Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rachel's First Advent Calendar, or, Any Idea What Rachel's Doing?

Yesterday, Dawn gave Rachel her first advent calendar. You know, the ones with a Christmas scene on the front and 25 little carboard doors that can be opened, the numbers 1 through 25 distributed approximately randomly among the doors, each with a little piece of chocolate behind it. Yeah, exactly - a four-year-old's dream. They opened the first two since it was already the second, and they pin it onto the cork board on Rachel's door with the plan that they will open one each night.

Earlier today, I was wondering what Rachel was doing. It was nice and quiet, Dawn and I were cleaning up in the kitchen, and Rachel was off playing by herself, which is great, but I wanted to know what she was doing. It's good to check in on her once in a while. I asked Dawn if she knew what Rachel was doing, and she said no, but just leave her, she's occupying herself. Sounds OK, but I figure I'll just check in on her a teeny bit.

I walk from the kitchen toward the study, taking a quick look into Rachel's room, but not stopping too long, because I don't want Rachel to decide to come see what I'm doing. She's standing in her room, looking at her bulletin board, and when she sees me, she turns and walks further into her room. I continue on to the study. Wait. That was a bit furtive. She was doing something and knew she wasn't supposed to be and thought she could avoid the attention by walking away from it. I can just tell.

I walk into her room, and there are at least a half dozen extra slots on the advent calendar open! I don't know why I'm surprised. She's FOUR. It contains CHOCOLATE. It's in EASY REACH.

FOUR + CHOCOLATE + EASY REACH = Oooh! I think I'll have some! Yummy!!

She's got two in her hands. OK, no, one in her hands, one in her mouth. It takes a bit of back and forth & struggle to get her to give me the one. Including threatening to throw the advent calendar away. I take the calendar downstairs because it can't stay in her room. Dawn flips out. I manage to get her not to go up to Rachel's room and, instead, go back myself. Rachel and I talk about it. She wants the calendar back and wants it on the board at her level. She says she won't open anymore without us.

Right. I offer that she can have it on the board at the top, where she'll need one of us to pick her up to get to it. No, she wants it down low. It can be at the top, or we can keep it somewhere else. No, it needs to be down low. It can be at the top, it can be somewhere else, or it can go in the garbage. OK, fine, Daddy, put it up high.

Of course, now I have to get it back from Dawn who, still angry, has put it in a closet. Not that I couldn't figure out which one, but I still have to get her to buy into the deal I've negotiated. OK, that wasn't too hard. I put it back. Now, though, we have to have the conversation about what is going to happen the rest of the month - since you at a lot of them, there won't always be a chocolate in it, so if you open the door and there's nothing there, it's because you already had it, and you just won't get one that time.

I go through this several times to make sure it sinks in. As I said... I don't know why we were surprised, but it seems to have taken. I promised her that next year she can try having it down low again.

I need to tell my parents about it. I'm sure it'll elicit reminiscence about my & my brother's childhoods. At least the story, which I'm old enough to remember on my own, in fact, about how my brother vanished. We noticed after a while because it was very quiet and, with him, quiet was bad. It was the other way around with me, apparently: quiet - good, noise - bad. So we started looking for him. We looked everywhere we could think of.

Bedrooms. Closets. Bathroom. Tub. Under beds. Back yard. Living Room. Kitchen. Breakfast room. Dining Room. Garage (no door). Behind the garage. On the garage (he wasn't big enough to get up there, but we checked anyway). In the basement (locked & he wasn't big enough to get to the lock, even if he had a key, but we checked anyway). In the street. In the front yard. In the neighbor's yards. Then we checked them all again.

I think we were just starting to become truly worried. He was not more than 7, probably a bit younger, though I don't remember for sure. I've just been checking around the front of the house & the neighbor's yards, the sidewalk, under the cars in the street... no luck. I'm walking back into the house and I happen to glance in the breakfast room from outside. Keep in mind that we've "definitely" checked the breakfast room already at least twice.

There he is, sitting on the floor, ripping apart the freshly baked loaves of rye bread our mother made that morning. Well, at least he hasn't been run over! I find my parents and tell them. My mother doesn't flip out, she bursts into tears. Between all the possible disasters I'm sure were going through her head (I am sure I didn't have much of a clue then, though I do now) and how much effort she put into the bread every time... yeah...

She also couldn't bear to throw out the bread, so she put it in plastic bags in the freezer, took it out again a few days before Thanksgiving that year to let it dry out, and then used it in the stuffing. Best stuffing we'd ever had, so we've been using good bread in the stuffing ever since.

Might have to ask if there are any such stories about me, as I can't remember any off hand.

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