Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wow! Look At That!

Sometimes I feel like I'm short-changing Ben on this whole being his mother thing. Especially now with Anna around. She's still an infant. She can't move herself to and fro, she still breastfeeds, she cries a lot. She gets a lot of my attention, attention that used to be Ben's alone.

I'm glad I'm blogging so I can remember what my kids are like as little ones. Some days I go to bed, my head reeling and rollercoastering from the day's drama and exhaustion. I can barely remember what should go on the grocery list.

We had some lovely moments last night. After we got cleaned up from dinner, Chris walked into the kitchen and gave me a few options for how the rest of the night should go. 1. Walk to the park. 2. Let him go outside and dig up a garden. or 3. Sit on the couch and watch TV.

I picked the garden because I'm worried that if we put it off too many times, we won't have it dug in time to plant anything. Anna and I sat in a lounge chair, and Ben played with some special (noise-making ones that we kept in the garage all winter) trucks. And Chris worked his butt off digging away. (I refuse to even consider buying a roto-tiller thing just for a small patch of garden, and we don't know anyone local who owns one.)

Once again, I felt renewed and just plain "good" to be outside. A neighbor drove down the alley and greeted us, Ben squealed at boys who were riding their bikes down the sidewalk, and I watched another neighbor a few houses down take her laundry off of the line. And watching Ben get righteously dirty? Heaven.

He even tried helping Daddy.

But even fresh dirt and urban farm equipment can only hold a toddler's attention for so long. Eventually, he got a little antsy, so I hauled the kids around the block in the stroller.

And wouldn't you know it? A friggin' choo-choo was making a delivery to the warehouse in the block behind us! This train is only used between a handful of businesses in the area, and I'm not sure what their schedule is, but we got lucky last night.

My son, the lover of trains, had never seen a train in real life before. He was amazed. We watched it inch its way down the tracks until it stopped. And then we walked up and down the block three times so we could admire it some more. The engineer eventually waved. I think Ben was in shock.

We went back home and left Anna and the stroller with Dad, and we ran to the end of the alley to get another view of all that train-y goodness.

The excitement was tangible. I could only lure him away with the promise of cookies. It was times like that when I wished he could talk more... at least in words I can understand. I could kind of guess what was going on in his head, but I did most of the talking and shouting.

As a mom who is more than willing to act like a fool for her kids, I didn't think twice about narrating the experience for Ben within earshot of the neighbors. "Look, Ben! The train engine is black. It is pulling a blue train car, a yellow train car..." You get the idea. This tomfoolery has a serious purpose – to expose Ben's ears to simple, direct words and sentences.

I was actually thrilled to see a train in our neighborhood. I was excited for Ben and this new experience for him. I can hardly wait to show him the growing things in our garden. Look, Ben! We planted a bean seed, and now this vine is growing up the stick. It is green and alive. Isn't that wonderful?