a needed day

If God hadn’t rested on Sunday, He would have had time to finish the world.

~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Good Lord, I needed Sunday.

I needed it to get done at least two thousand of the three thousand things on my list. I’m a working mom. Sundays are pretty much all I’ve got.

I needed it to take Katie out to the one store that I found that has the RIGHT Ernie doll in stock – the one that she HAS to get for Brooke for Christmas. I needed it to run to the craft store to get the flower for Jesus’ suspenders. I needed it to get some exercise – to sneak in a quick holy hell the scale said what?? run. I needed it to finish the invitations to the Building Assistants’ Appreciation Luncheon for Inclusive Schools Week. I needed it to head to Target to find favors to give to the aides at said luncheon. I needed it to visit a dear friend with whom I’ve had plans go awry for the past three Sundays running. I needed it to find a piece of the gift that I’m trying to put together for oh my God I’m seriously running out of time before Luau’s upcoming birthday. I needed it to find comfy pants that actually FIT the girls. I needed it to get all the way out to Home Goods in search of those perfect (and CHEAP!) sterling silver picture frames that show up as often as Hailey’s Comet why? because they’re perfect and cheap. I needed it to run over to the bakery that makes my aunt’s favorite chocolate dipped macaroons to see if it’s not too late pretty, pretty please to order them to bring to her house for Thanksgiving. I needed it to find a hair-dryer for the guest bathroom. I needed it to craft e-mails to the Inclusion Committee’s newly formed sub-committees. I needed it to FINALLY clean out my closet and actually find the chair under the clothing therein. I needed it to organize any one of the twelve piles on my night stand. I needed it to run to Staples for pencil top erasers for the girls. I needed it to find something even remotely close to the perfect Christmas gifts for the remaining fourteen teachers/ therapists/ aides and specialists on my list that work with my kids every day. December is going to evaporate before my eyes this year. I HAVE to do this now. There is NO time in December.

I needed Sunday.

But Sunday had very different plans for me than I had for it.

Little miss Brooke was under the weather. She was in great spirits, but she wasn’t herself. She’d been running a fever since the night before. The little girl who never, ever, EVER stops moving had quite suddenly turned into a lump on a log. In the middle of dinner, she asked me to cuddle with her ‘in the big chair’ in our den. I told her I’d be happy to join her there as soon as I was done with dinner. She asked again. And again. And again. And .. well, you’ve all seen this movie before. And then the child with her father’s furnace-like metabolism asked if she could ‘get warm.’

I knew something wasn’t right.

I abandoned dinner and went to sit with her in the big chair. She asked to ‘go into green world’ – short-hand for ‘hide under the green blanket together.’ We did. Typically, green world lasts about thirty-five seconds at a clip. She goes in long enough to say, “We’re in green world,” comes out, runs a circle clear around the room, nose dives back onto the chair and starts anew. On Saturday night, she stayed quietly curled under the blanket for so long that I continually held it up to make sure that she could breathe. Nearly half an hour went by with her curled contentedly under the blanket ‘to get warm.’ That’s not my kid.

I started a fire and curled back up with her in the chair. Katie came in when she finished her dinner and we all settled in to watch Alice in Wonderland on DVD. Brooke didn’t move from my lap. The child who never, ever stops moving was curled like a cat in the sun. She was going nowhere. Throughout an ENTIRE movie that wasn’t Godspell, she clung to me, emitting heat like a tiny little pot belly stove. We melded into one another and for the first time in YEARS, we BOTH fell asleep. And as we slept, someone somewhere took a big red pen to my to-do list for the next day.

In place of running and running and running was a whole lot of not moving at all. We didn’t get out of our PJs til noon. We curled under the covers in my room and counted planets with the Little Einsteins. We acted out Elmo’s World with her stuffed animals. We made costumes out of no more than paper, markers, tape and imagination. We pretended to be the Wonder Pets, saving poor Linny from the top of the school house in the rain. We brought Ming Ming to the doctor when she bumped her heel saving Linny. We made peanut butter sandwiches and ate them in costume while singing “This is Serious.” We colored. We made Play-Doh stars. We colored some more. We watched Godspell again and tried to sing along to ‘It’s all for the best.” We sat by the fire and spelled out words from a bag of stuffed letters. We cuddled and stared into space. Brooke dressed up in her favorite princess dress, accessorized with a sparkly hat and shoes. She wore them nearly all day.

And then we went on the day’s only mission.

“Mama, where is the Kiki book?”

Oy. No idea.

We looked and we looked and we looked. Her bedroom, the playroom, the bathroom, the den. We came up dry.

We looked some more. Katie’s room, my room, the office. We came up empty handed again. If that damned book was in that house, it didn’t want to be found.

I asked if she’d like to go out to the bookstore or the library and see if we might be able to find another one. She was going nowhere.

She asked if we could find Kiki on TV. We went online to see what we could find. My child is nothing if not consistent – it turns out that Kiki is such a minor character in Dragon Tales that she’s not even mentioned on the PBS website. However, according to a page I found in a Sesame Workshop Press Kit (yes, really – if you’ve ever been around a perseverative child, the preceding part of this sentence will not shock you)  she is apparently one of Cassie the Dragon’s seventy-two brothers and sisters. I’d write fiction, but I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up. Anyway, our search for Kiki led us to find one nine minute clip on Youtube from one of the rare episodes in which she was actually featured. Brooke quickly lost interest in the show.

I made one last ditch effort to find the book and failed miserably. But this time I had an idea. I grabbed a pencil with a big eraser and headed  back to the computer. I went back to the Press Kit to find a picture of Kiki. With Brooke on my lap, I began to slowly copy the image on the screen onto a piece of paper. The child who never, ever, EVER stops moving sat on my lap for nearly an hour as I painstakingly tried to draw both Kiki and, by request her brother Finn. I am not an artist. Typically, I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. Katie thinks it’s funny when I try to draw an animal – any animal. She says they all look the same. But I was determined. My kid wanted Kiki.

I erased as much as I drew, trying desperately to follow the image on the screen. I wasn’t trying to draw the pictures – just the lines within the pictures. One line at a time. Brooke directed me. “She needs a face now. She only has one foot; that’s silly.” Once I finally had them both drawn, she handed me colored pencils one by one and told me where to use each color. Once they were colored to her satisfaction, I put the finished drawings between two sheets of contact laminating paper and then cut them down to size. I decided that they were probably the best work I’ve done – on anything – in  months.

I handed them to Brooke and she downright beamed at them. “I have Kiki,” she said. And with that she headed off to the den with a happy stimmy squeal. She laid them out on the floor in front of the fire, huddled under her blanket and stared at them. She didn’t let go of ‘her guys’ the entire rest of the day. I had to convince her to leave them on her night table at bedtime.

I was over the moon.

Sunday wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. The to-do list I’d started the day with remains undone. But a different to-do list was seen to completion. One that was much more pressing than any single item on its predecessor. And one that was far more productive than the Sunday I thought I needed.

As it turned out, I had exactly the Sunday that I needed after all.

25 thoughts on “a needed day

  1. I know this is going to sound unachievable but I try to make every Sunday absolutely quiet and (here is where it gets tough) with ZIPPO trips to a store. This was not my crazy idea but I got it from my church retreat last October (you know the retreat that is inconveniently scheduled on the Boston Autism walk every year). Anyway, last year’s retreat was about honoring the Sabbath Jewish style. None of us knew much about it. But our pastor broughts articles about it, we talked about it and then we made some challenges to each other. I decided to give it a try and make Sunday about attending Church and then relaxing with family and friends only. It took some practice because it makes Saturday INSANE and I found it hard the first few months to politely RSVP “no” to every birthday party invitation for a Sunday party. But then I got into – mostly because I was shocked by how much it impacted our family life. To have a day where there is no RUNNING. Now even my kids get into it and I find that most Sundays the car stays put in the driveway once we return from Church. Anyway, I raise it as a thought only because I know how you run, run, run like I do and it can beat you up badly. This has been a life changer for me so I offer it up to you and everyone else on the treadmill.

  2. Great day, Jess! You both needed that. Great job on Kiki and Finn, too! You don’t remember but you were like that every time you had a fever. You would just snuggle in my arms all day and never move. That wasn’t the usual “you” either. Other than the fact that you were teething or sick, I absolutely loved those days.


  3. My dearest Jessica,
    What you did Sunday is what every incredibly wonderful and sensitive parent should do. We have them for only a very short time before they go out into the world to be impacted by it. There is only just so little time to mold the clay,and to imprint the personality, and you and Luau are the best that Brooke and Katie could ever have for that. She learned so very much by “your” Sunday that could never be taught anywhere else but in her Mama’s loving arms. That’s your job and you are an expert at it.
    Love you,

  4. It’s so funny. You describe Brooke as the one who never stops moving, but what has struck me about you is, uh, well, dear –

    neither do you.

    Good job, Mama. Sounds divine. I need a day like that.

    Or six.

    P.S. Hope B is feeling much, much better.

  5. “And as we slept, someone somewhere took a big red pen to my to-do list for the next day.” Take an A.

    BTW, love the part of any parent with a perseverative child knows…

    Oh, and BTW, I had to sing in high school, “It’s All for the Best.” Still know all the (complicated) lyrics by heart. : )

    • “SOMEone’s got to be oppressed!” Can’t hear that song even in my head without the tap-dance taps in the right places…

      Jess, what an amazing Sunday, and the account of it as well. Gifted mothering and gifted storytelling, what could be better? (complete with a dash of previously-untapped Kiki-drawing gifts…)

  6. It would have been so hard for me to stop thinking about the monster of unfinished business that was waiting for me in that situation. I have nothing but respect & admiration for you. And I am very impressed by your drawings! I never would have thought to do that – I have photoshop so I’d screen capture it and resize/erase the background, then print it out. Your way has lots more love. 🙂

    XO R

    • rhm – matt did just that today for the rest of the friends .. she now has a complete set. my sanity is grateful that she still likes kiki best 🙂

  7. Those dragons are awesome! WOW!
    I’m so glad you had a special day with your girl. You were exactly where you needed to be. It’s sad when they get sick, but like you, I’m so happy to have that quiet time when them. I love how attentive you are to Katie and Brooke.

    It was a peaceful Sunday! Thank you for sending your wonderful husband over to put down the rug and put up our Christmas tree and indulge Hope for a while. Your family is so dear to me.

  8. WOW! I am so impressed on many fronts, but the end artistic result!? Unbeleivable. The artistic gene skipped me, so I need to say “WOW!” again! As for your Sunday, sounds like the perfect way to sepend your day off. xoxoxo

  9. Wow. Unbelievably good job on Kiki and Finn. Kiki and Finn by Mom…no wonder she didn’t want to let them go. She’ll never forget the time you took to make them. Both your kids will remember a mom that made time for them. That is priceless. Wish I had been such a good mom as you when mine was small. I was a horrible playmate for the most part.

    And I’m so glad you got to fall asleep together. I remember nothing being sweeter.

    Wish I could fly up and do all your errands for you.

  10. Sometimes the best days are the days we don’t plan, they are the ones that just happen. They are impossible to force so when they do happen just sit back and enjoy every moment.

  11. Hi Jess,

    I’m here from Carrie’s blog, and so glad I found you. You pulled me right into your world in the first sentence, and I’m so exhausted from your list I can hardly type. I love the direction your Sunday took. I look forward to reading more.

  12. Hope the little peanut is feeling better by now! This reminds me so much of Riley. We still have a hand drawn Barkyardigan’s poster which I made because she fell in love with them before the merchandise came out. To the ends of the earth…right?

  13. Yes, how all my lists that I make in my head seem to disappear. Christmas shopping? Forget it. Haven’t started. Laundry? Just keeps piling up. Cleaning? Oh, my stars, my house is an embarrasment. But the one list that really matters? You’ve got checkmarks all over that one, hon! xo

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