I’m just kidding. Probably Sadie will, eventually, have a day-in-the-life video on our YouTube channel, just like her big sister and brother have had. Probably Sadie will, eventually, have a little spotlight on her. But it didn’t happen yesterday, and it isn’t happening today. Because she’s three years old and she’s driving everybody crazy.
We stayed up to watch falling stars this weekend. The Perseid meteor shower is one of my favorite memories of summers gone by, and it just keeps happening. We keep on floating along, on this giant rock in space — this earth — and keep passing through this other pile of space rocks, every summer, and it lights up the sky like free fireworks. I’m not a kid anymore and otherwise the world seems to be pretty much a mess. But there it is, again, the Perseid meteor shower. There it is, again, this chance to stop everything, and lie down and look up and strain our eyes for magic.
These are my excuses for insisting that my whole family stay up until after midnight, which is a very, very late night for little children. We haven’t at all recovered. Everybody’s fragile from it. You could just look at someone wrong and they’d burst into tears. Except for me, of course. I don’t cry. I just drink too much coffee and forget things and threaten to the goats that if they don’t behave I’m going to stop feeding them.
We’re all bumping into each other anyway. First we outgrew our little yurt. And then we double outgrew it, because the dream house is rapidly becoming an actual house and then we had to get more stuff to fill it. We never did spring clean the yurt — not in the spring and not after the spring — because all our to-do lists are so long and we’re moving anyway. So the hollows are stacking up with cardboard boxes, bulk foods, canning supplies, and for some reason a lot of shoes.
I’ve been reading Little House on the Prairie to the kids at night, because we were recently gifted a copy, and although Nick and I are more than familiar with those books from years gone by the kids had never even really heard of them. Turns out it’s beautiful. Did you remember what beautiful writing there is in that book? But also it’s a bit heavier than Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
I love the way my mother said, in the older edition of her book on simple, country living, that we should remember our grandmothers only washed their clothes once a month, and kids got sewn into their long underwear for the entire winter, so don’t get too excited and try to do everything. Sometimes that advice seems cogent and sensible, other times it makes me want to fall off my chair laughing. Times change, and people (like me) really have no idea what is or isn’t sensible.
But that’s another story. I was just telling you that our sweet little three-year-old hasn’t been particularly sweet.
It’s time now, for shorter days. It’s time for more structure. We’ll start up a school schedule again, which really means that mom will pay attention enough to structure the kids’ days. I mean, more than just by three meals and every once in a while we go somewhere.
Our busy summer needs to end the way all summers end, with the kind of discipline that comes from mental focus. This is the innate, permanent, human-nature part of fall “back to school.” This is the part of the earth’s swing when the loose, thrown wide energy of summer begins to be gathered in.
Sadie’s coming to school, too. It has always been my rule that a kid who is old enough to throw a terrible three-year-old tantrum is also old enough to learn to read. We sat in the rocking chair a bit, with The Cat in the Hat, and A Fly Went By, and my sweet-faced Sadie came back for a while. I am not going to be able to fight her into learning anything. Not this one, and not this early, anyway. My only hope is to show her how to make the letters into words and hope she’ll catch the love of it.
It’s funny, I have these two passions: for the life of the mind and the life of the homestead wife. So often I’ve thought they were in conflict. So often I’ve thought they were even two different kinds of people. But that’s nonsense. There’s no better place to read and think and get drunk on the sheer beauty of words than a wide open prairie…or the quiet woods. There’s no better place to sharpen the mind than under the full breadth of the sky. It just takes a little push.
Or at least, it takes not keeping little children up past midnight. Maybe just a little bit of sense, enough to bring the extremes of summer a bit more into balance.
I wish you all something sensible this week, whatever that might be. I wish you the kind of “simple life” that is somewhere between too easy and sewing yourself into long underwear for the entire winter. I wish you enough discipline to wake up your mind and enough rest so you aren’t unnecessarily grumpy with your goats.
With love from the yurt (for a few months longer),