I almost gave myself an asthma attack earlier. Dancing. I had let Sadie borrow my Kindle, and she somehow started the music player– playing a song I hadn’t heard in years, that I didn’t know I still had on any device, that used to be the one song I couldn’t resist dancing to. And so, seeing this as a good opportunity, I got up and brought Sadie and her dad into the living room, and we all danced. Sadie kept at it the longest, because she is three, and Jeremy and I are out of shape.
I have dated men with kids before, but I have never met the kids in question. I have certainly never lived with them. I think the last time I lived with a toddler was when I was an infant. I have fancied myself good with kids, other people’s kids, for up to a few hours at a time, but I’ve never had to deal with the tantrums, the bathroom trips, carseats, the messes, the discipline. It’s always been someone else’s problem, and nothing I had to concern myself with.
But now there’s this living, breathing, peeing three-year-old IN MY HOME. When she cries, my heart breaks. When she laughs, I laugh too. I don’t know how to be friends with a little kid, but I’m learning fast, and she seems to like me just fine. Which, of course, makes me adore her.
I remember some things about being that small. Being around Sadie, I’m remembering a lot more. Her father is more patient than I am. I am not particularly good at calmly telling her not to scream in my car, not to torture the cat, not to fling her food when she’s supposed to be eating it. Jeremy is endlessly patient both with her and with me being completely inexperienced when it comes to how to deal with a child.
I am reassured to know that he has no idea what he’s doing, either. But he does a good job. And for the three days a week that she’s here, I have the opportunity to learn a lot from someone who hasn’t had time to become cynical or jaded, who is herself still learning about the world, who likes to dance and sing and draw and– really, all the things I love to do, things that I should do more. Tonight I played a bunch of Sesame Street videos for her, and while she found them interesting for a few minutes, Jeremy and I were entranced. Having a kid around reminds me of what it was like to feel real and unabashed joy, and makes me want to pursue the things that make me feel that way.
So she has things to teach me. I am also trying to teach her some important lessons– mostly about the inherent meaningless of a human life in a cold and uncaring universe, the concept of entropy, and the word “chillax.” I think I’m probably learning more than she is. But I’ll keep at it.