Wednesday, April 02, 2008

White Binder

I know I would be severely remiss in my recording of memorable mothering moments if I did not note that the past weekend has been “The Weekend In Which J Comes Into A Binder”. What is the big deal with a binder one may ask and rightly so. So did I.

For many weeks now, J has been asking me variations of two questions “Can I have a binder ?” and “When can I have a binder ?” I think my initial response was “Remind me the next time we are in the store”. Needless to say, neither of us remembered when it counted. But the binder would come to haunt J right after we returned from the store.

She knows nothing irritates me quite as much as having to listen or repeat the same thing over and over. In this household, once is almost always enough. If J needs something and asks for it, she can expect to hear “Yes”, “Never” or the much dreaded “I can’t say right now. Let’s talk about it some other time”.

The last one is tricky. By keeping the deal open-ended, J is forced to revisit the issue and “repeat” her request. Yet there is clearly an injunction against it. What’s a kid to do with a mother who speaks out of both sides of her mouth ? Thankfully, I can trust the intrepid J to repeat herself until she is heard but in very creative ways - she knows, unless I’ve said a categorical “No” the answer is an “Yes” only gratification will be delayed, not instant.

She will fall silent in the middle of an animated conversation and look rather pensive. Naturally, I will ask her what’s wrong. She’ll say nothing is but continue to look woebegone. I will grow anxious ask to know what she is thinking about and she will say “It’s about something that I am not supposed to talk about”.

Having forgotten all about our “let’s talk about it some other time” conversation, I will insist that she share whatever it is with me. “You promise not to be mad at me ?” she will ask with uncharacteristic timidity. At this point, I will promise anything so she can get what's bothering her off her chest and go back to being her usual cheerful self. “Of course, I won’t be mad. Just tell me” I will say. “Well, I am thinking about the binder” J will say very quietly.

And that is how, I was reminded about the binder on Friday evening and I promised I would buy her one the next day if she did not mention the word binder again for the rest of the evening. This is necessary because saying “Yes” to something is never the last you hear about it.

J will let out a squeal of delight, clamber up on me to give me a “tree hug”, write me elaborate thank you notes, exclaim “Thank you, Mommy !! You are the best Mommy in the whole wide world”, break into a jig and that’s just the beginning of the celebration. All this affirmation gets to be overwhelming when I am trying to take care of the mundane business of life – dinner, dishes, bills, errands, mail, laundry and the like. So J held her peace. The next morning we went to the store and picked up a white binder.

For the rest of the weekend, J decorated her binder, told me of her plans for it the next week, month and year. A table of contents and a construction paper charm were made. The binder stayed within six inches or less or her at all times. J will now be able to file all the papers that are important to her in the binder just like the big kids do and her friend B does.

She is thrilled to imagine the possibilities and how she could personalize her binder with her own artwork. Whenever I see J delight in such small things, I pray to God to always keep that special spark in her alive.


Anonymous said...

Read your posts everyday and enjoy it. You write well.
Your post seems so much of a coincidence!! Over the weekend brought my 6 year old daughter, her very first binder and she seemed to be as thrilled as you describe J. Must be a 6 year old thing!!!


Heartcrossings said...

Thanks for stopping by. Binders and 6 year old girls - What an interesting coincidence !