…cutting, pasting, coloring cards of love…
…whispering, giggling, glittering with Sissy.
I cleaned out the car yesterday. Here is a list of things Sissy and Piper left in the backseat:
7 used kleenexes
12 discarded lollipop sticks
4 half eaten granola bars
2 empty water bottles
17 unidentifiable objects
and 1 note written from Sissy to Piper…
…that made me forget the rest of the mess.
It snowed! It snowed! It snowed!
In honor of the snow, Piper has invented a new sport. It’s called Snow Cuddling. Here’s how it goes, according to the Piper.
Step One: It has to snow.
Step Two: You look at the snow.
Step Three: You cuddle while looking at the snow.
Step Four: Repeat steps One through Three.
Two hour snow delays encourage creativity.
Sleep seems to take so long for the Piper. It’s like almost ten whole hours that we are apart. Piper doesn’t know how we stand the moments without her. She knows it’s hard on us. So she wakes us every morning the same. Gently.
First, she scurries to the door to check for sunlight. She’s not allowed to get out of bed until the sun does. It’s also supposed to be after a number that starts with 7.
Once Piper gets the go ahead from the sun, she starts whispering. From the hallway.
She uses her best breathless Kathleen Turner voice. “Good morning,” she whispers, “the sun is awake. Good morning, family.”
Then she pounces and announces. “It’s me, people. It’s me. The Piper. Your Pipey. I’m here for the morning snuggle. Did you miss me?”
Of course we did.
Every Christmas Eve Piper, Sissy, and their cousins put on a holiday program. The planning takes the entire week leading up the event. There are negotiations and rehearsals. There is a band, interpretive dances, sing-a-longs, poetry readings, mini-dramas, etc. The Bible is read. The 12 Days of Christmas is performed. We try to limit the holiday program to under an hour. Sometimes we need an intermission.
This year, charades were added. When it was Piper’s turn she obediently sat in a chair in the middle of the circle and asked questions.
“Am I a girl or a boy?”
“Boy!” the crowd roared back.
“Am I an animal?”
There was a pause. “Technically, yes,” someone called out.
“Do I like Christmas?”
Piper squinted her eyes and assessed the family. “Am I real or fake?”
“REAL!” we all shouted.
“I know,” Piper exclaimed, jumping up from her chair, “I’m Santa Claus!”
And the crowd went wild.
It’s cookie making time, folks. First, you roll out the dough with your Sissy.
Then, you cut out the gingerbread “people.”
“I don’t know why they’re just gingerbread men, Mom. That seems so unfair,” Piper complained.
Next, you decorate your genderless cookies. Piper’s gingerbread are a patriotic bunch. The more red, white, and blue icing, the better.
Finally, you eat them. It’s an equal opportunity snack.
I’ve been a teacher for 15 years. I’ve been a mom for 10. I’ve had to lock my classroom door for numerous lockdowns. I sat with 4th period once for hours when there was a gunman on campus. He was from the surrounding neighborhood. He never intended to harm our students.
Yesterday morning while students at Sandy Hook Elementary were under siege, I was at Piper and Sissy’s elementary school. I took the day off and decided to join the girls for lunch. The smiles, the giggles, the joyful chaos that is elementary school filled me all up. The time was a gift. The evil in our world never crossed my mind.
Until I got in my car to drive away and heard the news. I sat in the parking lot fighting the urge to go back in. I wanted to grab my kids and hide. I wanted to grab everyone’s kids and hide. I wanted to know that they were safe, even though I’d seen them moments before. It wasn’t logical; I knew that. But parenting and living require faith. I went home. I waited.
And then I thought about the parents who were also waiting. The ones in the Connecticut parking lot waiting for their kids to come out one by one. The last ones. The ones with empty arms. Oh, God.
Piper and Sissy came home hours later hungry. They wanted snacks. They wanted to throw down their backpacks and share their day. I sat and listened and asked questions, but I’m not sure I heard a word. I kept moving my chair closer, close enough to touch them. I couldn’t get close enough.
Yesterday was moving day (more on that later). In a frantic rush to clean out both my fridge and pantry, I made soup. I chopped up every single vegetable (3 carrots, 1 onion, 4 parsnips, 3 stalks of celery, 1 yellow pepper, and a handful of snap peas) and threw in as many cans of kidney beans and chopped tomatoes as the pot would hold. The cookbooks were packed so I made it up as I went.
Piper wanted to help, so I let her sprinkle in cumin, chipotle, oregano, and basil. Turns out, I was making chili. I found a can of warm beer in the back of a closet so beer bread became a side dish for the chili. Piper stirred and sniffed and tasted. She added more pepper. She said it needed salt and honey. She asked if we could shred the rest of the cheddar block to top the bowls of chili. She’s brilliant like that.
And we ate chili and hunks of fresh beer bread slathered with the last pats of butter. The movers had taken our chairs and table so we sat on the empty dining room floor. It was the best soup I’ve ever tasted. Piper has the touch.
This morning we woke up in our new house in a maze of boxes. I found 3 bowls but we couldn’t find spoons. We have cereal but the milk is still at the other house. We drank our orange juice from crystal goblets. “What do you want for breakfast, Piper? I found bagels. Or you can have dried cereal without the milk. And I have one pear.”
“Soup,” Piper said. “I want chili.”
“I can’t find the spoons.”
“I’ll use chips. Or beer bread. Or both. Yummy!”
So Piper had soup for breakfast. She wants it again for lunch. It’s becoming her thing. There are worst things. If it were up to Piper, there would always be soup for you.
Piper likes to paint the sun in all of her pictures.
Sometimes her pictures have multiple suns. They’re always bright yellow with lots of rays. Sometimes the suns hang out on the ground and sometimes they do their business in the sky with the clouds and birds. You never know where a sun will appear.
“I drew this sun for you!” Piper said, peeling off another sun, flower, sky picture from her easel.
“I love the sun! Yellow is my favorite color.” I admired the painting.
“The sun always makes me think of you, Mommy.”
“Really?” I asked. I’ve been called lots of things. Sunny has never been one of them.
“Yep,” Piper nodded. “Because you wake everyone in our house up, too. Just like the sun. Whether we want you to or not.”