Real life has been keeping me remarkably busy of late. Of course, since real life is another word for "stuff I can probably figure out how to use in a book, one of these days, when I've had time to think about it," this isn't entirely a bad thing.
We had Christmas at my house for the second year in a row. This meant that my brother, his wife, and the adorable duo, my now-three-year-old nephews, came down from Boston, and that I drive down to Yorktown a day or so before their arrival to pick up Mom, and then down again after they left to return her. Lot of driving. And a lot of child-proofing. And once the boys arrive, they have two modes: light-speed, and asleep. As soon as they fall asleep, most of the adults in their immediate vicinity follow suit, in self-defense. But tired as we were much of the time, it was wonderful to see Christmas again through three-year-old eyes.
We found that Aidan loved ripping open presents. Wasn't especially greedy for the contents, especially if it was boring grownup stuff, so we had no particular trouble getting him to toddle over and hand a gift to its intended recipient. But first he wanted to rip them open. Liam, on the other hand, liked distributing the presents. He'd pick up each package, look to one of the grownups to tell him who it was for, and then trot over to distribute it, with great joy. In fact, it almost seemed to dim his enjoyment ever so slightly if the present turned out to be for him. How much more interesting to pass them out. When combined with Aidan's present opening skills, this meant we grownups could just sit back and have all the work of present distribution and extraction done for us, painlessly, and with a lot of laughter.
And both boys adored the huge array of wooden train tracks I set up in the living room before their arrival. I think it started the holiday off on the best possible note, for them. They walked in, as far as the three-year-old eye could see, everything was trains. There might have been five minutes when they were both awake and not eating and neither was playing with a train, but if there was, I missed it.
Alas, I didn't miss the excitement when Liam lost his little silver Hot Wheels car. I failed to realize that to toddler eyes, the hole in the floor where the grille over the HVAC vent had broken a day or two before their arrival looked like a very interesting place for a car to explore. Three-year-olds have no idea of consequences. How do you tell a sad little boy who keeps repeating "Where car?" and "Want car!" and peering into that seductive hole in the floor that Car has gone permanently bye-bye, unless Auntie Donna can figure out how to disassemble the vents in her basement that lead into the furnace.
I felt terrible that I couldn't. After all, grownups are supposed to be able to fix everything. Especially an aunt with such skill at reassembling train tracks that have been knocked askew by the ungentle hands of enthusiastic toddlers. (Note to Imaginarium: try including a roll of duct tape with the spiral train set, because that's what it finally took to get that thing to stay together more than five minutes!)
In short, we had a very fun-filled holiday, and I am seriously considering the notion of inflicting a wayward three-year-old on Meg in the book I'm about to write. I've done all the research.
The new year hasn't started quite as cheerfully. Mom got a cold, and shortly after she got home, we realized that she'd completely lost her hearing. We initially thought the hearing aid she wears to compensate for moderate hearing loss had failed, but it turns out the hearing aid is fine, and she appears to have a middle ear infection affecting both ears. We're hoping that the meds--antibiotics and prednisone--bring it under control and that the hearing loss is temporary, but only time will tell.
So for the moment, I'm down in Yorktown, keeping an eye on Mom, nagging her to take her meds, fixing her cups of hot tea to help break up the congestion, and getting writer's cramp writing notes. I'm sure there's fictional material in this experience, too; and maybe even humorous material when I've had a chance to digest it. But for now, I'm just hoping Mom gets better soon.