Monday, October 5, 2015

when time is full































Jumping in and out of a person's life - as in, living a country away and seeing them face to face, skin to skin every six or nine or twelve months - has a way of creating snapshots without showing much of what happens in between. My niece and nephew grow up in a fragmented way before me, then they were toddlers and now all of a sudden (or so it seems) they are bigger little people - or is it little bigger people?  They are saying interesting things and cultivating interests I could not have guessed. How did they learn that, I wonder. Where did that idea come from? It's like planting a seed and coming back to found that it has sprouted when you still expected it to be hibernating in the ground.

My nephew Tayte is nearly seven and all boy. On this visit, he has punched, hi-fived, kicked, head-butted and farted on me. Wrapped in a blanket before school this morning (ie being a green lobster of course), he was unaware as I scooped him up into my lap and declared him my baby (not a lobster!) and rocked him in my lap. But the lobster spread his claws and tried to pinch me and found his way to the floor. Tayte expresses himself bodily, dropping to the ground when he is frustrated or hungry or tired. Although he uses words, too, which he forms into expressions that make me stop and wonder how he ever thought of that. For example, yesterday, in response to something unexpected and funny he did, I said to him, "you're so random!" He replied, with a taunting tone, "You're so random. You came out of nowhere." How he became so existential and whip smart, I have no idea. Maybe it's all the Star Wars he's watching.

Amelia is my niece. She just turned nine. We have talked about dying our hair funky colors, the art of wearing skirts over leggings (always with shorts, too, she explained, in case you want to do cartwheels), and she's impressed by my shoe collection. When she told me about some of her life goals, she explained it's between being an Olympic gymnast or America Ninja Warrior. Then, after thinking a minute, she realized she could do both, and I agreed. I tried to get information about her love life as she pointed to her friends in her school yearbook, but she just blushed and turned the page. (I was satisfied.) On my second night here, we moved my blow-up mattress from the play room to her room. She dragged her pillow and propped it against the wall next to mine, and together we read until we were sleepy. The next night, she told me it was time to read together again. Now I am wondering, can I be best friends with my niece?

These glimpses of who they are and are becoming always makes me a little sad about missing all the in between. I want to see how those ideas formed, how those desires got planted. Yet, there's something important about the distance and moving time that helps me to see the changes more distinctly. Time can feel like a thief that steals moments when we aren't looking, but maybe all those moments weren't mine to have in the first place. It was in those moments we had apart - when time was full and ours for the taking - that we got these crazy ideas that we can share when we're together. Farting and reading before bedtime and all.


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