Kids

I have the three most adorable younger cousins I could possibly ask for. Aged 5, 3, and 8 months, they are one of the things I will miss most during my three months away.

Today, the oldest (and most emotional) found out that I was leaving.

“No you’re not,” he said after my dad told him. I was unaware we were telling them, just sitting on the floor with the baby. “I’m gonna ask my dad.”

“I promise you, she is.”

I told him to be excited! I was going to stay in a castle! He told me castles didn’t exist, they were just pretend.

I told him I wouldn’t be gone long, and I’d be back before Christmas. Soon I got him to stop crying. He said it was OK as long as I was going in a plane instead of a car.

I love those kids so much. It hurts me to hurt them.

 

Whenever I see them, I leave either wanting to have kids immediately or never ever wanting a child, ever. I’m twenty. These feelings are probably rather natural.

I certainly don’t want a kid now. I’m too young, I’m too immature. I certainly want to be settled down with a stable job before even thinking about kids. However, a time in which I’m stable is likely not too far off.

I think being an introverted, anxiety-prone parent must be difficult. I would never get time alone, and I’d never get time to work on hobbies (or writing!). I want to travel and eat in nice restaurants and have nice clothes and sleep through the night, and it feels like kids take that away.

On the other hand, I love kids. I love teaching, I love reading to them, I love hearing their stories, I love showing them new things. I love them a lot.

I guess the deal is that I know I would be a good mother to a child. But it may not be good for me. I would give everything I have to it, but would have no energy left for myself, and I think it’s fair to not be ready for that.

Then again, what do I know? Like I said, I’m only twenty. There are probably plenty of parents and non-parents alike reading this and shaking their heads at my innocence, at my ignorance.

Ah, well. This is all a problem for Future Tina to figure out. Right now, Present Tina only has to worry about my job and preparing for Europe.

 

I really hate hurting him though. I know, little buddy, it’s hard to leave someone you love. But it’s not that long. And it will be easier than you think.

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Young intelligence

I am constantly amazed at what children can do. When I was a kid, I always got annoyed when people underestimated me, so I try not to act too surprised at children’s intelligence. Even so, it is certainly easy to assume they don’t know much.

Maybe it’s because sometimes kids do stupid stuff. When a two year old shoves a bean up his nose, it’s hard to remember that he’s pretty smart.

But then again, I do stupid stuff too. Maybe I don’t shove beans up my nose, but I still hit “reply all” or lose the phone that’s in my pocket or accidentally use body wash when I meant to use shampoo. I think that’s why it’s easy to forget that kids are smart: because I’ve lived way longer than they have and I’m still pretty stupid.

Kids are smart, though. I just learned of a boy scout troop consisting of 9 year olds that are building prosthetic hands for kids in Haiti. My five year old cousin is learning to code at preschool, and knows all the ins and outs of Minecraft. I mean, this is stuff that I’d have trouble doing!

Not to mention my two year old cousin who can navigate an iPad and even find his favorite songs, even though he can’t read.

A while ago, I did an article on babies learning sign language. They were hearing babies who were at the age where they wanted to communicate but didn’t yet have the vocal control to do so. They could learn to sign “milk” and “hungry” and “more” to their parents at 5 or 6 months old, far younger than they would be able to say the words aloud. This cut down on frustration and crying for everyone involved.

Kids are so smart. I’d love to have one of my own someday, to help them learn and grow. I have a feeling I’ll be doing far more learning than teaching.

Grown Up (Short Fic Friday)

Welcome to the first Short Fic Friday! Every week I’ll be posting a new short fiction story, due to the great response to my A to Z Challenge. Enjoy it!

 

 

Alex knelt at the tide pool, her damp knees getting coated in sand. She waved at her toddler cousin.

“Look, Sammy,” she shouted to him, sinking the heel of her right hand into the loose mud. “I think there’s a crab, or something, under this rock. See?”

Sammy wobbled up behind her, holding a red, plastic shovel he refused to let go of. “Crab?”

“Yes, a crab. I think he went under there, do you see him?” She leaned over the tepid water at far as she dared. The pool was still but teeming with creatures she had a nervous fascination with. She pressed her other hand on a rock coated with barnacles. The crevice between rocks was dark, but the water was a crystal green. There was a slight shift in the sand.

“Crab? Crab?” Sammy repeated, trying to replicate how Alex was standing. He leaned his shovel against the barnacles.

“I think so. Let me try to catch it. Can I use your shovel?”

Sammy held it out to her, but just as she was going to take it he yanked it out of her grasp. She sighed, laughing.

“You got me. Fine, you want cousin Alex to get pinched, I’ll get pinched.”

Alex swallowed. She knew she wouldn’t likely get pinched, but if she did, what would she do? Her mom was way back by the towels, and Uncle Max, Sammy’s dad, was further down the beach at a different tide pool with his older daughter. Well, whatever. No going back now. She slipped her little hand between the boulders, feeling her way around the rough barnacles. She touched sand and recoiled, then went down again, feeling along toward where the crab had escaped.

Sammy sneezed, loud and adorable. Alex smiled but kept going, not looking back.

“Nose,” Sammy said, his voice muted.

“Yeah, you sneezed, buddy. Bless you.”

“Nose!” He patted her calf insistently. Alex looked under her arm at him.

His face was covered in huge boogers, gooey green and dangling past his mouth. He looked about to cry, his head hunched over so the snot didn’t touch his chin.

“Oh, Sammy,” Alex said, then a sharp pain shot down her arm from her ring finger. She screamed and fell backward out of the tide pool and onto the sand, grabbing at her hand. Sure enough, the little crab had got her. Luckily it let go quickly, but her finger was still red and throbbing. It hurt more than when she caught it in the car door last winter.

She sucked on her finger, salty and covered in sand. Sammy was crying now, scared by her scream and cranky because of his boogers. Alex fought back her own tears, smacking sticky sand off her back, legs, and bottom. She had to be the grown up now and help Sammy. No parents were around, fine. Alex was nine, now. She could do it.

“Okay, it’s okay,” she said. “Come on, Sammy.”

They walked to the ocean together, she sucking on her finger, he hunched over and whimpering. No matter what, she did not want to touch the boogers, but she didn’t have anything else but her bathing suit. She paused at the water’s edge, looking for a seashell or something to scoop his face clean.

Sammy cried at the sand, the booger long and swinging but still hanging on. He clutched his shovel.

Alex considered holding him above the water so just his face got wet to wash it away, but then thought better of it. She put her hands on her hips, her sore finger pressing hard.

“Sammy, I need your shovel.”

“No!” he howled, gripping it with two hands.

“You can still hold onto it after; I just need it to clean the boogies.”

“No!”

Alex groaned and dropped to her knees. She took a breath, looked away, and snatched the boogers off his face with the tips of her fingers and thumb. She dunked her hand in the water and shook it furiously, then did it again, pinching his nose perhaps a bit too hard and then shaking it off her with vigor, gagging.

“Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew,” she chanted through the whole ordeal. Finally, he was clean.

He sniffled a little. Alex stood up and sucked on her finger again.

“I’m never having kids,” she told the snotty ocean.

Sammy hugged her leg tight. “Thank you!” he said, and offered her his shovel.

Alex smiled. “You’re darn cute, though,” she said, and reached for the shovel. He giggled and yanked it out of her reach.