~quinn’s forty-first month~ now i’m free!

~written november 2018~

at times during this particular era of quinn’s childhood, i remarked about things he had said or done that day which i hoped to remember because they had blown me away. i know i only jotted down a small fraction, and then half of what i wrote turned to pulp in the pockets of my jeans during my next load of laundry. when i revisited this image of quinn placing rock rose petals into a bowl, it seemed like the perfect metaphor. of the luminous moments we lived, most have fallen off the bush, floated away on the breeze, rendered transparent and washed away by an autumn rain, decayed into the soil once again. a very few have been carried inside by little hands, and carefully floated in a glass bowl. this was the month i was establishing this blog, this glass bowl into which i began attempting to place some small portion of the petals as they fell, realizing even then that this, too, is all going to pass away, but knowing that it will always be worthwhile to cup a petal in one’s hand and contemplate it for a time.

one night, bringing him home from the shop, as we pulled into the driveway quinn told me “i’m overwhelmed.” he did have quite a number of moments where he would become overwhelmed, so it was a word i had supplied to him. when he would get mad that something wasn’t working he had various responses like hitting, yelling “fucking” a lot, or saying angrily that he didn’t want to do that anyway, all of which screamed, “i don’t know how to deal with this problem and i’m overwhelmed.” so i would talk him through it saying that when i get really upset or have a lot of feelings all at once, or one really strong feeling, sometimes it is overwhelming and i don’t know what to do or how to feel. the funny thing was, he was riding home in the car, calmly, after a calm and fun evening with dada playing on the pirate ship, and he was very conversational about it, “*sigh, i’m overwhelmed. can you help me feel better?”

he seemed to be incorporating all those “yolk balls” he was eating. (he had been requesting “easter eggs” for snacks. he would eat the whites first then the “yolk balls” last. those free range eggs were brain food!!!) i knew there was some sort of developmental leap happening- signs were pointing to: by golly, another language leap.

he had come into his own about the fact that he was three. “i used to be two, but now i’m free!!!” he was still figuring out the fingers, how to hold up three of them. i never tried to teach him this, i figured quinn would eventually decide he needed to know how old he was, and then he’d learn it, and he did and so it came to pass.

we got the sequel to mokie and bik and he started absorbing it quickly. he asked all sorts of pointed questions about what it means when the parents say, “get out from underfoot” and why they would say that? yikes! he would point out big and little “o’s” everywhere on the pages. when we would read the first book, he would correct me if i missed a single word (on the level of “on the boat” instead of “in the boat”). a mind blowing amount of attention to detail.

one night when we were reading mokie and bik, he did something to me that hurt, and i was trying to talk to him about it and he seemed not to be listening, but just wanted to go right back to the story. so i said “hey, i’m not sure if you heard what i was saying?” and he looked at me and said “yeah i ‘pologize, mama.” and went right back about his business with the story. it was sincere, with maybe a slight attitude of saying whatever it was i needed to hear so that we could move on.

this month’s menu:

a whole package of mac and cheese (he “only” ate half of it.)

we used up frozen peaches and made peach bread

we were given some quail eggs on saturday, and quinn ate 5 of them once i boiled them- for only 4 minutes! so tiny. here he is protecting his baby eggs from raccoons.

we went to the barn on saturday night for music. quinn and i ate thimbleberries. quinn decided he is a thimbleberry.

quinn and i did a rumpus to cummins creek, where i have been harvesting nettle leaves. they are my totem plant at the moment- high in minerals, good for anemia. we splashed in the creek for a while (quinn fished with every stick he found) and log walked, and waded, and threw rocks in the water (splash!).

on wednesday quinn and i are going to try to go berry picking (marion and blue) in the valley, and bring home a freezer full. i need to get some cherries. i have to just get over the pitting process, because i really would love to have some put away for eating all winter. when i let myself admit it, they are MY favorite- as much as i love all the others, and as much as i know quinn loves them all and his faves are the blueberries, i love cherries. so i’m going to get some for me.

i am almost out of my tomatoes from last season in jars, but i think i did really well estimating- i think i have two jars left, no more sauce, just chopped tomatoes in the jar, which is perfect for right now since i’ll just dump those in with spinach/fava beans/zucchini/greens in whatever pasta i’m cooking with fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh garlic….. so yummy. i’m living on it.

the entire bottom of my fridge is greens. i have 3 heads of lettuce, a bag of arugula, a bag of mustard greens, a bag of mixed greens… that might be “it”. i have to eat a lot of salad! that’s not to mention that some of my greens in my garden are ready to pick.

a popular tune with quinn (whether at the music barn or home) was the garbage can song (sung to the tune of stray cat strut):

i’m a little green garbage can
on wednesday night mama rolls me out to the street
on thursday morning the garbage truck comes and empties me out
and dada rolls me back behind the house

the people and colors of garbage were interchangeable (one night i was a purple one and mr. kitty was a gray one: “mama’s a big purple garbage can on wednesday night quinn rolls her out to the street….”).

one time he played xylophone and box drum along with “bop” marley’s i don’t wanna wait in vain for your love, and at the end of it, he asked me, “what is bop marley singing about?” i said what i thought and then asked what he thought “bop” was singing about. “bop marley is singing about a mama person he really wants to kiss.”

this time frame wasn’t all easter eggs and folk songs. there was an undercurrent of extreme tension in the department of coparenting, surrounding financial responsibilities and the best way forward for providing quinn’s daily care. the montessori was discussed as one option, though we didn’t end up there, and the discussion was dysfunctional and unbalanced and fraught with strife. i wish i could say that the tension was kept safely away from quinn, but there were times when the conversations he’d overhear left him in tears. one of the only reasons i think quinn and i weathered that time as well as we did, was a lot of practice calling our feelings what they were as they arose (e.g. overwhelm), a journey towards developing emotional competence a 30-something mama and a 3-year-old boy were embarking on side by side. little by little, i was embracing that the bill of rights applied to me too, establishing boundaries (such as, no more “day care” at my house or no more using my laundry detergent). all of this happened to coincide with the july 4th holiday, and i couldn’t help but harbor a new fondness for independence day. once upon a time, we were two, but now, i was free!

after we got home from quinn playing with his boat in the ocean, i brought him home wearing one of my shirts. he was fluttering through so many expressions! i even captured “mean pirate face.”

on a trip to otter rock, quinn found endless entertainment in squirting water from the little algae balloons.

sandy carseat; this artifact requires no explanation.

quinn and i had sushi and lemonade at cafe mundo one night. it was a slow night at the cafe and we hung out for a while. later i realized i’d walked out without paying; they are not exactly prompt with the check, and we were not really “at a table” the whole time and were up and about drawing with chalk on the wall. we drove back to pay on the way home, and quinn asked me over and over, “but mama why did you forget to pay?” i was getting pretty impatient about having to answer him again (because, i realized, it was kind of embarrassing) and i calmly unloaded how i felt about it (that i was embarrassed and feeling impatient and i felt i had explained it and what more did he want to know?)

“i just don’t know what you’re saying, mama.” and before i could say anything else he added abruptly, “i need a break.”

i was just quiet while we drove up the hill towards home. we drove about 4 blocks, up to the traffic light, and he announced, “i’m done with my break!”

“you’re all done?”

“yeah, i’m feeling better, are you happy now mama?”

“yeah, i’m feeling a lot better, that was a good break.”


we we went to the toy store to pick out a new sticker book. i had gotten him a bird sticker book for his birthday, and we had finished putting all the birds on their pages (a great activity for occupying him at the market!) out of a dozen other sticker books to choose from (jungle, puppies, trains) he chose another copy of the birds, “because i want to do the peacock again. the feathers have eyes!” despite trying to run out of the store with this cool balance board thing, i got complimented by the store clerk on quinn’s excellent behavior. they must see some crazy shenanigans in there! i reflected on the aspects of store maneuvers that quinn and i do have worked out. so many kids beg plead and argue in stores, while quinn seems content to look at things calmly. i think he knows i’ll let him look as long as he wants and i never take anything away from him (though i do chase him and make him come back in the store; he was giggling like a fiend!)

on the subject of birds, i was very excited at that time about the new organic cotton birdsong fabric i was using to make baby carriers. it was a birdie year for quinn and i; for quinn, “hatching” out of blanket eggs, eating yolk balls, exhibiting nest guarding behaviors; for me, noticing wild bird friends, tending to my chick and my nest, and in my own way spreading my wings and taking flight. birdsong was perhaps the most fitting fabric for our own upgraded baby carrier (the one that i would soon make and would see us through to the end of baby wearing) and in looking back i can’t help but note its symbolic timing; birds singing, freedom ringing.

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