Tuesday, February 23, 2016


In recent days, I've been reading a book to Snowdrop called Yoo-hoo, Ladybug, where the goal is to find on each page the elusive polka-dotted bug. Picture a Waldo-like experience, only for a toddler set of eyes.

As I tried to imagine how she sees the page, it struck me that we all approach an image with a different focus. Take this morning's breakfast photo.

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For many of you, it's a fast forward: same old stuff. Someone once commented that Ed eating oatmeal is as ordinary as life gets, never mind that at the time, Ed almost never ate oatmeal. For me, of course, there's the magic of the entirety (every day a beautiful beginning...), and then there is the color of the berries, the flowers, the Polish red rooster -- so important for tired-with-February eyes! On some days I look at the photo and think -- my but that orchid never gives up! On other days I'm amused -- I sure do zip through a jar of honey quickly enough.

For Snowdrop, a page in the ladybug book is as rich as can be: it has now recognizable characters -- there's a penguin in there, of all things! And it has new elements that she has yet to discover. For another kid -- eh, it's all in the search. Once the bug is identified, it becomes like Ed eating oatmeal (no, no, no, dear child -- look again! There's so much you're letting fly by you! It's not just about the ladybug!).

The different eyes, different perceptions thing -- it's not only in the visuals that accost us. This morning, for example, I felt compelled to flag for Ed the story in the NYTimes about how society pays for when women's work is unpaid. (This one here, in case you're curious.) He said -- yes, I know, I read it. I've said before how keeping women out of the workplace is a terribly wasteful way to proceed.
That's not the point, or at least not the only point! -- I retorted, reminding him that at the moment, a great bulk of my waking hours are spent on unpaid work (and this would be true even if I didn't choose to be with Snowdrop). I saw in the article the recognition that devaluing certain work, typically woman's work, hurts the relationships that emerge. For a guy like Ed who has functioned in a world of machinist men (almost exclusively men) all his life, this would not strike him as particularly important.

Same article, different ideas flew out at us.

And so when I finally make my way to Snowdrop's, I keep coming back to this idea -- how does she think about her world? What does she get out of reading a book five times in a row? How solid are her images? Do they change in the course of a week? A day?

Here she is, greeting me with a run and a grin.

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There happen to be balloons in her home. I "hide" behind them. She dances and giggles and "finds" me behind the strings.

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A romp usually does tire her out eventually and I suggest a walk. She clutches her cap and happily trots to her snowsuit.

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We stop at the usual cafe. Perhaps it's a mistake to pop into this shop on so many of our walks, but on February days, it's such a welcome warm-up place. And it's an opportunity for me to make her more aware of the concepts of calm. Of being patient. Of waiting. Of being properly responsive to the demands of a different environment.

I don't bother with the high chair today and she sits for a whole three minutes, happy with the few crumbs of scone I allot to her. She doesn't want to explore -- I'm thinking I chose shoes that are already too tight for her, though though that's just a guess -- but she takes in everything. In her own way -- a way that I cannot fully understand.

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And that's okay. So long as we understand that someone comes into the picture with a different perspective. You may like the hidden ladybug. Someone may prefer marveling at the different and unique images on the same canvas.