors’ house, accepted a little refreshment, chatted them up, (hopefully) didn’t fight with each other, (hopefully) said thank you and good bye. How civilized of them. And all NOT under my watch. It’s actually a small miracle. And another interesting bi-product of our freedom experiment.

Thank you Red Vogue and SPP, for being part of a little world that allows them to feel big. And thank you Dash for discovering one small way to curb the bickering. Their mucky water shoes are parked at the front door and if you see them touching dead things in the creek, just know that . . . I’m kind of, totally OK with that . . . as long as they’re not fighting.

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