A few signs of life and one major milestone

Spring is here. Bugs are buzzing, buds are popping and Easter is right around the corner. This weekend in spirit of good ole’ American commercialism tradition, we decorated eggs.

eggs3Now, with every American holiday – and the rituals that accompany them – my wife who is Japanese asks, “What’s this tradition mean?”

You have to understand, in Japan they’ve celebrated their traditions for several thousands of years – and each tradition has a deep, and culturally understood meaning embedded in it.

So the fact that we color hard-boiled eggs and search for and devour pastel colored wicker baskets full of candy in honor of Jesus’s trip to heaven is hard to explain – fully.

But I tried.

So there I was, explaining the coloring of the eggs and the resurrection of Christ and the green grass that goes in the Easter baskets – desperately trying to tie it all together while searching to make sense out of it for myself.

I think she could tell that I was struggling, because she took over and offered, “I guess the eggs must be a symbol of spring and new life.”

“Oh, yes – exactly.” I said in my best so-there-you-have-it tone.

“But,” she said, with a look on her face as if it had all come full circle, back to the point where it didn’t make any sense, “Why eggs and a bunny? Bunnies don’t lay eggs.”

True.

I just shrugged and dropped the color tab into the cup of vinegar … just like my mom showed me. You know, tradition.

A note on that – this year (and I’m probably late in the game here, but …) we tried the marble/speckle effect by adding a few table spoons of veggie oil into the color cups.

eggs1I’d never done that before. They turned out pretty cool. Do I spot a new tradition taking hold?

Another point I wanted to make – because I make a huge deal about it with our four-year-old – is about safety while helping at the kitchen counter.

In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, four-year-olds love to help.

Although they are still very “me, me, me” oriented (don’t worry, it’s natural and healthy for their independence), they also really love to help out and contribute – if we let them.

When asked, “Can I help?” it’s too easy to feel rushed and give the knee-jerk, “not this time.”

But we make it a point to let our oldest get involved, even if his “helping” makes more work for us, which it usually does.

When he’s helping at the counter, he brings his little chair with him. That’s a safety issue I have to constantly remind him about.

eggs2

safe-stepAs the photos show, it’s safer to put the back of the chair against the counter. Otherwise, he’s one wrong step away from tripping over it. With the back out of the way, and his back clear, if he does slip, he’s not “trapped” in that split second and he can just hop down.

They love to help – but while they’re up there helping, squirming and jumping around comes with it.

So a major tradition in our house is safety.

Lastly, our family enjoyed a major milestone this week.

Ever since our oldest son was born, we had to pat his back to make him sleep. For four years, we’d get him into his crib – and some years later, a bed – and pat, pat, pat his back for anywhere from 15 minutes to sometimes over an hour until he fell asleep. I’ve done his night-night (bed-time story and back patting) for the better part of three years. It became the norm and we got use to it, but it was still a major demand of time and energy at the end of the day – when time and energy are in short supply.

I eventually just started to make the most of it. Sitting there, at the side of his bed, mindlessly patting away, I’d listen to an audio book on headphones. While taking online college courses, occasionally I’d get caught up on some text book reading.

And for the past four or five months, I’ve been study his beach ball globe, which is what it sounds like: An inflatable globe. That paid off. 20 minutes of world geography for 4 months. True story. I overheard someone recently say they had to make a business trip to Azerbauan. While everyone else gave them that puzzled, “where?” look, I quickly and without thinking said, “Wow, right up there along the Caspian Sea between Russia and Iran huh?”

But I digress.

This week, I’m happy to report our son is off the pat. Right after his bed-time book, he’s falling asleep by himself, without the help of anyone. The first few nights, were a little rough. Choking back the tears, he’d protest, “ I don’t think I can do it.”

“You sure can buddy.”

“But I’m scared.”

“OK, Let me look deep into those eyes … yep … just what I thought. I see a brave big boy in there. You can do it.”

Fighting the tears, he said, “Dada, I don’t want to, but I’m going to try.”

His little face, by this time soaked with tears, was contorted and melting as I walked out. Slowly closing the door, I took one look back at him. Tucked in but still sitting up, he looked at me, wiped across his eyes with his sleeve, and threw me a bitter-sweet thumbs up.

I gestured the same back and left the room. I closed the door, leaving it open just a crack.

night-night1I peeked in about 15 minutes later and he was long off to dream land.

And in that moment, he took a quantum leap forward in his independence.

I never thought I say it, and I can’t believe I’m saying it now, but I’ll miss those quiet moments, in there patting his back.

It’s the end of a phase and the dawning of the next.

I can’t wait to see what’s to come.

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2 Responses to “A few signs of life and one major milestone”

  1. Kelly K. Says:

    Way to go, buddy!

  2. That “eggstra” touch « Says:

    […] Last year, when we bragged about what we thought were pretty cool Easter eggs, our friend and reader, Stacey, politely replied with the equivalent of a walloping Easter egg trump card. […]

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