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The rainbow sparkles, please

September 19, 2011

We’ve barreled through the past month of changes without looking back and without much time to look forward either.  Our kids have taken everything in stride (ish); moving, teacher visits and student/parent orientations, the first days of school at two different pre-schools, new beds, new sleeping arrangements, new routines, new friends.  And now we’re staring down the last big change; my wife starts her new job in a little less than two weeks.  Given children’s binary sense of time (now | not now), reminding them of impending changes outside of their control just seems cruel.  Our approach therefore has been to appraise them of the situation, tell them how it’s likely to go down from their perspective, and then – barring questions – not to talk about it (in front of them) again until just before it happens.

Our older kid has begun spontaneously announcing that xe just wants to be ‘plain’ when xe grows up.  Not understanding where this was coming from, I found this to be crushingly sad.  Our family speaks two languages and the word xe used for plain was one most closely associated with food – the plain croissant (without chocolate) or plain ice cream (no sprinkles – or “sparkles” as our kids are more likely to call them).  To my grown up ear, it sounded like a wish for a grownup life devoid of small extras that bring joy.  Because we haven’t been talking about the new job, it took me while to understand that xe is projecting hir desire for my wife to remain just mama and not a worker and a mama.  Being a just a plain parent is difficult.  Being a parent “with sparkles” is even less forgiving.   But I’m not giving up the sparkles.  I’d like the rainbow ones, please.

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