First: The kids and I were riding in the car the other day and to pass the time, Michaela read a story from the Highlights Magazine to us. (Ohhhh, Highlights: how I love you, with your Hidden Pictures and Thinking questions and bite-sized stories. I love every page. Even the weird Timber people. And Goofus and Gallant! They were moral barometers for my whole childhood! Gallant always so genteel and people-pleasing and uptight, with his smoothed down side-parted hair, and Goofus was the rebel with the mussed hair who didn't care what the hell anyone else thought, he did what HE WANTED TO DO and all others be damned. SO exhilarating to read about someone so callous to the rules. Years after Brian and I outgrew Highlights magazine, our family made up horrifyingly extreme Goofus and Gallant comparisons and always laughed at the obviousness of them- Goofus smokes crack with homeless people, while Gallant serves them a hot lunch. Of course, don't you think his parents set him up a bit by naming him Goofus? Did they discipline him? Say, "Goofus, what are we going to DO with you?" They always looked so shocked in the vignettes at his bad behavior. Did they see the pattern? Even I at six years old knew that Goofus was bad news, he was always going to screw something up, but his parents, who certainly saw him more than my once-a-month encounters, didn't seem to supervise him very well. But I digress. When I was a kid and my mom went through the Highlights magazine with me, besides the wonderful cozy feeling of being together, my favorite memory of the experience is my mom very proudly telling me, with great confidence, that I was a way better artist than all the kids who had submitted work. And if there was a particularly good piece of artwork published, she scoffed at the idea that the artist was the age they stated. "No 8-year-old could draw THAT!" she would huff. "Besides, you could draw ten times better than that." My mom is by far my greatest cheerleader.)
So the story was about two brothers going on a long car trip, and the younger brother had broken a toy of the older brother's earlier in the week. The older brother didn't want any other of his things ruined, so he placed a long strip of blue tape down the middle of the backseat of the car, separating the boys and their toys. Of course, after a while, the boys get bored in the car and realize that sharing their toys not only is fun, it makes the car ride go so much faster. It was really cute.
So we're all Awwwww...ing about the story and Jenna, without missing a beat, very helpfully says, "You know, Mimi, WE should put a line of tape down the middle of our backseat like the boys did!" And Michaela and I crack up and gently explain that the whole point of the story is to show that playing together and sharing really works best.
"Ohhhhhhh!" Jenna smiles and giggles.
Second: Jenna has been waking up for the last week or so and sneezing an insane amount. Like fifteen or twenty times. And it starts this elaborate routine of coming into our room, wiping her nose, stepping on the pedal garbage can, sneezing again, getting more tissues, wiping her nose, stepping on the garbage can, and sneezing again. It's quite painful to listen to. She refuses to blow her nose ("Because I don't know HOW!" Really?) and just waits for huge candlesticks of snot to shoot from her nose, drip down her nightgown and then she starts to panic. And sneeze some more. It takes a good twenty minutes to go through the whole process.
She insists that she is getting a cold, which she is not, and I finally told her that I think it is allergies of some kind because it is only for a few minutes in the morning and just started happening. "Something is bothering your nose in the morning," I told her. "It could be anything: grass or dust or a certain flower that is blooming."
"I think I know what it is," she told me. "I think I am allergic to turning the TV on and then walking away from it and not watching it. That makes me sneeze."
"Well, I don't think that's quite it," I say gently. "It's usually something in nature or outside that irritates you."
Jenna thinks about this for awhile and then has one more guess:
"Well, I also think I'm allergic to talking to people for a long time."
And I laugh and laugh, because talking to people for a long time has clearly irritated her since birth.