Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter tales

Big day. It started with the kids getting up before seven and getting giddy over the prospect of finding eggs and candy stashed all over the house. Watching them skip about, sometimes in tandem, sometimes solo, but always checking in with each other, hollering out new discoveries, sharing new finds, I couldn't help appreciate what a good place we're in right now. Tess and Colm really dig each other's company most of the time.
I remember the first Easter that Colm was able to participate in the hunt for Easter eggs. All he could think to do was follow Tess from spot to spot. She would find something and move quickly on. Colm would linger for a moment, look at the now empty spot as if slightly puzzled then quickly regain his intention to follow Tess to the next egg. And so it would go. Her basket filled up and his remained empty. She found things; he observed. It's different now. Colm understands the principal of independent inquiry and of getting there first, but always he is bound to his sister. "Tess, Look!" he says. He wants her to observe what he has done. For the most part she obliges him, and she even sends an extra egg his way once in awhile.
A year ago on Easter Sunday in France, I made this post. Tess made her very first solo bicycle ride on this day. Colm followed suit two days later. They keep slingshotting before our eyes, connected by some invisibly elastic band that keeps them in contact with one another even as it alternately slows one down nearly to the breaking point only to suddenly propel him or her headlong into the lead for a time. Mostly this happens just beneath our radar, during their seemingly endless sessions of fantasy games. Sometimes Beth or I manage to put something on the agenda that captures their fancy....a tennis racket, a paint brush, a guitar, a bowl of flour, bag of seeds, a book, a bicycle...but what do they do in response is always in some essential way, unexpected, surprising, and distinct from what we intend. They are their own persons already, fully outfitted with imaginations and ambitions and questions of their own.
Last night in bed, Tess asked me, "In the school elevator, where is number 2?"
When I take Tess to my school on weekends, we often take the elevator to my classroom. She loves to push the buttons. Three takes us to my room on the second floor. One takes us back to the ground floor. Those are the only buttons we ever push, the only two buttons I've ever pushed. But not the only ones we think about, obviously. Two is a strange button. We're not supposed to use it since it provides access to the TV and radio studio which occupies an intermediate level and which sits on the opposite side of the elevator. Tess has never seen or even heard of this room. She has intuited it existence however. Anyway, I try to explain the situation of door number 2 to her. She listens attentively.
I conclude my little explanation with, "I don't think we're supposed to push number 2."
Tess seems not to be listening anymore. It's as if another question has taken up residence in her mind. It turns out that I'm right. She says, "Daddy, if you move do you have to change your name?"
"When Emily moves, will she have to change her name?"
I tell her that just because you change your address doesn't mean you change your name. "Your name is your name. It never has to change."
"Daddy, what's your middle name?"
I realize that Tess and I are now performing the night time dance version of Staying Awake. Sometimes I'm too tired to really enjoy this kind of thing, but this night I can't think of any place I'd rather be or anyone I'd rather be playing with, so I launch into an extended back and forth Tess on middle names and last names. Along the way Tess discovers that my middle name is Patrick (I honestly thought she knew that already), that Beth's is Joanne, and that Beth is not technically a Cahill, that she has kept her maiden name. This last revelation is of tremendous interest to her. We talk about the decision that woman have to make about whether to keep or change their names when they get married. Tess seems to ponder what her own decision might be. She declares that she is half Cahill and half Wasley. I agree. Then we start making up combination names, Wahill, Casley, Waca, Cahillsly.... Tess really likes this game.
At length, the game subsides and we fall silent for a few seconds. I'm beginning to think about going to my own bed. It's as if Tess can read my thoughts.
"Will the police arrest you if push number 2? Is it against the law?"
"Uh, no." Then I add, "I'm going to ask someone what happens when you push number 2 and then I'll tell you okay?"
Tess nods and then says, "When I'm in high school, I'm going to find out."
It's my turn to nod. "I'm sure you will."


Blogger Erin said...

I love these glimpses into your days with Tess and Colm! Thanks for sharing:)

1:40 PM  

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