Wunderkind

I recently moved across the country in order to start a new job, and while some parts of this transition have been difficult (namely living by myself for the first time and trying to make sure I don’t choke to death alone in my apartment) it has been a rather exciting time.

Editor’s note: choking to death alone in my apartment is a legitimate fear. When I was in middle school (ok…it was college), my father instituted a rule that I could not eat dinner while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos, because I would laugh to the point of hurting myself. For real. I choked on my food and had to give myself the Heimlich maneuver…twice.

One of the harder parts of this transition has been lacking the time to write poetry. I am working full time now, and I’ve found that a busy mind with too much solitude was the ideal environment to let my imagination run obnoxiously wild. I fear that I have lost that gift for the time being, the trade-off being living the life for which I was pining. To gain one thing often means letting go of another, but I grieve the loss of late nights, fevered dreams and furrowed brows just the same.

Last week I was thrilled to see my goddaughter Ana perform as a “bonbon” in her ballet school’s production of The Nutcracker. I was even more thrilled that while she waited backstage, she used the time to pen some poetry in her mini spiral notebook.

Below are two poems written by Ana (age 8):

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I’m pretty proud to know this kid.

Attack of the Zombabies

I often suffer from terrible dreams and insomnia. Last night I had a dream where I woke from sleep (waking from sleep inside of a dream is pretty trippy) and I was covered with toddler bites, which had become infected. Then I woke up for real and spent 15 minutes in half-sleep haze, cataloging my extremities to make certain that I was not indeed attacked by zombie-babies. Distressing, yes. Weird, yes. Insightful? Hmmmm…maybe?

I’ve realized lately that my dreams can be rather telling about the roots of my anxiety. This particular dream was no doubt due to some apprehension over my interview today for a nanny position. No worries, everything seemed to go well, and I was not bitten by any toddlers. I even wore my “you-can-trust-me with-your-children” interview glasses. It’s not yet a done deal, but the family does want to proceed with a “trial run,” which always makes me feel hopeful. It has been FAR too long since I have had full-time employment. Being unemployed or underemployed sucks. It’s discouraging and draining and often seems pointless after a failed interview, especially when I felt it had gone well. Yet, I feel like I have turned a corner. Maybe it’s the warmer weather and the flowers blooming. Maybe it’s my “trust-me-glasses.” Whatever it is, I feel full of hope, that even if this one doesn’t work out, I can trust in God and not fall into a spiral of cynicism and self-doubt.

So here’s to spring-time, flowers, warm breezes, new glasses, and endless opportunities.

Cheers 🙂

skull

“But you can trust me…I’m wearing glasses.”

I would not survive a zombie apocalypse.

I love zombie movies. I mean, I loooooove them.

Then why don’t I marry one? Maybe I will, so shut up.

I have always had a somewhat morbid imagination.  As a child, after watching an episode of Unsolved Mysteries (which by the way is way more terrifying than any zombie movie and which I still refuse to watch), I became convinced that I would be murdered in my home. I took it as a given; it was only a matter of when and how.  I came up with a plan for how to defend myself in any room in my house relying only on improvisation and pure adrenaline:

The hallway – my old-fashioned red-painted gumball machine that stands about 3 feet high.
The bathroom – the back of the toilet tank.
The kitchen – knives, spatula, and cast-iron frying pan.
My bedroom – lamps. And a flat-iron, but only if it’s been plugged in.

I think my love of zombies stems from my irrational fear of being murdered but also from my irrational belief that I am STRONG ENOUGH TO WITHSTAND!! Zombie movies feed my fear of death and dismemberment but also my firm delusion that I am stronger than I really am. If I’m feeling generous towards myself, I say that it’s because they remind me of my own mortality. All of that aside, there is just something grotesquely awesome about seeing the dead and decomposing walking about. My parents are fully aware of “My Plans” and bought me this book for my birthday a few years ago.  I mean, it’s no The Zombie Survival Guide but I am sure some of the methods could be used to fight the undead:

books

Then last summer, all of my bravado came crashing down. I was watching the children of some close friends and it was a beeaautiful day!  We went outside to use the trampoline. I was calmly reading (unfortunately neither of the books previously mentioned) when I was attacked. One ambushed me from behind and wrapped her crazy, skinny, little arms around my neck. The other proceeded to try to tickle me. At first it was all fun and games, then I started to freak a bit. Like that feeling when you’re holding a butterfly and you think “Ohhhhhh, it’s so pretty!” Then you realize, “Wait, what the H am I doing?? This is just a caterpillar! that can fly at my face! get off! GET! OFF!” So I tried to fight them off.  And I realized that these kids are strong, like crazy strong.  Little boy was attempting to pile drive me, and I literally had to palm his entire face to toss him across the trampoline (for any potential employers, particularly in the area of child-care, he was totally fine, and this is not a regular activity).  But they just kept coming. Wave after wave of tickle madness, a blur of arms and legs, and manic, bugged out little eyes. Keep in mind that these are little children. Four and seven to be precise. I came to the awful and heartbreaking realization that I could not fight them off. My only hope was to surrender and face the follow-up question of “Why are you so weak?”

I knew in one soul crushing instant that I would not survive a zombie apocalypse. I would not be the chick, hiding in the basement, hoarding all the weapons. I would not be the wily one, who can lose them in the woods. I would not be the brave one on the rooftop surrounded by zombie-traps and barbed wire. Regardless of how many “How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse” quizzes I take on Facebook, I would be one of the first to die. I will find the world’s best blanket, tuck in for a nap and wait for the end. Is that morbid? I’ll give myself a little credit and say I might survive. As long as I don’t have to face the zombies on a trampoline.

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“Don’t say that!”  “What?”  That!  “What?”  The zed-word. Don’t say it!”  “Why not?”  Because it’s ridiculous!”

* For those who also LOVE Zombie movies, Zombie TV and Zombie books, check out my favs:

28 Days Later
(the not quite as good) 28 Weeks Later
Shaun of the Dead
The Cabin in the Woods
Planet Terror
[●REC]
[●REC]2
[●REC]3 Génesis – only enjoyable if you can view this as a comedy (which it was not intended to be); not consistent with the overall vibe of the first two, but ridiculous enough to be pretty darn hilarious
The Crazies
I am Legend
Zombieland
40 Days of Night – I’m thoroughly aware that this is a vampire movie, however those vamps are so terrifying I am convinced they must be a malevolent zombie-vampire hybrid: “vampies” if you will
The Walking Dead  – duh.
Game of Thrones (book series)

Looking forward to seeing:
Warm Bodies
The Evil Dead (2013)

The Craziness of a Wildest Dream

If I had a million dollars…

Ever since I was a little scrawny sassy kid, I always wanted to come from a big family. I love my family dearly. But my parents only had two daughters. I am convinced if I had come first, I would have been an only child. Not because I would have filled all their wildest parenting dreams, but simply because I was an exhausting pain in the ass. As a toddler I would sit in a corner of our hallway, which I called the “sad corner” and make up weepy country western songs or listen to Barbara Streisand’s soulful crooning on my “Soby” walk-man. We didn’t have much in the way of music, so I had to pilfer from my dad’s tape collection.  I was the four-year old master of self-pity and loneliness.  I longed for multiple bros and sissies to play with. My best friend came from a family of four kids and I was always incredibly jealous and quite lonely when our families separated after vacations.

What would I do if I had my choice to do anything in the world? Where would I go? Who would I meet? Other than the standard self-indulgent desires of traveling the world and building a beach house on my own private island, I actually do have some idea.  If I could choose anything in the world to do, even as my career, I would buy a modest yet large house. I would become a foster parent or even adoptive parent to those little ones who are trapped in the system.  I would build a home for the ones who have none. I would give love and safety to those smallest kids who have been kicked in the face and let down too early by a grownup world.  I will have naysayers. Even in just expressing this desire, I have heard a resounding chorus of concern and questions: How would you support them? It would be harder than you think. Do you really think you could ever love them as much as your own? Wouldn’t you rather just make a regular family? Shouldn’t you have a partner (ie spouse) for such a massive undertaking? You know those kids are messed up right?

Let me answer each one in turn:
* I have no idea how I would support them, which is why I started with, “If I had a million dollars…”
* I am sure it would be much harder than I could think, because I have never done this before; but isn’t anything that’s worth doing, worth overcoming the fear that might stop me?
* I don’t believe love is measured in blood lines. It is a choice to love, not an accident. More people means more love, not less.
* A chosen family is no less valuable than a procreated family.
* At this point in my life, through God’s providence, I am walking alone.  God has called me to singleness for the time being. Ideally yes, I would like to have a husband, one who loves, supports, and desires the same things that I do. Until that happens (possibly not in this life), I hope to give as much love as is in me to those who might need it.
*Yeah, they’re messed up. So are you. And so am I. Isn’t that even more of a reason to try to give them what they need, even if they might fight you for it.

This is my no-longer-secret craziest wish. It is so absolutely ridiculous.  It seems completely outside of the realm of possibility. If this is to happen, it must come from God.  On my own, I have no hope of ever being successful in seeing this accomplished. But I’ll continue to dream, to pray and to commit this desire to God. And to ask those who know me to pray with me, that this craziest of dreams might actually come true.

So here’s to 2013. May God grant you the richest He has to offer and plant His craziest desires deep in your heart. And then, may He bring the craziness of those dreams into reality.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
– Jeremiah 29:11

“Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.”
– Psalm 37:3-6

I do not have the words today to quantify my love

written more than a year ago for a little friend, but rededicated tonight to the victims of Sandy Hook, Ct

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I do not have the words today
To quantify my love.
Your innocence and charming smiles
Are echoes from above.
Stay innocent my little ones
Still run free and wild.
Kick off your sandals and wade the brook
Of youth’s gratuitous smiles.
May many angels guard you now
And ward off evil ones
Who would seek to steal your youth
With knowledge that would stun
Your curious minds and lovely hearts
Before your time has come.
Do not be impatient to grow up.
There’s grief which won’t abate.
Stay innocent my lovely ones.
This grown up world can wait.

originally written on Monday, September 5, 2011 at 2:56pm

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Come On Child

There’s a burning in the bush,
Whisper in the hush,
Quiet murmur bidding child come.
Come on child, join the train
That takes you to where all your stains
Are wept over no longer;
To a place that makes you stronger.
Come and see this burning bush
And listen hard for whispered hush.
Heat from flames that don’t consume,
Cast a light throughout the gloom
And doom of barren landscape.
Balms to heal the burns and scrapes
Of every fall and run-in.
Come on child, come in.

Toddler Whispering:101

I am a nanny. And I love my job.  I feel so fortunate to have a job that make me smile and laugh pretty much all day and I get paid to do it.  Hi five.  I was recently told by a good friend that I am the Toddler Whisperer.  The conversation went like this:

“The nanny litmus test is having two children under the age of 4 in an awesome toy-store, without destroying anything or having a temper-tantrum. Success.”

    • me – MB, I meant me not having a tantrum 🙂
    • JL – Please, I know I am lowly and unworthy, but will you teach me your ways? Pretty please?
    • me – Lol just lots of gentle reminding before we went in that we would NOT be buying any toys
    • JL – Kristin Leigh: Toddler Whisperer
    • me – Omg that is so funny cause I’ve been calling myself that in my head!
    • JL – Do you get to do the snappy Latin shush/snap/poke?! Do ya?????
    • um…yes (but don’t publicize that)

However learning toddler lingo can be an interesting experience with lots of misunderstanding so here’s the rundown:

balella – vanilla
bwown –
chocolate
pink –
strawberry
cubuzz
– because
chickennuggetandfwenchfwies – chicken nuggets and french fries
cwyingbaff – crying bath (where one cries throughout the entire bath)
Fweshbeeban – Fresh Beat Band (that one took awhile)
ishy – icky
lellow – yellow
shushi – tushy; and also sushi, which makes me think this child might need an anatomy lesson at some point, since she might think it’s all the same thing.
Shyberman – Spiderman
Tinkerella – Tinkerbell
weawy – really

And I’ve had some great conversations lately:

to mom – “H had to have a time-out today.”
Mom – “H, why did you have a time out?”
H – “Cubuzz I pushed him. I pushed him down. Hard.” Shaking her tiny head in shame.

H – “A don’t like the Muppets. A, why you don’t like the Muppets?”
Silence.
“A, why you don’t like the Muppets? why? why? why?”
A – “Listen, that’s just the way it is. Some kids like the Muppets and some don’t.”

me – “A, I want you to get in bed for a rest.”
A (standing against the wall) – “I can’t, I’m stuck.”
me – “Hmmm.”

me -“Guys, it’s time for dinner.”
A – “We can’t; we have to take Havasham to buy her car.”
me – “Who’s Havasham?”
A – “My friend. Don’t worry, she’s imaginary.”
me – “Great. Tell her it’s time for dinner.”

me – “H, did you wipe after going potty?”
H – “Yep, I wipe my shushi (see above) with Dolly’s hair.”
Blehhh. Forever. Cause Dirty Dolly’s nasty hair accidentally wound up in my mouth earlier in the week.

me – “E, I want you to come and sit down over here for the story.”
E continues playing.
I, looks at me and says – “Boy, that kid is weawy annoying.”
me – “I, that’s not nice; but yes. He is.”

me – “H, do you want some fruit with your lunch?”
H – “Fruit? So I can poop?”
Me – long awkward silence.  “Sure.”

Stay tuned. I’m sure I will have more to add to my toddler to grown-up translation guide shortly.

*this one’s for you JL

Princess Porcupine

There was a pretty princess
Once upon a time,
Who through a very nasty curse
Was turned into a porcupine.

The shrew who cast the spell
Lies and whispers hissed,
And told the princess, to be free,
All she needed was one kiss.

She wandered hills and valleys,
Towns and cities too,
Looking for a prince who had
Courageous heart, bold and true.

If he could brave her needles
And her stinging barbs,
To grant one kiss upon her lips,
She was sure that she’d be free.

Our princess searched for many years
But all to no avail;
For anyone who came too close,
Was sharply stung and turned to wail.

One day she passed a river
And leaning for a drink
She fell headfirst into the pool
And then began to sink.

But in that holy river,
Something strange occurred.
Her form began to slowly change.
That witch had lied about her curse.

Emerging from the water
On legs that she’d long missed
She looked at her new self in awe,
And saw it could not be the kiss.

It was the healing river, which
Restored her once again;
But now with some improvements,
That she had never planned.

Her quills had disappeared
Only to be replaced
With glorious wings of golden hue
To carry her from that dark place.

She shook her feathers dry,
And tested out her wings,
To circle high above the clouds.
And with the sun she now does sing.

Conversations with Smaller Ones

I am around kids. A lot.  With being a nanny, teaching Sunday school, and just hanging with my friends’ kids I have been witness to the amazing things they are capable of thinking and saying.  The more time I spend around them, the more I am convinced they are each on their own little planet, where what they do makes perfect sense to them.  Here is a collection of my favorite things that they have said (using initials to protect their integrity – or what remains of it).

***

picking up I.

I. – “Don’t frow me!”

me – “What?”

I. – “Don’t frow me!!!”

me – “Don’t throw you? Who’s been throwing you?!”

***

T. – “Daddy…I. is in the back woom (room) peeing into a cup.”

Daddy – “Sigh…send him in here.”

I. comes in holding his ear and looking sheepish.

Daddy – “I., were you just peeing into a cup?”

I. – “Ummm….yep.”

Daddy – “Why were you doing that buddy?”

I. – significant pause and look of extreme confusion…“I don’t know…”

***

G., B. and T. sitting at a table after church whispering

me – “Hey girls, can I sit with you?”

G., B. and T. in chorus –  “NO! It’s a secret meeting. 4, 5 and 7 year olds ONLY!” (in my recollection this was said in a voice very much like the witches from Macbeth, but I think it was just my hurt feelings at being banned from the cool kids table. And they were so damn specific about the age requirement, sheesh)

me – “Gawd…fine. I don’t care anyway.”

***

J. was giving me a fantastically difficult time and would not listen or respond

me – “J. this is unacceptable.” (Totally tried to super nanny his ass…and I’m not ashamed.  Although it seems to work better for Jo.)

J. – “Your face is unacceptable.”

Dear Jesus, please keep me from killing this child.

***

After the family VW bus burned down; conversation in Sunday school:

me – “Does anyone have any prayer requests?”

I. – “I weally hope that our VW is in heaven so that when we get there, we have something to dwive awound in.”

Q. – “Umm…God doesn’t let VWs in heaven…just people.”

I. – “There’s a separate heaven just for VWs…duh.”

***

T. wearing a princess dress and playing in the dirt

T. – “Kwistin…do you wanna see me pull a worm in half?”

me – “Nope. Pretty sure I don’t. And don’t ever ask me that again.”

***

Again in Sunday school; theology with 3-5 year olds can be interesting

me – “Q., I want you to draw a picture of how you could help someone.”

Q. – “I don’t want to.”

me – “Why not?”

Q. hemming and hawing – “Well…I dunno…um cause I’m not even sure I want to be a Chwistian.”

me – “Stifled GASP!”, and thinking “Well that did it, I’m going to get fired from Sunday school.”

instead saying – “Well…what makes you say that?”

Q. – terrified look

me – “You don’t have to scared to tell me. I didn’t always want to be a Christian either.”

Q. – “Well…sometimes, like when you try to tell someone about God and they get angwy.”

me – “So what would you do if that happened?”

Q. – “I would wun (run) away weally, weally fast.”

***

G. and A. in unison – “You’re puny!”

me – “What?”

G. and A. – “We said ‘You’re puny!'”

me – “I’m puny?! But you’re like 2 feet tall. You’re totally punier that I am.”

***

Q. talking to our pastor

Pastor – “Q., what’s it like having an older brother and a younger brother?”

Q. – “Well…my younger bwother is cool I guess, but sometimes it’s annoying having an older bwother.”

Pastor – “In what way?”

Q. – “Like…sometimes…he just doesn’t give me my space.”  He’s 4…I repeat 4.

Pastor – “Q., I just want to ask you some questions, to get inside your head and see how you think.”

Q. screwing up his face – “Well, I think you might have to cwack open my skull for that.”

***

At the pool with Q. and the kids who are intent on making me do very complicated dives, that I can in no way perform

Q. – “Now…I want you to do a back flip, spin 2 times and then finish with a dive.”

me – “Q., there is no way I can do that without killing myself.”

Q. screwing up his face again – “Um…can’t you just like twy (try) it?”

***

T. – “I. says he’s you’re boyfweind now.”

me – “I., is that true? Are you my boyfriend?”

I. – “Yep.”

me – “Well what’s gonna happen if I get another boyfriend?”

I. – “I’m gonna punch him in his face and then put on my boots and kick him in the shins.”

friend – “But what if he’s nice to Kristin and wants to play with you?”

I. – “Hmmm. Well I guess I will pway with him then. But I will still kick him in the shins.”

***

I was having a down day:

I. – “Kwistin…you are pwetty. So much.”

And that’s all it took to steal my heart.

***

A. – “Aunt Kiki is kinda like our gerbils.”

Mom – “How so?”

A. – “She sleeps all day and only comes out to play at night.”

Man, she’s got my number.

***

and I think my all time favorite (at least so far)…

Driving with T. in the car; As one of five, when she gets you alone, she’ll chew your ear off.

T. – “Wanna hear me count to 100….1,2,3,4,5,6,7,……..”

me – “T. you make me tired.”

T – “Why?”

me – “I don’t know, you just do. Someday when you’re my age, you’ll have a kid who makes you this tired and you’ll understand.”

T – “That’s ok. When I’m your age, you’ll probably be dead.”

me – almost drove off the road.

Second Family

To my second family: Everyday I love you more.

Number 5, I love that you’re a kid who does silly things, liking peeing in a plastic cup, just because you can.  I love that you dress up in your sisters fairy costume then run commando up the stairs.  I love that you tell me I’m your girlfriend and you’ll fight any boy who treats me bad.

Number 4, I love that you wear a pink princess dress yet still pull worms apart in the garden.  And that you’re kind enough to offer me a scoop of penaut butter from the jar…straight to your hand.  I love that you are the girliest of girls and still a tomboy at heart.  And your giggle I love the most.

Number 3, I love your perception.  You are only ten but you see the world through grown-up eyes.  I love your compassion, empathy, and willingness to always be the first responder to any emotional crisis with your siblings.  You push my buttons more than any of the others but it’s because you are the most like I was as a child.  I love your heart.

Number 2, I love your bravery.  I love watching you grow from a boy to a man.  I love seeing the way you take care of your sisters. I even like your moody silences because they show that you are thinking and feeling.  I love your courage and steadfastness.  And I could not live without your dry little sense of humor.

Number 1,  I love you.  I met you when you were still a kid, but now you are becoming a woman.  I love your attitude of service and your constant willingness to please.  I love your gentleness with your youngers and your care for them.  I love your sincerity, your youth, your sweetness and your innocence.

If God never grants me children of my own, I will love you the same and will forever be thankful that I was allowed to know you.  Be brave, stay strong, and keep your innocence.  And do not be afraid of that which is to come.  For you can face anything. As long as you face it together.