Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How did it go?

Us Collins girls were on our own last night-- with Papa Bear taking a quick business trip up north, we held down the fort, a first since Lily joined our family. And we did our best to make it a special evening, although there's no denying the home felt empty without our most beloved member arriving home for dinner. We had some friends over, had a real dinner with the table set, had a little forbidden candy for desert, took a long bath, and spent twice our usual allocated time having a "family snuggle" in Ben and my bed. But the truth is, all my efforts didn't fool our big girl, who had no doubt in her mind that something wasn't quite right. An hour later, after Lily was asleep, I was still in bed with Zosia, reading just about every poem in my own childhood copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, which, I must admit, I still find amusing and wonderful twenty plus years later. Hoping that the words would make Zosia's eyelids heavy. And between nonsensical poems about mice and rain and pretending that all seemed to run together, I came upon this one, and paused. It gave me a moment of clarity.
Forgotten Language

Once I spoke the language of the flowers
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow.
Once I spoke the language of the flowers...
How did it go?
How did it go?
And I got goosebumps! Because sometimes something as simple as children's literature has the capacity to communicate deep unspoken truths. Here I am, straining to hear those forgotten languages, while I am surrounded by little babies that still speak them fluently: the languages of flowers and pinecones, and acorns, and sticks, and mice and bananas, and houseflies.

I snuggled up close to that little toddler of mine, realizing that for all the things I have to teach her, she holds some treasures that I could only dream of possessing. As she drifted to sleep (close to an hour after that, with me knitting in a rocking chair by her crib), I marveled to think of what her dreams would hold. Listening closely.

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