birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Little Miss Understood

I went to visit Sylvie and her parents when she was over a year old. This was a solo grandmother expedition, in the interest of seeing my grandchildren as they grow, and to be of some assistance to the parentals. The parentals in this case are both working in academia. She, a full time admin job advising in the Judaic Studies program at UCSD. He, a malingering PhD candidate in Philosophy, same institution. Both dead tired, were very glad to see me for the respite.

As is the case in young families, life centers around the needs of the child. Family time is structured, and routine (this is the son that thought routine was unhealthy) helps everything work--mostly.

I always felt keeping pace with my children's development was like an endurance test for a detective. Just as soon as I figured out where they were at and adjusted to their changes they were out way ahead of me again.

At this time, Sylvie was full fledging into toddlerhood. And with all that it implies. The sweet active baby was still sweet on occasion. Now, it seemed that moods fluctuated like the weather depending on what the air temperature was.

Said son had mastered the bedtime ritual. And I am very proud of him for that. Teeth brushing with songs being sung. Lights out one by one. Reading a story of her choice in the dim quiet...

But one night, the pre-bedtime ritual was forgotten. Oh no! We forgot to feed the kitty! It was Sylvie's job to fill Thumbelina's cat dish with dry chow. When this was realized, the final step of bedtime ritual halted. The cat must be fed! And Sylvie MUST be the one to do it. I am not sure how this lapse happened. But, for Sylvie, to skip this step made it IMPOSSIBLE to go to bed.

Then, for an unexplained toddler reason, Sylvie refused to feed the cat AND she refused to go to bed. This is when the meltdown evolved and devolved to volcanic stormy tears as the world had surely ended as we know it. No amount of comforting helped. Sylvie had three adult witnesses to this nuclear event, and that was about all we could do. Suffice to say, we didn't make bedtime on time. In fact, it was probably a good hour and a half later.

After we were sure she was quietly sleeping, the adults gathered in the living room to quarterback the situation. The parentals were fatigued and shocked in their own respective ways. I tried to comfort them. They really were doing a good job. Mama decided she needed to go out for ice cream. Really good ice cream.

Lost in Translation