Monday, September 14, 2015

Determination, of various sorts

We went to Silver Lake on Friday. It was warm enough to swim, so the girls went in their bathing suits and life vests, and they had their first real experience of a western Washington lake. This particular one is really a glorified pond, but there was a beach with sand and a roped-off kids' area, and the girls loved wading and splashing around. They went waist-deep, which was as far as the rope went, but decided not to go further, even though I said they could. (I didn't say I would go with them. I had not worn a bathing suit. I was prepared to get wet going after one of them, but I was not excited about it, and maybe they noticed that.)

I noticed the distinctive smell of Washington woodland, a sweet woodsy smell, which now that I think of it probably  comes partly from overripe blackberries. They noticed the sand and how the underwater plants started growing a few yards out, and the freshwater clamshells, and how in this beach there were no waves and no tide. But mostly, Chloë noticed...wait for it...the ducks. There were a dozen or so mallards and wood ducks floating near shore, and she was absolutely charmed by them, especially when they swam right near her. "I've never seen a duck so close before! Look at its webbed feet!" This flock was very tame; they had obviously decided being chased by small children was worth it for the free food. "That boy is feeding the ducks!" she said, pointing to a boy around eight or so who was tossing chips to the waiting birds nearby. "I wish we had brought food."

"We brought animal crackers," I said, and then as her face opened with hope, "but it's not good for the ducks to feed them." She asked why, and I told her (there was also a helpful sign not far from where the boy stood). I could see and hear her reluctance, but she said decidedly, "Then we shouldn't." I was proud.

* * *

We went to the Lynnwood Skate-and-Bowl on Saturday, for the Norwescon kickoff. Chloë has skated three or four times before, but Maia never has. When they got into her skates she had some trouble standing, but she worked at it, and shuffled gamely across the carpet. After some practice she fell down a slight incline--not her first fall, but her first one that hurt. She cried, naturally, and said she didn't want to go on the rink, so Eric took Chloë out, as she was ready to move on. But they hadn't gotten more than a quarter of the way around the rink when Maia said, "I wish we were with Chloë and Daddy," and I said, "We could go out and try to catch them, " and she said, "Okay."

We stepped into the rink. She was mostly shuffling her feet back and forth, and steadfastly ignoring all my attempts to teach her otherwise, but she clung to my hand and managed some forward movement. She fell a couple of times, but she kept getting back up and shuffling some more, and every once in a while she would exclaim, "I'm doing it!"

Meanwhile ahead of us, Eric reported later, Chloë was struggling to get better, and crying, as she too often does, "I can't do it." We've noticed that Maia tends to be better at things that require physical agility--I blame jaundice--but I don't know how much of that is her much more positive attitude. Chloë has shown determination to do a few things--such as guitar; she got one for her birthday and has been surprisingly diligent about asking for "guitar lessons" from me and about working on her fingering, even though she finds it difficult. (We're looking for a place for lessons around here with an actual teacher.) But most of the time if she has any sort of difficulty, she dissolves into tears and won't keep working on the problem without a lot of prompting. Maia has that reaction sometimes, but more often she just goes ahead and tries things. We never quite caught up with Chloë on that trip around the rink (though Eric spotted us and visited), but at our closest point I commented to Maia, "We're halfway across the rink," and she looked back and said, "No, Mama. Not halfway. Look!" I looked back and realized that while I'd meant halfway around the rink, we were all the way across, and she was awed at the distance she'd skated. She wanted to stop after we completed our circuit, and not long after that we traded our skates for bowling shoes, but she was so excited and proud of herself, and so was I.

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