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Zoe has been consistently thrilled at the prospect of becoming a big sister ever since we told her. She’d been wishing for this as long as we had–which was a long time.
The only reservation she had was about moving to a new room. We have three bedrooms, but since I work from home, one of them has to be my office. So we realized the only real option was to move Zoe and the baby into the slightly bigger bedroom. While she said she was up for the change, she expressed a lot of anxiety about it.
At Christmas, my sister’s mother-in-law, who recently moved to this area from South Carolina, surprised us with a generous offer to paint the new kids’ room. She had recently repainted some rooms in my sister and brother-in-law’s house and was in the process of painting in her own house and I guess she was in the painting groove. We happily accepted.
Last week she was here for three days, expertly applying several coats of a bright yellow shade called summer wheat.
When my mom asked Zoe what she thought of the new paint job, Zoe gushed “it’s so beautiful!” and when Randy came home from work, Zoe showed him the room and said, “even when it’s nighttime outside, I’ll have sunshine in my room, and even when it’s winter, I’ll have summer in my room!”
Then yesterday, we moved the furniture around and set Zoe up in the new yellow room. Until we have time to set up the crib, her dolls and stuffed animals have taken up residence on the crib mattress in the corner. At bedtime last night, Zoe said, “I’m not worried about my new room any more. I just couldn’t imagine what it would look like before, but now that it’s all set up, I’m used to it already. It’s fabulous.”
Of course at bedtime last night and tonight, when I told her to get undressed, she wandered into the office. And then turned around and came back down the hall. At bedtime tonight when she was saying what she was thankful for, she said “I’m thankful that Chris is alive and that she painted my room.” Me too! Thanks, Chris.
Our family loves Sweet Honey in the Rock. We have most of their cds, we’ve seen them in concert several times, and I was fortunate enough to meet member Ysaye Barnwell when I was singing with All Souls Church’s Jubilee Singers, which she founded decades ago.
Sweet Honey has produced a few kids cds, and Zoe loves them. One was a favorite when she was younger–it includes folk songs and gospel songs and African songs and is perfect to sing along with or sing to your baby or toddler. Another one is more geared toward older kids, about education, respect, and manners. This one she played over and over and over several times a day for weeks last year. As much as we like the group and the music, it made us insane. Finally we made her switch to something else. And I revealed that I owned several other Sweet Honey cds. So she asked me to get them out.
We transferred most of my Sweet Honey cds to the car, and Zoe quickly observed that the music for grown-ups sounds different than the music for kids. While there are definitely tight harmonies and creative rhythms common to both, the subject matter of the songs varies widely.
So I’ve found myself explaining a lot of things I didn’t expect to have to talk about with a person who is almost six. Last week in the car we listened to one cd that includes the song “Patchwork Quilt” about the AIDS quilt. Zoe asked me what it was about. So I tried to explain AIDS and the AIDS quilt. There were other songs about injustice, racism, rape, human rights, and all kinds of juicy stuff like that. I tried to explain what “This Is a Mean World” was about. And there were more questions I wasn’t even sure how to approach. I don’t like to lie to Zoe. I don’t like to be evasive. But I also don’t want to go too deep or too far or say too much. I don’t think she or I could handle it. So I cover the basics and leave it at that. She usually listens to what I say and then is quiet. I don’t know if she’s reflecting or she’s just moved on. Then if we’re lucky, an African song with a great beat will come on and she’ll ask me to turn it up and start it from the beginning. Then I can reflect on injustice, human rights, death, and why the world is the way it is.
It’s been a long, stressful week for us. Zoe was home from school with a horrible virus for four days. Randy started a new job–which is great–but of course mentally exhausting and physically draining with new things to learn and new routines and a new commute. I am 35 weeks pregnant and continue to be generally a mess. AND we turned our house upside down in an effort to rearrange our rooms so Zoe and the baby will have a larger room to share and my office, which was in the larger room, moves to the room Zoe was inhabiting. This sounded so relatively simple when we planned it out. Randy even created the computer model of the rooms and the furniture so we could make sure everything would fit where we needed it to go. But of course the computer model doesn’t include all the STUFF that is everywhere, and we had to haul boxes and boxes of junk downstairs and into our bedroom and all over the place in order to accomplish this feat. It’s still not done. But it’s getting there.
All this is to say that we were all dragging a little today. Zoe and I went to church, though, and midway through the service, she asked if she could lie down on the pew. She put her head on my leg and fell asleep. Zoe LOVES church. She begs to go. So I knew if she wanted to sleep that she really needed to sleep. So she slept through the sermon and the last hymn and the benediction. Her favorite part of the service is usually the music after the benediction. So I gently nudged her awake so she could hear the song. Today’s musicians were All Souls’ jazz artist in resident, Rochelle Rice, who has a fantastic voice and beautiful presence, and an amazing jazz combo backing her up. They performed an inspirational interpretation of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which was soul stirring. We were sitting up in the balcony and I stood up to clap and sway along, as did many others. Next to me, Zoe had a big brown bear in a yellow sundress that she brought to church because she made her yesterday at a Build-a-Bear Workshop birthday party. She had her bear dancing and clapping along on the balcony as well.
After the service a man I’d never met before came up to us and introduced himself. He said he and his family were sitting across the church in the other balcony and loved seeing Zoe and her dancing bear. “It was the most inspirational thing!” he said. He seemed so happy that Zoe and her bear had been dancing. Then we went downstairs to use the bathroom and two other people we passed exclaimed, “I saw your bear dancing!” as if it had been a Palm Sunday miracle. I was amused. I forget how visible we are in the balcony. But it made me happy that Zoe woke up in time to enjoy the last song with me and that she and her bear brought some sunshine into other people’s morning.