Abe just finished reading Moby Dick (in all its whaling glory). He liked it quite a bit (though the amount of time it took him to finish was complicated by an inability to read more than 15 minutes at a stretch without falling asleep). My own favorite part in the book (which, as it happened, was the only part he read to me) was when one sailor described someone (perhaps Captain Ahab himself?) as a good man, but not a pious kind of good man, rather, a “swearing” kind of good man.
I asked Abe the ending. Shall I tell you? I will (and rather abruptly): they all die. (Well, except for Ishmael [as in “Call me Ismael”]. After all, someone had to survive the ship and all the little whaling boats mashed to bits by Moby Dick, and everyone cast to sea; or how could the story be told? [Or, at least, how could it be told, as it is, from the point of Ishmael?]) And why, you’re certainly wondering (at least I was) did Captain Ahab set his heart so on hunting Moby Dick? Couldn’t he have just let him go? And his men all survive? But no. He couldn’t. “He had a fiery passion for Moby Dick. He was obsessed.” Abe tells me. (Why, he fashioned a special harpoon just for Moby Dick -- which he cooled in blood rather than water. [Yeek.]) I guess Moby bit off Ahab’s leg. That struck me as rather a difficult thing for a whale to do. If he did anything at all, wouldn’t he just . . . chomp the whole of you? But, Abe dismissed those ponderings: I simply didn’t understand the jaw of a sperm whale – particularly the bent [crooked?] sperm-whale jaw of Moby Dick.
Anders’ third loose tooth seems to be a source of utter misery to the boy. When he remembers it, he wanders about the house crying and piteously wailing (to no one in particular), “Why do I have to be the only one with a loose tooth?” But life hasn’t been all unfairness and hardship. He recently spent part of the birthday money from his grandma on a humongous, and shockingly soft, plush fox. As bedtime drew near, upon the first night of Foxy’s arrival in our house, I said to Anders, “Anders, you should be excited to go to bed because you get to sleep with the softest, coziest, cushiest thing!”
Summer, overhearing, perked up. Her eyebrows raised in surprise and she exclaimed, “He gets to sleep with ME?”
When we all began laughing she asked, in some confusion and perhaps a little defensiveness, “Well who IS the softest, coziest, cushiest thing?”
If not her then, well, who indeed?
Speaking of Summer: the dear little soul has been stuttering and stammering a fair amount as she speaks lately. It isn’t worrisome. Abe went through a similar stage at her age. But it does make me feel extra tender feelings for the little sprite. She says such big things, “I expect that . . .” and so forth. I sometimes think that with the host of babies that followed on her heels (two younger than her in the house before she was half way through her second year) she just grew up a bit on the quick end. Her little brain and mind seem to have matured faster than her tiny three-year-old body is ready to keep up with.
Hansie boy has finally taken to real live official crawling, but his stage between dragging himself about on his belly and true crawling was perhaps the best mobile stage I have ever witnessed among any of our children. He would get up on his knees, tummy off the ground, . . . but then, rather than push up on his hands, he would use his forearms (somewhat folded in front of him and rolling one over the other as he went). It resulted in the greatest shuffle motion of his whole body as he crawled, and he could never do it at all without one or the other of us calling gleefully for everyone else to look.
But Hans isn’t the only one whose movements are joyful to watch. Mette’s run. There is little better entertainment. It’s almost as if she’s running in place – bobbing bobbing up and down, up and down, and side to side; but then, somehow, forward motion is added in so that, though she is propelled forward, the greater portion of her energy still seems to be used in the vertical aspect rather than the horizontal. When we drop the neighbor kids off after school, she often insists on getting out at their house and running the two-house distance to our own home. Driving slowly behind her as she bobs up and down and forward along the sidewalk towards our house is a highlight of my day.
As was the case for Abe, Daisy is compelled to get most of her 40-hour-learner’s-permit driving in . . . in our giant van. There is just not a lot of time to head off driving with just her (and the smaller car that she shares with Abe [Mike’s cousin Devin’s old Honda that he GIFTED them!]), but there is a good deal of time spent going places with loads of children in tow . . . and it seems a shame to waste those opportunities. She’s been handling it quite impressively though.
Also, she’s gone and gotten herself a little job. Every Monday she spends several hours at her piano teacher’s house helping instruct in theory, etc. for these little group lessons her teacher offers.
Penny wrote the dearest thing in the little folder of stuff she was to present to me at our recent parent-teacher-conference. (I have been looking and looking for it but not finding what became of it.) The teacher had asked her to write an answer to: “Why do you come to school?”. She wrote about learning and wanting to be an author and illustrator some day. But then she wrote about wanting to make other people feel special and important as well. She ended with, “I don’t just come to school to learn, I also come to love.” Is that not the dearest thing? Both her teacher and I were quite touched. And of course that is exactly what I hope. There is so much negative out there – and sending my little ones out into it each day is a bit overwhelming. But if they can see themselves as sources of light – sent to combat the dark, and share love and goodness – well, there’s little more that I could wish for.
Speaking of parent-teacher-conference: I LOVE Jesse’s teacher. I almost started to cry at his conference. She’s from India. Oddly enough, we were neighbors with her years ago. Her son mowed our lawn. Her daughter babysat our first three kids. And I served in our church’s primary organization with her. But I don’t know that I appreciated or even recognized her skills as a teacher when we moved back to UT and discovered she taught 3rd grade at the elementary our kids attended and Abe and Goldie both had her. It was clear she had high expectations of the kids, and it was fun to see her occasionally, but I didn’t think much about it until Jesse got her and I wondered how he would do with her personality – how he’d respond to her strict nature. In general I have been unsure if public school is the best fit for the way Jesse loves to learn and have considered and still consider other options for my boy. But visiting with the two of them was the happiest thing. I can hardly explain how she does it. But she utterly demands his best and challenges him . . . all the while making him feel AMAZING. I just came away from there feeling nothing but overwhelming gratitude and love for her – I’m almost crying again with thankfulness. She LIKES him and pushes him and demands and encourages. Every day he tells me he loves school. I love her. I don’t know if you can love anyone more than when they are good to your own kids.
Goldie made the NAL team at her school (National Academic League). They get to play against other schools – it’s all buzzers and questions and excitement. As with anything they involve themselves in, it takes them away from home far too long each day, but it only lasts until Thanksgiving, and she loves it. And also . . . she gets a shirt that spells out GeNiUS using symbols from the periodic table of the elements. So how could we not let her have that opportunity? We couldn’t. Surely we couldn’t. (For a minute I thought the symbol Ge was for geranium – the flower – rather than germanium the element. Clearly no NAL team for me.)