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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Listen to the Stories

"Do you know," Peter asked "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories."

James M. Barrie, Peter Pan, 1904

I couldn't resist this quote, borrowed from Peter Pan, and most recently, the beautiful blog, The Galley Proof.

syd, ben

This shot, is of Ben and Syd in the playhouse that Nana and Pop bought them this year. If I could install a monitor to eavesdrop on the conversations and musings that take place within those four walls, I would in a heartbeat. There's nothing more precious and more entertaining than listening to children speak to one another. Our son is going to be 6 in a few days and our daughter is 2.5 and whether they are with friends or each other, it's guaranteed that I always wish that I had a tape recorder with me to capture the moments.

After we bought our house we used to have a baby monitor upstairs so that our son wouldn't feel so stranded when he was in bed and we were downstairs in the kitchen or watching tv. We kept it plugged in after our daughter was born but found it a more useful tool for listening in on our son's playtime with his friends then her screaming (you could hear her across the street so a monitor was overkill).

One afternoon Ben explained to his friend that we were all having dinner together. After detailing what the meal would entail, his friend said, "I don't like vegetables." Ben replied that they were good for you but his friend persisted, saying, "I don't know how to eat them." "Well, I'll show you," Ben explained, "you just put them in your mouth and chew them." Our neighbors joke that Ben is the 'Master of the Obvious' and it's moments like this that highlight that so clearly.

Eventually, he caught on to us and would only whisper half "the plan" to his friends, cryptically allowing as how, 'They' are listening. This always sent the adults scurrying back to our chairs at the kitchen table as if we had been physically caught in the act by the five year olds.

This fall, my daughter had to endure a horrible medical procedure that involved giving her medication to both relax her and induce amnesia (unfortunately, none was for my husband or me). That afternoon, while playing at a friend's house, I overheard Sydney on their monitor explaining her day to her best friend. "I went to the doctor's today. I cried at the doctor's today." My heart broke at the realization that she had some recollection of her morning but was instantly soothed by the sound of her friend saying, "Oh, you're okay. It'll be okay." It was everything not to run up the stairs and tell them both that it would, in fact, be okay.

Deech would most certainly call me nosey, but I like to think that I am the swallow, hoping to build my nest in the eaves of my children's rooms, houses, and lives so that I can always listen to their stories, always be in the know, comforted by their joy and humbled by their wisdom. Alternately, it's hard not to rush to answer every question, break up every battle or soothe every wound, real or imagined.

Like the swallow, I can only listen to the stories.
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