We're doing a lot of spelling around here. S has decided that she's a writer. Naturally. The other day she came home from a birthday party with a goodie bag that contained enough candy to keep her awake until she's 7, as well as a small notebook and a pencil. She spent the better part of an hour scribbling doodles in the pages. "Mommie, I'm writing," she said to me and I felt a swell of pride. Of course, that was deflated as soon as she turned to her doggies and said, "I can't play with you right now. I'm writing."
Is that a pang of guilt or am I having a heart attack?
She asks endlessly how to spell things. How do you spell boots, and carrots and cat. Then she asked how to spell dog. I was transported back to my own childhood. My parents worked and my little brother went to daycare at this little trailer park, where a woman lived with her four kids. I'm not sure how many she took care of. I think my mother paid her $30 or $35 a month to keep my brother during the day. I went over there, too, in the summers. I remember that she had a husband but he was a truck driver and therefore never around. When he was around, he was moody and withdrawn and slept a lot. The kids were two boys and two girls, all about my age. And there were several kids she cared for. Now when I think of it I don't know how she did it. The trailer was a tiny thing, two bedrooms with little more than a galley kitchen and a small front room. The kids' bedroom had two sets of bunk beds in it. I remember this woman joking with her friend one day on the phone. She had a big blonde beehive of teased hair. She was not a big woman but she was thick-waisted, and wore tight, tight clothes and heavy make up, and smoked, but everyone did back then. I think her name was Karen and she was telling her friend that her daughter was writing a birthday card to her father. The girl was asking how to spell everything. When she asked how to spell Dad, Karen had told her, "D-O-G."
So, here's Karen on the phone with her friend saying, "You wouldn't believe his face when he opened up the card and it said 'Happy Birthday Dog'."
Somehow that story is even funnier now.