6 p.m. I feel like my relationships have changed fundamentally during this trip. When we left Ontario, I had spent so long locked in a lonely nucleus of anxiety that I had forgotten how to relax and enjoy my family. Blake is continually changing, and 10 months of the working life was enough to make me feel like an impostor rather than a mother.
This week Blake has been sleeping on the floor at the foot of our bed. We haven't had him in the bed with us every night for nearly a year, but this is the first time we've had him unconfined (i.e. not in a crib or playpen) at night. The few times he's come into our bed, I've asked him nicely to go back to his bed, and for the most part, he has. (The first time I did this, the Boy was awed. "You have powers," he whispered. "Yeah, political powers," I smirked, thinking of Ghandi backing up Homer with a chain.)
This is all part of a new obedience he's developed. I'm not saying that he's an obedient or well-behaved child - far from it. But he's starting to respond to vocal warnings that he would've ignored only last month. I'm really impressed. That, plus his ability to entertain himself without his prodigious battalions of toys, CDs & cartoons, makes me think that I just might have not totally screwed him up after all. Just maybe, working for a living and allowing television hasn't blinkered his personality. I guess only time will tell.
My relationship with the Boy has also improved immeasurably. Two nights ago we were fighting (again) and all was ashes. Then he hit on the brilliant idea that I teach him to knit. Resentment turned to hope as he started pegging away with the tweed I'd bought at GVF on Tuesday. I don't know why this worked - maybe because it showed that he was willing to be vulnerable and try something he'd failed at before. And that he would attempt to connect to something I loved at the same time. At any rate, he's finished three bookmarks and we haven't had so much as a spat since. Marvellous.
Because he showed no intention of giving me back my yarn, we returned to GVF the next afternoon & got him some more tweed and some fancy-ass needles of his own (they're nicer than any of my straights, I can tell you that much.) Because I am powerless in the face of yarn, I bought some hemp to match Sister Silver's décor, as upon extensive consultation with the recipient, I've decided to make her a loopy pillow.
For some reason, I enjoyed the store much more this time. Maybe it's because I let the store help me rather than bumbling around. Maybe it's because they gave me the perfect pattern for the homespun. (I'll make one excellent hat this winter.) Maybe it's because I was shopping alongside the Boy for the first time, so we had to divide our time between Blake and yarn. Or maybe it's because they fed Blake a cracker covered in strawberry-tarragon jam. At any rate, it made a good yarn store into a great one in my eyes, and I thanked them profusely for making my yarn tourism count.
("Thanks for all your help!" Blake echoed as we carried him out. "Thanks for all your help! Thanks for all your help! Thanks for all your help!" "Uh, they're thanked, Blake.")
All this yarn talk takes me to today, when I found myself in The Loop, staring at the hand-painted Lucy Neatby Celestial skeins and imagining the socks I might have come autumn. I also found some Lana Gatto in the exact putty colour I need to complete St. Theresa's cardigan. This is another store/café along the lines of the Knit Café, and it was a very cool space. They have a whole display of provincial yarns, which is handy for those of us on a yarn crawl. Good service & the business card has a needle chart! Nice.
We were in Halifax to be tourists, as Wolfvegas feels more like home than vacation. Halifax has always been happy fun time, an escape from the mundane, and we knew we could find stuff to make Blake happy.
I love Halifax. It's such a great town. Although most of our past pleasures are not child-friendly (browsing bookstores, dining in pubs, walking by the shore), there's plenty more attraction here to push any 2 1/2-year-old's buttons. We started by the harbour, taking in the tugs and allowing Blake to attempt to scale the Wave monument despite the prominent warning signs (and pissy rejoinders from total strangers. I wasn't worried that he would fall and dash out his brains; he's only 2 1/2. He can't climb anything without support rungs.) Then we worked our way along the boardwalk, loving the boats and the weird smacks of jellyfish, until we came to the shrine: Theodore Tugboat.
Now, Blake isn't a huge fan, but he's familiar with the basic Theo-verse. (I'm sure he'd be more familiar if his mother wasn't such a strong believer in the unwholesomeness of watching television at 6 a.m.) Unfortunately for our semi-fan, Theo chose this moment to honk away on a harbour tour. It was too much for poor Blake; he burst into noisy tears at Theo's rejection. And despite the slapstick comedy of the situation as it appeared to the parents, it did kinda look like a personal snub.
We calmed him with many promises of reunion (Theo comes back every hour or so to pick up another load, and we could always return after lunch). Then we took him to the gift shop for a little retail therapy. By the time we'd devoured a large order of fish n' chips and a family pack of smoothies (I went a little nuts at the Booster Juice. A bargain is a bargain), Theodore was back at the dock. We spent a good half hour just hanging around while he attracted more tourists. Blake tried (bless his heart) to have an earnest conversation with the boat at first, but Theodore (being a boat) was less responsive than Blake might have hoped. We left when Theodore went off on another harbour tour, smug in the knowledge that Blake had no idea that we could pay for the same privilege. When he finds out that bit of info, we're sunk. (Heh.)
We also tried a visit to Strange Adventures (the world-class comics establishment who, when we asked them to stock a few copies of Dav's comic book, stocked 20). Blake thought it was real cool, but my visit was marred by yet another diaper of degeneracy and terror. As we couldn't find a garbage can, the Boy stashed it in our empty smoothie cup in the vacant lot across the street. When we went back to retrieve it after we left the store, it had transformed into a diaper-anthill smoothie. Yum.
As most days in Halifax, it was reasonably perfect. We came home at 3:00 to start supper, and got another excellent meal in us before having to return to Gomorrah.
Things I've neglected to mention: Blake & the backyard. Blake is really digging Sr. Silver's backyard, as there's a wide swatch of grass for running (rather than my parents', where there is a big dangerous pool to avoid.) He's very little in comparison to the yard, and I very much enjoy watching from the porch as his little pumpkin head dashes about below me. The only thing he doesn't get is why we keep pulling him away from the neighbour's playset. No one fences their backyards in Wolfvegas. (I always felt safer walking Wolfvegas in the dark as the sight lines were almost completely unbroken.) The Boy & I are used to this; we're adults and used to respecting personal space. Blake is certain that everything he can get to is for him to enjoy (and really, who's fundamentally wrong here?). The neatest thing about Blake recently is that his new-found obedience means that he usually comes away from the other yards when I ask him. And so it goes, until we can teach him the artificial boundaries of polite Western society. Blech.
We spent the best part of yesterday visiting with Mr. & Mrs. Avalanche. (They got married a few years back. In our church. By Rev. Robyn! They didn't even go to our church when we left! I'm speechless at the coup. As the Boy said, perfectly, "we would have been married here, and by her, but we were already married when we arrived.")
Visiting with these two is like diving into a tranquil pool. It’s not the artiness (although the artiness is interesting and inviting), it’s not the common experiences (although it’s nice to visit with someone who went through 2000-2 with a similar level of intensity), and I don’t think it’s the similarity in age (although, you know it doesn’t hurt). I think they’re just extremely cool people, peaceful and fascinating and interested in the world around them. They are so mellow & creative that I don't feel the need to posture or hide. Invaluable. Come to think of it, they’re almost exactly the kind of people I read about in the Utne Reader. Weird.
The other überrelaxing thing about our visit was their mad toddla handlin skillz. They were perfect with Blake in a way that you don't often see in non-parents; as Mr. Avalanche said on the phone, he's super-uncle, and his woman has spent 4 years working at L'Arche which counts for more than a little. Blake amused himself with everything he could get his hands on, and, as our hosts share their home with a wide range of percussion instruments, so did the Boy. I sat back with my knitting and listened. It was awesome.
And then we went back to Gaspereau Valley Fibres for the Boy’s first knitting supplies, so even when we wore out our welcome, our day remained awesome.
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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*