Monday, March 11, 2024

In which Phoebe gets to snuggle a "little" puppy

Darla invited our family over for dinner this afternoon. We got to meet her mother-in-law, who was just wonderful, and try pork ribs, which was a little bit intimidating for us. We've never had ribs before, but I think we did an okay job with them—Zoë ate her ribs and then ate Alexander's ribs and then finished off Miriam's ribs, so she at least earned an A+ at rib eating. Phoebe really like the pineapple. Grandpa, quizzically, enjoyed the sweet potatoes. 

Darla had served up a dish of sliced...root vegetables (let's say). There were definitely potatoes in there and then some orange somethings that many of us assumed were carrots. But they were not carrots. They were sweet potatoes. And Darla really didn't try to hide this fact. On the contrary, she was quite open about it (much like the pumpkin soup incident at our house last month).

When Grandpa dished some potatoes and "carrots" (which were really sweet potatoes) onto his plate, Darla said, "I can't believe you're putting that on your plate!"

He just chuckled about it...because where else would he put it?!

Later when it came out that they weren't carrots, he felt a little hard done by. But, he survived them and somewhat liked them, so I think this really means that he...likes sweet potatoes. He doesn't want to admit it, but they're not half bad!

I think Phoebe's favourite part of the visit, however, was Titus, the dog.

She spent the first several minutes of our arrival nose-to-nose with Titus, telling him, "You're a good dog! You're a good dog! You're a good dog! You're a good dog!"

We weren't sure whether she was just enamored with him or whether she was trying to convince herself—and the dog—that they could be friends.

But he is a very good dog. He barked a bit when we first arrived, but then quieted right down. He was simply thrilled to see the children. Mostly he just plodded around begging back scratches off people. He'll come and plop down by your feet (or on your feet) and whine, whine, whine until you start giving him a pat.  

When he wants space from the kids he just stands up and walks away, but mostly he seemed to enjoy the attention. Here's Phoebe giving him a squeezy-pat while saying, "Puppy is a little puppy" (which feels like a flat-out lie because Titus is pretty big, actually):

Near the end of our visit, Darla's daughter and her family arrived. We were excited to meet B, because Zoë had the opportunity to meet him when she went over to Darla's house last month (Grandpa took pity on her and Miriam, and took them to a dinner at Darla's house on Super Bowl Sunday while the rest of us were all too sick to be around people, but Zoë had fully recovered (and then some) from COVID and Miriam still was negative (and hadn't been exposed). 

She came home and said, "Guess what! I met a six-year-old...who can snap...with both hands...loudly!"

She thinks he's wildly talented and had so much fun playing with him. When he got there this evening, he disappeared with Zoë (and Alexander) so fast!

M is a cute little blonde thing, like Phoebe, though she's about a year older. She had a hard time when Phoebe found her princess shoes, but was coached on how to allow Phoebe a quick turn. The shoes were much too big for Phoebe, anyway, so we soon convinced her to relinquish them so M could show her how to walk in them. M put them on and walked across a little boardwalk she'd made out of blocks. Phoebe was in awe. And as soon as M left the room (leaving the shoes behind), Phoebe put them on and tripped and stumbled her way across the boardwalk as well. 

Side story: Because we were clearly space-invaders in this situation, Grandpa prompted us to clean up the toys before the kids came in, so our first meeting wasn't just...a bunch of random weirdos playing with their stuff (even though we were just a bunch of random weirdos playing with their stuff...). 

"I don't know where these blocks came from," I said aloud, picking up an armful of blocks.

My helpful—and oh, so humorous—husband said, "Trees."

"Haha," I laughed, acknowledging his joke (and locating an empty bin that I assumed was their home), "I think they go here."

Anyway, we got the toys somewhat cleaned up and then...the toys were quickly brought back out again. We had a short visit with Darla's family, which I think went well. They all seemed just lovely, which is not really a surprise, knowing Darla. I know they've felt a bit apprehensive about co-mingling with our family because this—Grandpa and Darla's wedding—feels like a new and hard and scary thing, and it is a new and hard and scary thing, so those feelings are valid. But I think it's possible for something to be new and hard and scary and also be beautiful and wonderful and joy-filled. 

I mean, I was so scared on my wedding day that I started crying and couldn't stop and Andrew* was sure I was going to bolt. But I didn't! I did the new and hard and scary thing!

* Here I'll just explain that we got married in an LDS temple, which is significantly different from a traditional wedding ceremony you might see on, say, television (which happens to be where I've encountered the majority of the traditional American wedding ceremonies I've watched). There's a superstition, for example, that seeing the bride (specifically in her dress) before the wedding is bad luck. But we don't do the whole walking-down-the-aisle, giving-away thing. Instead, Andrew and I were escorted to the Celestial room (a room for contemplation and reflection) to sit together while we waited for our sealing room to be available. And then we walked together to the sealing room, where all ours guests (including, where applicable, our parents) were already seated. So, he definitely saw me in my wedding dress before our ceremony, and that's okay. And, yes, I cried and cried and cried (which really shook his confidence), but it ended up being just fine (spectacular, even).

It was nothing like this:

My crying was much more dignified. And I wanted to marry Andrew.

It was and scary and hard...and wonderful and beautiful and full of joy, see?

One other example: bringing a brand-new baby home from the hospital. 

You think the hard part is over once the baby is out and healthy (or sometimes less-healthy...and life-flighted across town) and you're all stitched up (anyone who has ever birthed a baby without stitches can go ahead and pat themselves on the back; I have never managed it, personally). But you have nurses checking on you and the baby around the clock, bringing you your meals, helping you to the toilet...reminding you how to administer CPR when they stop breathing for the hundredth time that day...

I mean, sure, it's a little annoying that they are constantly waking you up to see how things are, but that's nothing compared to when you leave the hospital with this tiny, helpless thing and everyone is just like, "Take care, now! Bye-bye!"

Bringing home a baby is wonderful, but the level of anxiety that accompanies that baby is other-worldly. 

Or maybe it was just me. 

I tend to be a pretty anxious person.

That said, I also believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. (Darla, if you read this, don't take it the wrong way; we think you're great!). When Reid introduced us to the idea of Darla—and then to Darla herself—we really had to take his word for it that she was wonderful. We were primed for this, I think, because we could see how lonely he has been (I actually was going to try to meddle in his life and bring up the idea of, like, you it's been a while since he'd tried it, when he asked us if he could bring a...friend...over). So we were thrilled to meet Darla, thrilled to see Grandpa so happy, thrilled that Darla wanted to know us. 

But can be a little bit of a hard thing—adding someone into the family, reworking all those relationships that are so important to preserve but must inevitably change in nature, and exploring brand new relationships that maybe you didn't get to choose* but which will nonetheless affect the rest of your life.

That's no small thing. 

I imagine it feels a little bit like a toddler approaching a big, intimidating dog—one which she has been told is a good dog, and which she wants to let herself love—and repeating, "You're a good dog! You're a good dog! You're a good dog!" until she believes it. 

*Here I guess I explain that even when it feels like you don't have a choice in a given relationship, you actually do have a choice in that relationship. We didn't choose Darla (we didn't even know about her...until we did), but we are thrilled that Grandpa chose her (or that Darla chose him or that there was a mutual choosing) and now we get to choose to love her (even if we feel a little anxious about change).

And, honestly, Darla made it an easy choice to make!

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