Wednesday, June 30, 2010


A few months ago, while I was in Germany visiting family, I spent an afternoon with my cousin and her adorably gorgeous 1-year-old. She had been home with him for the first year, but had recently started studying again, so her son was spending days in daycare while she hit the books.

She told me how, after that first day away from him, when she picked him up from daycare, she could tell that he had changed. In those few hours she had been away, he had had experiences, had learned things that she wasn't there to witness, had been alive and grown and developed. This difference in her son was obvious to her, the fact that he was older and more worldly. She told me she had this same sensation often when she picked him up from daycare. In contrast to the first year of his life, during which she spent every moment with him, observing and being a part of every little triumph and setback, she now had the opportunity to gain perspective and see her son at intervals. Even if those intervals were only for a few hours.

[Carrot plants]

I didn't quite buy it. A day is just a day, I thought. People, even babies, don't change that fast. I thought, my cousin is sweet who is that attached to her son, but surely there was no true visible change in him after a single day apart. It was an appealing notion, but I wasn't convinced that's the way the world works.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This is London

I was three years old the first time I was in London.

I have two memories of this trip that I'm certain are my own. One of them is very vague. It's of my mom holding me and pointing at a big clock (Ben) and me going, "That's it?". The other is of a very shy me whispering in my mom's ear that I want french fries, while a waitress hovers by our table. My mom tells me I can order from the waitress myself, but that I should ask for chips. "But I don't want chips," I say, "I want french fries."

There are other memories of that trip that are not my own, stories that have been told time and time again, so often that I've created images and feelings to go with them. One of these is of the three of us, my mom, my brother, and me, just having arrived on a plane from the US, sitting on the tube together, one kid on each side of mom, holding onto her and taking in this strange new place. My brother, then an avid PBS viewer, also at night when the British BBC would come on the channel, looks around for a while at this and that, the people around us, then turns to my mother, and goes, "Mom, does EVERYBODY here work at the BBC?", figuring that talking the Queen's English was something you learned on the job.

Oh, children can be so sweet when they haven't got a clue.

[Pasteis de nata: more on this below!]