Is it just me, or does Olive look approximately four years old in this picture? Something about the smile or the pose has a certain je ne sais quoi – it’s not an expression I’ve seen before.
And in case what strikes you about this picture is not her facial expression or her immense, sudden maturity or her feet on the table but the fact that we seem to have strapped our daughter to a chair, well we have. Sort of. It’s a portable fabric high chair, have you seen these things? They are genius, they fit over most chair backs and feature a
complex simple set of ties and pulleys and levers and buckles that secure your child to the seat and – BOOM! Instant high chair!
This is incredibly useful when you are travelling, as we are tomorrow, and want to pare down the amount of playpen-stroller-potty-high chair STUFF you are bringing.
Oh, what? Didn’t I tell you about that? We’re flying to Ontario tomorrow so that Olive can meet her great-granddaddy, who is 93 and just itching to get his hands on this little mischief maker. I think that this trip will be an emotional one for me, and not only because I get to see two of my favourite people in the world meet.
We are spending most of our time at my grandparents cottage, the place where my siblings and I spent most of our summers. Seeing Olive standing on the dock and spashing in the lake, and bathing in the big sink and getting measured on the wall beside the tin plates – it will all seem so surreal. Our childhoods melding and meshing, repeating.
Then there’s also the fact that my grandma won’t be there. She died a little over a year ago and because we live so far away it’s been easy, up until now, to hide that loss, to sneak it away under a soft cloak of denial or quiet, determined forgetting. But being there at our cottage when she isn’t will bring it all bare, and offer up that loss in as inescapable. It will be hard.
Annie was such a personality, she had such immense character. She wasn’t the type to fade into the background or go unnoticed, and her absence will be palpable. Her presence took up so much space in a room, and the emptiness that will be left over- the silence, the absence of gin soaked ice cubes clinking in a glass, and my grandaddy living on as a sort of half of himself – this will be difficult to wrap my head around.
So, I am excited and nervous. I am trying to prepare myself mentally. I’m trying to remind myself that Annie won’t be there lying in her sun chair on the deck, or reading the paper in the sunroom, or skinny dipping at dawn to scare off fisherman casting too close to her dock. I am hoping that this mental preparation will lessen the shock.
BUT, before we get to that, we spend a few days in Ottawa hanging out with Adam’s twin sister doing fun big city things with Auntie! And that means a flight – Olive’s first!
I am going to jinx myself by saying that I am actually kind of excited. Livvie is in such an interested phase right now. Everything is fodder for her inspection, strangers are met with beaming smiles, animals with excited exclamations of “Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!. I think she’ll have fun on the plane meeting everyone and walking up and down the aisles, looking out the window. I am putting out of my mind how interesting it will be to try and contain her and have her sit still-ish for five hours, and just focusing on how FUN it will be! Her first flight! IT WILL BE FUN, DAMMIT!
We’re bringing lots of snacks, three of her favourite books, and if everything else fails we can introduce her to the wonderful world of children’s TV, which she hasn’t quite gotten to know yet.
(Oh my god I’m delusional! This is going to be ridiculous. Please pray. Not for her – for me. Any tips for flying with an 11 month old? Where do hippie moms stand on drugging their children, hypothetically speaking asking for a friend?)