Category Archives: Houston

Double take

It’s pretty amazing how quickly my moods change, even to me.  I can’t imagine how it must be to live with me.  I mean, I AM a Gemini, so it’s not suprising.  In fact, all three of us in the house are Gemini.  Oooooh.  That explains a lot.

But I digress.

Hubs has been gone for over a week now for work, and my Lovely Sister-In-Law and Mother-In-Law were throwing a bridal shower on Sunday.  So, MIL offers to take Homeslice Saturday night so I can finish cleaning up.  Don’t get me wrong, I DID clean up.  A little bit.  But I also made plans to go out.  I was actually pretty excited about my particular plans that evening, so when they got cancelled, I was understandably upset.  I had a back up plan, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting.  Anyway, I ended up at a friend’s house, drinking keg beer and playing drinking games until way too late.

It wasn’t until the drive home that it hit me.  The reason I was so upset about my original plans being cancelled is that I don’t get too many nights like that out anymore.  If Friday night sucks, I can’t just try again Saturday night.  My life has changed so much and, driving home, I didn’t like it.  It wasn’t fair that Hubs was out of town and I had to take care of Homeslice by myself.  It wasn’t fair that I couldn’t go to a bar and drink and get hit on and flirt and stay out late anymore.  It wasn’t fair that I had a kid way before I was ready, and now I don’t have a job, my body will never be the same, and my expectations are through the roof.

I’m not going to lie, I was kind of a mess.  I cried the whole way home for what could have been – I cried because my plans were cancelled; I cried because I made those plans in the first place; I cried because the next day I had to get up and clean up and be the suburban housewife that I’ve been trying to avoid since moving here.  I cried because I feel like I’m too young to have a 2 year old, and I’m younger than all the other moms in my Mops group, but I’m too old to go out to bars or stay up late.  I cried because this wasn’t the life I imagined I would have, but I cried because I wasn’t sure I KNEW what life I was supposed to have.

So.  I cried, I took a shower, and I went to bed.

Sunday morning, I got up, cleaned up and hosted a kick-ass bridal shower.  I remember standing at the sink, cleaning a pan, calling out orders to my Lovely Sister-In-Law and Mother-In-Law, thinking “I’m really good at this.”  I overheard people commenting on the invites that I made myself, and the pictures that I took, and the house that I decorated.  I overheard a friend of mine praising my chili, and my Mother-In-Law bragging to her friends about how I taught myself to sew.  I was told over and over again that I should throw parties like this for a living, and how funny I am, and how glad they were to meet me.

And I was in my element.  I liked hearing that people enjoyed my cooking.  I liked showing off my photographs, and handmade pillows.  I still felt like I was too young to be “entertaining,” but I had a good time.

So I don’t know where I fit.  There are days when I’m so happy to be doing exactly what I’m doing; to be moulding a young life, to be cooking and creating.  I know I’m very lucky that I get to stay home with Homeslice, and I know that these years will go by way too fast so I should treasure them.  But there are times where I feel restless.  I feel like I’m not doing what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing – but I don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to be doing.

So, I’ll get through this weekend.  Then I’ll get through next week.  And I’ll keep trying to find that thing that makes me feel whole.  Maybe that’s the point.  Maybe I’ll never find it, but at least I can say that I tried.  At least I can say that someone likes my chili.

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Oh that’s right.

Claire loves to dance.  I’m not just talking about jumping up and down, or spining in circles like most normal two year olds. Nope.  Homegirl can plié with the best of them.  She turns on relevé with her arms above her head.  And she loves (and I mean LOVES) to arabesque.  There was an episode of Little Ensteins in which June was doing a “Sleepy Dance” to make some Nesting Doll Soldier fall asleep…or something.  Anyway, she sings the moves she’s doing: “Rocking sidetoside.” Saute UP and down.  Arrrr….a….besque.  Arrr….a….besque.  Now Claire walks around the house singing, “ArrrrABesque! ArrrABesque.”

Of course it sounds more like “Arrrr a Becs” but whateves.

Where was I?  Oh yes, dancing.  Since homeslice dances to EVERYTHING, I thought it might be a good time to try to teach her how to point her toe.

We were lying on the couch last night before bed, and I was showing her how to straighten her leg and point her toe.

“See, kid.  Feel how tight my thigh muscle is.  And see my pointed toe?  Good!  Good job.  Now try the other one.  Good job!  Yes, I feel your muscle.  Good.  Next we’ll learn about turn-out.  See how my leg is turned?  You want to turn you leg – from the hip- out.  And of course point your toe.  See Mommy?  See how Mommy’s leg is turned-out?”

I should have known she was a little too young to learn turn-out.  Instead of practicing her point and turn-out, she looked at me for a long time.

The she said, “I have two elbows.”

Oh that’s right.  I forgot you’re two.

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On doing something

When we moved back to Austin, Claire was 3 months old and I was staying home with her.  I didn’t mind it so much; she didn’t DO anything and I got to just sit around a lot.

But, a week or so after we moved back, JR started travelling.  He was gone 9 weeks in a row.  Not 9 weeks total, but he’d be gone 3 days here, then 4 days there.  I don’t remember the days being all that bad, but the nights were hard.  I wasn’t hanging out with the people I used to hang out with because I had a kid. I couldn’t just go out if I wanted to; I stayed home a lot.

JR’s friends really stepped up.  A few times a week, usually when JR was gone, one or two of the boys would come over.  We’d drink beers and talk.  It was those nights that kept me from going crazy that first 9 weeks.  I don’t know if you know this, but a 3 month old doesn’t have the best conversational skills.  I’d ask Claire what she thought about the new movie that was out and the best answer I got was a blank stare.  Sometimes she’d drool if she really enjoyed the conversation.

With our friends, I could have a conversation with someone who didn’t grunt when they were pooping.  Or maybe they did, but being gentlemen they kept that from me.  We didn’t talk about anything life changing; there wasn’t discussions about politics, or Kant, or the state of affairs of Cuba.  But it was important to us.  One of the guys was going through a divorce.  He’s one of the most introspective people I’ve ever met, and it hurt me to see him as withdrawn as he was.  Talking in our garage, over cheap beer, we worked out a lot of things.  I didn’t directly benefit from any of them, and I don’t talk to him any more, but for that moment in time we really TALKED.

Soon, JR would stop travelling and start hanging out in the garage and the conversation would turn to less intrusive topics.  Then I went back to work and stopped hanging out there altogether.

I was reminded of those late nights tonight.  A friend of ours is leaving next Wednesday for New York.  A few weeks ago he went to a 10 day acting workshop and was awarded a partial scholarship to an acting school.  He tells me that he always liked to perform, but never thought he would act.  Then one day, he just…decided to try it out.  And he was hooked.

He’s 27.  He’s been to college, he’s had a full-time job.  And now he’s going to New York to persue a dream that he’s had since he was a kid, even if he didn’t realize it.  I’m so envious.

Not about moving to New York, although I would love to live in a city like that.  And not about the acting part, although I would like to act.  I’m envious of him because he is doing what he wants to do.  It’s not going to be easy, he’s not that naive, but he’s decided that this is what he loves and what he wants.  And he’s working toward a goal.

We’ve lived in Houston for almost a year now and I’m still trying to find my place.  I’ve taken up sewing, I turned the guest bedroom into a crafts room, I buy scrapbook paper and sharpies and fabric.  Cork board lines my walls; I have a notebook labeled “Inspiration.”  I subscribe to DIY blogs and decorating blogs and I visit forums.  I have a folder labeled “Crafts” in my bookmarks and I add something to it every day.

But I’m not DOING anything.  I know I want to create something, but I’m scared to try.  I can’t draw, so I’m scared to try.  Writing doesn’t come easy for me, so I just don’t write.  Every night I find myself looking back over the day and wondering what it was that I did.  What did I accomplish that day? What did I spend my time on?  Usually the answer is “I finished the first season of True Blood, and started watching The Wire.”

My life can’t continue like this.  I need something to work towards.  I need deadlines, and specific goals, and they don’t have to cost money.  If I want to write, I need to write.  If I want to take beautiful pictures, I need to pick my camera up and fumble through it.  I’ve gotten used to not doing anything that I’m not DOING anything.

Starting tonight, I will create something every day.  It can be perfecting a drawing of a dandelion, or sewing a pillow case, or writing for 10 minutes.  I need to work out my brain, to shake off the dust and cobwebs and push my limits.

Starting tonight, I will DO something.

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On starting over.

We had lived in Houston about two months when Claire and I really started getting sick of each other.  The craziness from the holidays and unpacking was over, and we needed things to do.  Because I didn’t feel comfortable driving into Houston yet, we ventured into a safer part of town – the Sugar Land library.

The library has a great children’s area, with blocks and Lego’s and a doll house for kids to play with.  I settled myself into one of the couches with a book, and watched Claire interact with the other children.  Or I should say, not interact.  She spent a lot of time looking at everything, studying what the other kids did.  She would watch someone line up the blocks, then after they moved to something else, she would do the same thing.  Every few minutes, she would run up to me and hug my legs, as if to prove to herself that I was still there.

Mothers and fathers were watching everyone closely, interrupting playful screams with a hushed “Shh” or diverting attention from a possible fight with the promise of a better toy.  The kids where playing nicely, for the most part.  Except one little girl.  She couldn’t have been older than 2, judging by her limited vocabulary, but she was bigger than a lot of the other kids.  Her mother followed her around; giving back stolen books, apologizing to pushed children, trying to reign in the brat she brought.

There was no question who was in charge in this relationship.  Even though I still had some misconceptions about “Sugar Land Mothers,” this one was right on the money.  She wore gold earrings, high heels and at least a 3 caret diamond on her left hand.  Her clothes were apologetically expensive, and her hair was styled perfectly.  I couldn’t imagine she spent much time with her daughter, judging by the girl’s reaction to her.

“Madison, you have to share.”

“Madison, please don’t run.”

“Madison, stop gnawing on that little boy’s arm.”

Madison had no bias, picking on everyone equally, regardless of age or gender.  Except for Claire.  For reasons unknown to me (or Claire, I’m sure), she was especially nice to Claire.  She would steal a toy from some poor little boy and hand it to Claire.  Or, she would push a little girl off a chair and practically shove Claire into it.  After ten minutes or so of this, Claire got fed up of being the favorite one and joined me on the couch.  We read a book, and pointed out colors and animals.  The whole time, Madison’s mom tryed to involve me in conversation.

“Oh, she knows the sign for a lot of words!  How wonderful.”

“What a beautiful dress she’s wearing.  She’s just precious.  And so well behaved.”

“Oh look, Madion brought her a doll!  How sweet!  THANK YOU MADISON!  THANK YOU!”

I tried to brush off her comments, not wanting to have anything to do with her, or her mean daughter, and when they started packing up their things we all breathed a sigh of relief.

“Madison, say good-bye to your friend!  Maybe we can get her number and play with her again!  Would you like that?  WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY WITH THAT LITTLE GIRL, MADISON?!?!”

I froze.  Surely she couldn’t be serious.  Her daughter was a demon, and she was terribly annoying.  I didn’t give her any indication that I would ever want to see her again.  I hadn’t even given her my NAME, why would she think I would want to give her my NUMBER?!

Needless to say, I made up some excuse as to why I couldn’t (“I don’t have a Houston phone number.  In fact, I don’t have a phone.  I’m Amish.  I was dead at the time.”) and forgot about it.  Until yesterday.

Yesterday Claire took a nap later than usual, and when she woke up it was already 3.  We usually go to a playground at a mall in the afternoons, but it takes a good 20 minutes to get there, and we were inching dangerously close to rush hour traffic.  But, we were both bored and hot, so I decided we’d go to an indoor playground in Sugar Land that we haven’t been to in a while.  You have to pay to get in, and Homeslice doesn’t like playing by herself (I have to climb up with her or she’ll spend the whole time in my lap), so we stopped going.  But, it was close and had been about 4 months since the last time we were there.  Maybe she would play now.

I got settled at a table, and Claire ran off to play.  She only spent about 10 minutes on the Big Kid’s side before the banchee-like screams of one feminate little boy scared her off.  We walked over to the “2 and under” side, and I sat down on a bench.  There were three other women with their kids there, and they all looked to be my age.  Two of them were friends, and their sons were playing together.  The other one had a daughter who would not play by herself.  She spent most of the time on her mom’s lap, watching the other kids.

I could tell the mom was getting frustrated.  I knew exactly how she felt; it was just a few weeks ago that Claire would go play by herself, and only at the playground in the mall.  I couldn’t figure out how to make her more confident, or social.  I said to the other mom, “Claire is the exact same way.  We’ve tried almost every playground in the city.  But, she just wants to spend the whole time on my lap.  That’s why we haven’t been here in a while; I don’t want to pay $5 for her to sit with me.”

The other mom looked a little relieved.  We talked a little bit about her kid’s school, and made small talk with the other two women there.  After about 30 minutes, everyone started packing up to leave.  We said good-bye to each other, and everyone left.

It wasn’t until I looked around and noticed that I was alone in the little kid’s section, that I really felt…well, alone.  These women were my age, something that I’d been having a hard time finding.  It’s probably all in my head, but I feel like in every social situation, I’m the youngest mom there.  I never wanted my life to revolve around my kid, but that’s all I have to talk about with other moms.

Suddenly, I understood why Madison’s mom was so interested in getting my number.  Hell, I had almost written my contact information on the back of my receipt and shoved it in the face of those women.  It’s almost impossible to make friends when you stay home with a kid.  Finding someone that you like, who’s kid is around the same age as yours is hard.  The places I meet women are at Gymboree, or dance class, or the playground.  It seems like everyone already HAS friends; like everyone in Sugar Land knows everyone else.  Except for me.

I spend my days with a two year old.  Sometimes one of JR’s friends will come over, but it’s not to see me.  It’s to drink with JR.  My conversations are made up of jingles I make up to get Claire to clean up or eat her food or take a bath.

In January, this all hit me.  I had never felt so alone, or useless, in my life.  I didn’t have anything to look forward to, and everyday was worse than the one before.  Weekends weren’t better, because I knew that Monday would come around and I’d be alone with a kid again.  I shut off; living life in auto-pilot.  I don’t remember much about February, or March or April.  I would take Claire to dance class, gymnastics, Gymboree, then come home and cry.  Anything would set me off.  I remember a few times just lying on the couch next to Claire, looking at her and wondering if she would remember this.  Worried that she would remember how much I screwed up in those 3 months.  Every time she looked at me, I imagined that she was thinking about how she totally got hosed in the mother department.

Nothing held my interest.  I would get through the day by counting down the minutes until JR got home from work (god help him if he was late).  I would go to sleep at 8pm, right after Claire, get up at 7 and be tired all day. I smoked too much and cried too much and was the most unhappy I’ve ever been.

I remember driving over the flyover toward Sugar Land on numerous occasions, thinking “If I just turn my wheel to the left, the car will go over the side.”  I remember watching an episode of House, when the main character sits in his running car in the garage, and being surprised at the fact that he put blankets at the bottom of the garage door.  I hadn’t thought about that.  I looked at every bottle of Advil and Benadryl and Theraflu with new eyes; gauging how much was in each bottle and how much I would have to take to just fall asleep.  I wrote my suicide note in my head every time I took a shower, and wondered if I should take Claire with me, or if it would be better to leave her with JR.

It’s hard to write that here, out in the open.  It’s even harder to admit that it’s all true.  I knew I was in trouble, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

Then one day, JR and I got in a huge fight.  I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember sobbing in his arms.  That day I called a psychiatrist.  A few days later, I was on medicine.  I went back every month for 3 months, and she upped the dosage of my meds each time.  By my last appointment in June, I was finally feeling better.  Not great, but not bad.  I started asking for help from JR more, and being honest with myself more.

And now I can laugh with Claire.  I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago that she’s hilarious.  I couldn’t see that before; I never laughed before.  I’m still not 100%; in fact I think I need to see the doctor more often then every 6 weeks, but I’m better.  I have a lot that I still need to work out, but now I can laugh.

The last time I wrote anything here was the end of January.  I missed 6 months of letters to her.  That’s 6 months I won’t remember.  But the only thing I can do now is start again.  I can start fresh and try again.

That’s all I can do.

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Anatomy of a post

Most of the time I don’t think my life is very interesting.  I’m home all day with a kid who says things like, “Oom. Et-ee. It daa. Hai mummy. Puppies. Puppies. Pysh ah. Ah! Hahaha! Whoees. Et-ee”   Sure, sometimes she’s funny, but I forget what it is that she did that was so funny, or it’s only funny if you SAW her do it.

I write mini blog posts in my head, all day.  I write because I want to remember this time.  I didn’t write much during Claire’s first 9 months, and I wish I had.  So I’m determined to keep track of the daily happenings.

So, when something that had potential to be a really great post happened last night, I immediatly wrote down some notes about it.  I’ve been trying to twist and turn the events, to get just the right descriptions to accuratly portray the incident.  I don’t think I have it just yet, but I’m going to revisit this post during her naps and keep working on it.

Topic:  Claire sat on my lap while I was pooping.

Here’s where it gets tricky.  Normally, I’d start at the beginning.  I set Claire up with (fucking) Nemo, and tiptoed away to the bathroom.  I thought I had enough time to do my ahem business before she decided to look for me.

I was wrong.  I had maybe 45 seconds to myself before I heard her little footsteps and her small voice ask, “Mommy?”

“Hi, honey.  Mommy’s going potty.  Do you want to go potty?”  I asked, trying to buy some time.  She nodded, lifted up her dress and sat on her potty.  This will give me at least another minute.

But, she’s a smart kid.  She stood up almost immediatly, looked down at her diaper in confusion, and walked over to me.  She played with some of the bath toys, but looked a little sad.

“Mommy?”  She asked, holding up her arms.  “Pee-ee?  Peeese?”  This means “Pick me up, please.”  Not “Can I go pee, too?”  So I did.  I picked her up, sat her on my lap and continued to do my ahem business.

And I’ll tell you, she was silent.  No wiggling, no speaking, she just sat there, stoic.  I haven’t seen her sit that quietly since she learned how to walk.  We practiced some sign language – boat, baby, book.

I finally was done, and we walked out of the bathroom, hand in hand.

So, here’s my dilema.  The funny part about that story is in the middle.  She sat on my lap while I was pooping.  But the part about her being quiet is pretty funny too.  I don’t know.  I’ll look at it later and see what I can change.  There’s always room for improvement.

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Ok.  So it’s been 4 days since the Day Of Reckoning, and things are a lot better.  Tuesday was spent at home, all day.  We didn’t do any chores, we didn’t run any errands, our main focus was to have fun. And we did.  We played with blocks, and balls.  After a small argument about the necessity of wearing a coat, we went outside and played with the dogs.  I think I handled that one pretty well, actually.  I asked Claire if she wanted to go outside and play.  She said yes, so I put on my coat and held her coat out to put it on her.  She shook her head, and walked away.  So, I said, “You have to wear a coat outside.  If you don’t want to wear it, we’ll stay in.”  Three tries, and she let me put it on and we had a great time.

That was the only hiccup the whole day.  Wednesday JR stayed home from work, so of course Claire was a little angel.  She got in her carseat without even a whimper (at one point while we were driving to get lunch, she was kissing her baby doll.  Making a liar out of me, she is) and we had a lovely lunch.  Thursday was much of the same.

Today’s been a little rough, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Granny watched her last night while JR and I went out to dinner, and when we got home (at 11), she was STILL AWAKE.  Granny said she tried to put her down, but that she wouldn’t sleep.

The one saving grace throughout this whole thing is her naps.  She still takes two, one at 9 or 10 (depending on when she gets up) and one around 4.  Both times I take her in her room, make sure she has her milk, pacifier, blanket and pillow, and she just lays down and falls asleep.  How long she sleeps is another story, but it’s been my one victory that she falls asleep so well.  Of course now that I say that, she’s going to cry and thrash about every time I try to put her down.

The next week is packed with holiday visitors.  My dad is coming in tomorrow afternoon, and staying until Monday.  My mom (assuming she can get off work – please let her get off work!) will be coming in Wednesday and staying until Sunday.  We have Christmas morning at my lovely sister-in-law’s, Boxing Day on the 26th and JR’s old theater troupe is having a reunion at our house on the 27th.

My Christmas shopping is done, save some stocking stuffers for JR and Claire.  I need to wrap everything and ship presents to JR’s dad, but I can do that tonight.

So, things are better.  Much better.  It might be her, but it might also be my attitude toward her.  I was so frustrated on Monday, and she could tell.  I’m not letting myself get frustrated like that anymore.  She’s beautiful and wonderful and yes, a little headstrong, but that’s ME and JR in her.  And I love her; I just have to show her more often.

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I’m in a bad mood pretty much as soon as I wake up.  JR hadn’t cleaned the dishes he’d been promising all weekend to clean, it was 5:30 and I had only gotten about 4 hours of sleep since SOMEONE decided that 1 am was a perfect time for a baby party.  The house was a mess (and I’d be the one that had to clean it) and it was Monday.  The week loomed before me like a dark cloud.

I’m not going to lie.  I don’t like being a suburban stay-at-home mom.  There’s not enough to do during the day, and the Kid gets cranky.  I don’t blame her, it’s boring at home with just the two of us.  I try to DO things – indoor playgrounds, The Children’s Museum, Gymboree – but there’s only so many times one can crawl up rope netting and slide down slides before it gets mundane.

She’s not old enough to play on playgrounds by herself, plus she’s not quite independent enough.  She’s a confusing mix of not enough and too much.  At home, it’s “no. no. no.” all day.  She doesn’t want help putting on her shoes, or walking down the front steps.  She wants to drink out of a cup by herself, and play DVDs on her own.  But we get in public, where she can run and jump and climb, and she’s afraid.  She doesn’t climb up the netting alone; she wants my hand to help her over the plastic rims into the tunnel.  I know she could do it, but she doesn’t.

I’m in a bad mood, and she’s not helping.  She insists on being held when she eats.  She says she’s hungry, but doesn’t want any of the usual lunch time meals.  We end up with cranberry sauce, and she eats a few bites before she screams in her highchair; twisting and thrashing until I pick her up.  It takes me three tries before we finally are on the road; I left my cell phone inside, then I forgot that JR took the carseat out of the car this morning.  She fusses the whole way to The Stomping Grounds, and I find myself wishing I were sitting in a cubicle, having a conversation with someone in English, not the French my daughter seems to be speaking.

We arrive at the indoor playground that we’ve been to at least 30 times in the last month.  Our shoes come off, and I notice how many other mom’s are here.  They’re all in groups of 4 or 5, laughing, reprimanding, smiling.  They all look older than me, all in matching, high end clothes.  A sharp contrast to my grey corduroys and red Element t-shirt.

We walk to the big kids playground.  Claire wants nothing to do with the “Under 2” side of the park.  I help her up to the top level and we putz around a bit.  There’s a tunnel at the very top.  It’s made of interlocking strips of mesh, divided into 4 parts each separated by a slippery yellow piece of plastic.  We’ve never been through that tunnel; Claire’s feet slip through the holes and she thinks she can’t get them out by herself.  She always notices that tunnel, even lowering herself into the first section, before she gets discouraged and climbs back out to play somewhere safer.

There are about 10 kids running around today.  Some of the boys are as old as 6 or 7, but there’s a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 2.  She wasn’t much bigger than Claire, but she was noticably braver.  She climbed up the rope ladder, ran through the tunnels.  She was by herself, and very determined.  She never cracked a smile, and she noticed Claire right away.  Claire noticed her too.  Claire followed this little girl over the bridges that she knew, around the ball pit where she loved to sit.  Then the little girl went up the steps to the tunnel.

Claire followed her, cautiously.  I sat back and watched, reach to jump to her rescue should she get stuck.  She followed the little girl into the first part of the tunnel, carefully placing her feet in the cross sections of the mesh so as not to fall through.  The little girl flew through the first section, and jumped over the yellow plastic divider.  Then, she stopped and sat in the second section as Claire carefully put one leg over the plastic piece.  Claire reached one hand out and felt the rope on the side, and pulled herself over.  The little girl raced ahead, vaulting the second divider with ease.  Claire followed her, putting her hand where the little girl had, placing her feet carefully.  She climbed over the second divider where the little girl was waiting.  They continued on this path through the whole tunnel; the little girl going first and Claire following slowly behind.

They reached the last section when suddenly the little girl turned and went back the way they had just come.  Without blinking, Claire turned around and followed.

We had been to this playground at least 30 times in the last month.  Claire had never even tried to go through that tunnel until today.  She never tried, until a little girl, not much bigger than her, showed her the way.  When she came out the front again, and saw me waiting for her right where she left me, her face broke out into a huge grin.  I reached for her to give her a hug.  I wanted to hold her and tell her how proud I was of her, for figuring out something on her own.  I wanted to thank her for showing me how to face my own tunnel, with a quiet determination only kids can master.  I wanted to kiss her and tell her how glad I was that I was here to witness a huge step toward her independence.

But she pulled away before I could say anything, and went back over the bridge to sit in the ball pit, chit chattering in her own French the whole way.

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