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The Wayback Machine

March 16, 2010

Diaryland is back up, thank god. And ironically, I benefitted from the outage — my traffic nearly doubled, thanks to people searching for info on the outage. I stayed up late trying to back up posts yesterday. I have nearly 190 pages and I’m not even at the 1/3 mark yet. That’s downright alarming. I need to keep up with this project. But at least I don’t have to panic to get it done during a time when I’ve already got more on my to do list than I can comfortably handle.

It was entertaining, though, to skim back through old posts. There are so many things I’ve forgotten. As I caught sight of some of them, I became more and more distressed about the possibility of losing them — I can watch him grow up on the pages of my blog. Time to get this all in print form, I think. In the mean time, and as a way of heralding the approach of his 9th birthday next week, here is a sampling of AJ stories from his callow youth. Most posts are from 2005, because that’s mostly what I was working on.

November 20, 2003

AJ has become fascinated with football, the legacy, no doubt, of being the son of a Bears fan and the grandson of an ex-football player for a Big Ten school, both of whom are prepping him for bowl season. He was running around in his football pajamas last night with his Nerf football. My husband pretended to tackle him, shouting as he did so, “Tackle!” After he got the ball, he told AJ, “Tackle me!” AJ set his jaw and set off at a run toward his dad. When he got there, instead of jumping on him, he started wiggling his fingers: there’s a fine line between “tackle” and “tickle.” Football might be a lot more entertaining if this little technique was part of the arsenal.

January 7, 2005

AJ seems to be preparing for a career as an Dadaist. Or possibly an inventor.
AJ: “Mommy, let’s play ‘Ocean in a Harmonica’”
Harriet: “Ocean in a Harmonica?”
AJ: “Ocean in a Harmonica. It’s when there’s a machine that takes the paper up, up, up and then whirls it around and it’s green and there’s a stamper machine that stamps it and it goes around and it gets squished.”
Harriet: “What about the harmonica?”
AJ: “There isn’t any harmonica.”
Harriet: “And the ocean?”
AJ: “There’s no ocean either.”
Harriet: “Why do you call it ‘ocean in a harmonica? What does it mean?”
AJ: “It means DOODY!” [runs off in a wild and crazy dance, which ends when he accidentally steps on the cat’s tail.]

March 21, 2005

Scene: Driveway of the harriet household. Despite the chilly weather, AJ and harriet have ventured outside so that AJ could try out his new box of sidewalk chalk while harriet surveys the winter’s damage to her garden.
AJ: Look, Mommy, I drew the solar system.
[And indeed, there is a large sun at the center of the driveway with planets orbiting in their correct order, each labeled with its initial].
Harriet: What’s that?
AJ: That’s Jupiter’s big red spot.
Harriet: And what are those?
AJ: Those are sunspots.
Harriet: What’s that on top of Mars?
AJ: That’s the polar ice cap.
Harriet: But what’s that sticking out?
AJ: That’s the pompom.

March 31, 2005

Scene: Harriet’s bedroom, Thursday evening. Harriet is folding laundry on the bed. AJ enters from the bathroom, clad only in a towel, which is wrapped around his shoulders, hanging down to his knees.
AJ: Look at me, Mommy! I’m a volcano! (he holds the towel tightly around him, begins shaking and making grumbling noises then suddenly, BOOM! An explosion and the towel flies into the air).
Harriet: Help! Help! There’s a volcano in my bedroom!
AJ: (looking concerned) But, Mommy, did you enjoy the noise?

April 21, 2005

Scene: Harriet’s backyard. AJ and Harriet are lying in the freshly mown grass looking up at the newly emerging leaves, the white flowers like snow on the plum tree and the clouds skittering across the sky.
AJ: Let’s find pictures in the clouds.
Harriet: Great idea! I see a horsie!
AJ: There’s Florida! There’s Florida!
Harriet: You’re right, that one looks a little like Florida. And that one looks like a choochoo train.
AJ: And that one looks like Greenland, a territory of Denmark!

April 24, 2005 [after the death of our cat]

Scene: AJ’s bedroom, at bedtime, lit only by nightlights and a glow-in-the-dark solar system model.
AJ: Where did Max go?
Harriet: I don’t know, AJ.
AJ: Is he coming back?
Harriet: No. He died, sweetie.
AJ: I don’t think he likes being in a hole in the ground.
Harriet: Well, I’m sure that if he were alive he wouldn’t like it at all. But it’s just his body that’s in his ground.
AJ: So, where’s his head?
Harriet: It’s part of his body in the ground. I just meant that Max’s….Maxness isn’t there. He’s not alive.
AJ: What’s Maxness?
Harriet: All the things that made Max Max. Like how he was afraid of loud noises and how he liked to rub your feet with his head while you were eating dinner.
AJ: And how he liked to eat macaroni and cheese? [on tonight’s dinner menu]
Harriet: Yes, just like that.
AJ: I think Mrs. Stein [who had taken over Max’s former job of cleaning up after AJ’s messy macaroni dinner] would have shared her macaroni with Max.
Harriet: I think you’re right.
AJ: I miss Max. I wish he would come back.
Harriet: Me too.
AJ: I would miss Mrs. Stein if she died.
Harriet: Me too. But I don’t think she’s going to die too soon.
AJ: But maybe when she dies, we could get some new kitties.
Harriet: Maybe.
AJ: Mommy, sing me a lullaby.
[Harriet sings a plainchant hymn, “Ave maris stella.”]
Harriet: I don’t know what made me think of that. I used to sing that to you when you were a baby.
AJ: Did I like it when I was a baby?
Harriet: Yes. You used to always fall asleep when I would sing it to you.
AJ: Without crying?
Harriet: Without crying. You didn’t cry about sleeping very much. You were a happy baby.
AJ: Did I laugh when I was a baby?
Harriet: Yes, you laughed a lot.
AJ: Why can’t I remember when I was a baby?
Harriet: I don’t know. Most people can’t remember when they were babies.
AJ: I miss being a baby.
Harriet: Why?
AJ: Because I do. Mommy?
Harriet: Yes, AJ?
AJ: I’m going to miss you when you go away.
Harriet: You mean when I go to school tomorrow?
AJ: Yes.
Harriet: I’ll miss you too, but you know that I’ll be back later and we’ll have dinner together.
AJ: I know. But I’ll still miss you.

May 31, 2005

Scene: In the car on the way home from our annual pilgrimage to another suburb for the Memorial Day parade and a barbecue at harriet’s mother-in-law’s
AJ: (chomping on one of the nine hundred and seventy three lollipops garnered from the candy-tossing extravaganza passing as a parade). Mommy, what’s that thing you stick in your mouth and smoke comes out of it?
Harriet: Smoke comes out of it? That doesn’t sound like a good idea.
AJ: You know, like’ Pearl’s dad. (Pearl is a pig in a poke bonnet and the principal character in a William Steig story, The Amazing Bone).
Harriet: Oh! It’s a pipe. Pearl’s father smokes a pipe.
AJ: I’m going to pretend my lollipop is a smoking pipe.
Harriet: Uh, okay.
AJ: Okay, I’m done pretending my lollipop is a smoking pipe.
Harriet: Uh, okay.
AJ: I don’t want to get smoker’s lung.

July 13, 2005

Scene: AJ’s bedroom at night.
Harriet: (Tucking AJ into bed). Good night, sweetheart.
AJ: One more huggie?
Harriet: One more hug. (An enormous, boa-constrictor-like hug follows). Now AJ, I don’t want you getting out of bed again. You’ve been doing that too much lately, so if you do it tonight, I’m going to have to punish you tomorrow.
AJ: What’s going to happen?
Harriet: I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to talk it over with Daddy. But don’t find out, okay?
AJ: But what if I miss you?
Harriet: You’ll just have to miss me a little. But I’ll be right downstairs and you’ll see me as soon as you wake up.
AJ: But I don’t like to miss you.
Harriet: I don’t like to miss you either, but it’s time for you to be by yourself and go to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.
AJ: Okay. Mommy?
Harriet: What is it, AJ?
AJ: Maybe if I dream about you I won’t miss you.

July 13, 2005

Scene: The bleachers in a minor league ballpark. AJ is retrieving the crumbs from the bottom of a bag of Cracker Jack.
AJ: Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a real baseball player.
Harriet: [who had been thinking more along the lines of an astrophysicist or a poet or perhaps a poetic astrophysicist] That sounds great. You’ll have to work really hard at your batting and catching and practice a lot.
AJ: [pondering for a moment]. Well, I won’t have to work that hard. I just want to be an umpire.

July 19, 2005: An Autobiography AJ wrote for preschool

All About Me!
My name is AJ. I am 4 years old. My birthday is March 25. In my family I have a cat, mom and dad. One thing I really love to do is draw. I love to eat spaghetti and cucumbers. One thing that scares me is forests. When I grow up I want to be a baseball player. If I could have any pet I wanted I would choose a dog because they’re furry and fuzzy. I’m a special kid because I know how to do lots of things like jumping.

September 30, 2005

Scene: Harriet’s kitchen, 3:45 p.m.
Harriet: Come on, AJ! It’s time to go catch our train to the farmer’s market!
AJ: (bounding down the stairs) Oh boy! I’m so excited! I’m so excited because my future is turning to happiness!
Harriet: Because your future is turning to happiness? Is that what you said?
AJ: Yes. Because my future is turning to happiness.
Harriet: Because you’re about to go on a train?
AJ: Yes.
Harriet: Okay, then. That’s very poetic of you.
AJ: Thank you.

October 2, 2005

He takes in so much on trips like that, things we don’t even notice. It all comes out in hyperactive brain waves the following day. He’s been drawing pictures of the el, and of trees as tall as the Sears Tower, and when he talks its as if ordinary vocabulary doesn’t have enough meaning to express his feelings. He’s been speaking in psychedelic poetry.
“Mommy, I think the breeze is blowing on my mind. It’s making my cold go away. I just open my mouth and all the germs are leaving.”
“I’m glad you’re feeling better, AJ.”
“Do you know why the breeze is blowing on my mind?”
“Because I’m happy.”

October 19, 2005

Scene: Harriet’s bathroom. AJ is in the bathtub playing with a small red pickup truck.
AJ: Hey, Mommy!
Harriet: Hey, AJ!
AJ: No, Mommy! I wrote a poem about my truck.
Harriet: You did? Let’s hear it!
I’m a Saturn.
I’m a pattern.
I’m better than anyone.
You fool everyone.

Harriet: Wow, I like it.
AJ: Thank you.
Harriet: Why is that a poem about a truck?
AJ: (throwing Harriet a sympathetic glance because he is sorry for her clearly inferior intellect) Because it is.

October 21, 2005

Scene: Harriet’s bathroom. AJ is sitting on the toilet with a book in his hand, as is his custom.
AJ: Hey, Mommy!
Harriet: Hey, AJ!
AJ: Can I read you a poem?
Harriet: Sure. I’d love it.
“To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wildflower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.”

It’s by William Blake.
Harriet: I know. He’s the one who wrote that poem about the tiger.
AJ: Which poem?
Harriet: The one that goes,
”Tyger, tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry”

AJ: I don’t remember that one. Say it again.
Harriet: “Tyger, Tyger…”

December 12, 2005: AJ’s letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
When you come to our house, please bring some cat toys for Mrs. Stein. She is our cat. Her stocking has a pawprint on it and it says “The Cat.” It used to be Mr. Stein’s stocking, but he died and now we’re using it for Mrs. Stein because she didn’t have a stocking. Mrs. Stein likes toys that she can run around and chase and I can throw them at her and she can catch them with her paws.
P.S. I want some cars and something for them to drive on. Thanks!

December 15, 2005

“There’s a lot of noise in Narnia!”
AJ’s muffled voice comes from the broom closet in the corner of the kitchen, which has temporarily been converted into a wardrobe.
“Why is there so much noise in Narnia?”
The broom closet door opens.
“Well, there are some kids jumping on the trampoline in there.”
“There are? That sounds like fun!”
“Yeah. I’m going to do it too. Bye!”
A few minutes later, after much clanging and banging from a space only a four-year-old could be happy to be inhabiting, AJ emerges, blinking, into the kitchen.
“You’re back! How was your trip to Narnia.”
“It was too snowy in there so I came home. Mr. Tumnus says hello.”

8 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:19 am

    I went back and read a few old entries in my DL account, too. It was nice to revisit the past and remember the little Red and younger Dusty. I have a lot of amnesia about Red’s early years (I don’t know why, maybe sleep deprivation) so I’m really glad I documented it all. Does AJ still like spaghetti and cucumbers? Or just for that week?

  2. March 16, 2010 9:19 am

    Possibly you should title the book Mr. Tumnus says hello.

  3. eleanorio permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:25 am

    I’ve always wished I had kept a diary when my kids were growing up. I’ll just have to live vicariously, that’s all!

  4. March 16, 2010 9:27 am

    That is simply too dear for words.

  5. March 16, 2010 9:46 am

    Yes, freshhell, spaghetti and cucumbers are still his favorite non-dessert foods. He has been very consistent in that regard. And Jeanne, I think that would be an excellent book title. The thing that I have been enjoying the most about these old posts are the little things — small moments that were gone in an instant that I, for whatever reason, thought to write down, like an adventure in the kitchen broom closet. These say so much more about who AJ was and is than any of the major life events.

  6. freshhell permalink
    March 16, 2010 10:15 am

    Exactly! That’s particularly true in Red’s case. If I don’t write down what she says moments after it’s said, it’s gone. At least this way, I’ve got it all down on virtual paper. Forever.

  7. readersguide permalink
    March 16, 2010 12:35 pm

    Yes — Mr Tumnus says hello was my favorite bit, too.

  8. coldspaghetti permalink
    March 17, 2010 6:41 am

    Yikes — Cold Spaghetti was down yesterday, too. It was some sort of lock-out, but it was all day and just awful. I feel your pain!

    But what a delight in finding all these wonderful little moments! Beautiful.

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