Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hey, look at this!

The afternoon walk home from gan. How I loathe it. Shuffling two preschoolers and a toddler the few short blocks to our home under the unforgiving midday sun seems to take forever. It’s right at B.A.’s naptime, so he’s cranky. But at least he’s in a stroller. The girls dawdle, insist on stopping to climb everything.  And the hour grows later and the day gets hotter.

Last week, Y.B. just stopped and refused to walk. She was tired. It was hot. This wasn’t the first time one of them tried this. On this particular afternoon, I dug in my heels and found myself engaged in a game of chicken with a four-year-old.

She stood with her arms folded and her chin out, staring slightly off to the side of my face. I waited in the shade with the other children, narrowing my eyes at her. Who would cave first? Would I walk back to her and march her home, howling? Or would she get tired and run back to me?

I gave in. I clamped my hand around her shoulder and started for home, pushing B.A.’s stroller with my other hand. At least A.N. was just regular-slow today, not defiant-slow.

I was desperate for something that would motivate them to walk.

“Hey, look at this!” I exclaimed with forced cheer, gesturing to a target several feet in front of us. “Grape vines growing on a chain-link fence! Let’s see if the grapes are ripe yet.”

They ran (ran!) to the fence to check out the grapes, and I had found my solution. The rest of the walk home, we took turns finding things to remark on and point out to each other.

“Hey, look at this!”


A flag in a window. Cherry tomatoes spoiling on the bottom of a bicycle’s basket. A dog on a roof. A mural. Our neighborhood is a sleepy, patched-together stone village in the midst of the city center. We found a wealth of delights.

A vision of my neighborhood by local artist
Chana Rosenberg

The next morning, we strolled along in the early-day cool that makes a Jerusalem summer bearable, even delicious. We played the game with newly-woken eyes.

Plastic forks planted in a window box. A tractor. Bright-pink bougainvillaea. A man greeting the streetcats by a water cistern.

Everything seemed to be appearing before us in that moment, the world created anew with all its details. We raced along. I dropped B.A. off at the babysitter, then said goodbye to the girls at gan—“Another hug! A pick-up hug! When your back feels better, I want a pick-up hug.”

I continued back home alone.

The municipal gardener singing as he pruned the hedges. Death announcements and daycare advertisements pasted to a building’s side. Pinecones hanging from a balcony. Mothers and children pushing their way to school as the day heated up.

Hey, look at this. Look at this.

6 comments: said...

loved this so much, brought tears to my eyes. I also loved that I also go on those "look at this!" walks with my kids-- by the dogs on the roof and the upside down forks in the plant pots. thanks chaya...

Chana Helen said...

B"H I love this article - it says everything in words that I try to express in my art work. Thank you for using my picture, Chaya! This painting is the profile picture for my Face Book page 'Nachlaot Art' /Nachlaot-Art-Chana-Helen/159848064079795 You may want to join me on it!

Chana Helen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Idit said...

I used to use this game, but she caught on pretty quickly, and now it has to be something *super* interesting to get her to move. C is also such a dawdler...any other tips as you come upon them = greatly, greatly, appreciated. I usually just make myself remember that it's fun being a kid, dawdling, and anyway why am I in such a rush? ....Except that it's hot, and I'm sort of a cranky adult in the heat...

Malka Shaw, LCSW said...

You go girl!

Miss you! and the little ones!


PS all our girls are big four year olds- how did that happen?

Chaya said...

Idit, dawdling is a cool-weather activity, as far as I'm concerned. If C isn't impressed by "Look! A red mailbox!" anymore, maybe you can move on to something more sophisticated, like I Spy.

And I like to reserve the threat of "marching" them, which is that if they don't walk by themselves or holding the stroller, I grip them loosely around the shoulder and march them along. They dislike this, obviously, so it's sometimes enough to motivate them to keep moving.

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