Tuesday, September 4, 2007


If you ever wondered why I call her Monkey, behold the explanation. (Note to self: good job on saving all those pixels it would've taken to render a whole thousand words. Now try not to ramble with the rest of it.) She is off to Kindergarten in the morning. Officially a big girl. She had been saying for a bit that she is not ready to go because she will miss her teacher from preschool and her best friend from same. The friend and her family came over yesterday, and the girls had a great time. Right up until it was time to go, when the friend literally cried. Monkey obviously thought she should therefore be crying too, because clearly the crying was the measure of the friendship, in the international units of childhood devastation, I guess. She ran up to me, climbed on, and stuck her face in my shoulder. There even were some sniffles, but she couldn't make herself cry for real. Don't get me wrong-- she was plenty upset that her friend had to go, but the tears didn't come. Instead there was a bit of a smile, and an immediate attempt to hide that smile, and a bit more of a smile because she knew she was busted. Yes, she is a big girl, too big to really cry over her friend going home. And today she said she was ready and excited to go to Kindergarten.

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, as I wonder around the internets, reading the mommy blogs, I feel like I am the funny one in the bunch, calling my daughter Monkey. In my defense, this is one of her actual nicknames, stolen, ahem... appropriated from my sister as it was. But also? What else would you call a child who can spend hours on end like so:

She can also spend hours on end drawing. I think she drew her way, and to some extent ours, through the first couple of weeks after A died. For a while after she stopped drawing him. About a month ago she started again.

She draws from a place other than the one from which she speaks, and she herself sometimes seems surprised by what she comes up with. So much so that sometimes upon some consideration she even changes the description of what she says is in the picture. When she just finished this picture and declared it to be a gift for JD, I asked her to tell me what it was, although I was pretty sure I knew. It's me and my brother, she said, and mom with the baby sister in the carriage. Do you know what a wave of love, grief, and gratitude feels like? Like you can breathe the wave itself in, like you can keep breathing it in, drinking it in, becoming it. This wave, it started before I even got to ask the question, and it buoyed me for days afterwards.

By the time JD got home, though, the picture was of her and her best friend of male persuasion and then mom with the baby brother in the carriage. The sledgehammer-like subtlety of the original description is, I am sure, not lost on anyone. I wonder whether somewhere in the part of herself that can't express these things yet she didn't change that description to not put undue pressure on her parents. Which I appreciate, intentional or not. I am not sure I would deal very well with also having to explain to my daughter why there is nobody living in my tummy yet.

I will never have a picture of all my kids together. As long as I have these drawings, though, I can make myself believe that we are going to be ok.


slouching mom said...

Gorgeous post. Monkey sounds like an extraordinary child. And her drawing is wonderful.

Happy first day in K, big girl!

Beruriah said...

Oh, that picture. It leaves me without words.

I hope Monkey loves her new school. I love those photos. She looks beautiful. I wonder, too, if she changed the description for your sakes.

You know, at home I call the person in my tummy Baby Monkey, having nothing to do with your Monkey. I called Natan Baby Chicken - but that's because I call my niece and nephew Chickens due to their fondness for vegetarian chicken nuggets.

Reese said...

Beautiful post.

I love the nickname - it totally fits her!

Bon said...

sigh. lovely. lovely Monkey, lovely drawing.

makes me wistful.

and excited for Monkey, the big girl with so much in her head and her heart, who is obviously ready for kindergarten.

S. said...

She gets so much, doesn't she?

I love the white dress zooming up the climbing wall.

(Just for the record, in real life, we call Z. squiggleworm a lot.)

Anonymous said...

Those curls! Children are the most perceptive...

meg said...

I love these photos. There's so much innocence, joy and adventure.

That drawing took my breath away. I felt it before I read her description, and then even more so.

We actually refer to our dog as the monkey (hope this won't come as an insult--I love him more than 90% of my family). He's extraordinarily good at climbing over gates, getting things off the counters and even sleeps on top of his crate. And he likes to take things and run away with them, while stopping to see if you are going to chase him. Quite the sense of humor!

Julie said...

Oh, man, that drawing.

That's some monkey girl you've got there.

Lori said...

I loved seeing these pics, and getting a glimpse of your Monkey! It certainly is appropriate.

We actually call Baby Girl, Monkey-girl at times too. So you are not alone. I am actually considering changing her blog nickname sometimes soon, as she is fast leaving an age where Baby Girl is truly accurate.

Have a great year Monkey!!

Oh, and I loved the drawing. So sweet. Save it forever.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Heartbreaking and adorable all at once.

I hope the first day of kindergarten was a parade of marvels for her!