festival report 2: Patriots Day

boys and grandparents watching the parade


Hot on the heels of Easter came Patriots Day; that happens sometimes. We took a relaxing morning to let some of the effects of the previous day's chocolate and business to wear off, then headed to Lexington to take in the festivities. Of course, first we had to take in a picnic!

Mama and Zion sitting on the grass surrounded by containers of food

plenty to go around

There was lots of food; the cookie Harvey and Zion split was plenty of food all by itself! (I made them split it on the principle, as I told them at the time, that you should never eat a desert bigger than your face).

Harvey holding half of a big cookie

half a monstosity

After we finished lunch we had plenty of time to make our way to our traditional parade-viewing spot, since we cleverly came early for prime parking opportunities. As we wandered over we met Grandpa Ira, who kindly indulged us in another attempt at a family photo. It took some persuading to get Zion to join us, but he did eventually.

the five Archibalds on a park bench

looking not entirely unhappy to be photographed

We made it to the parade route about 45 minutes before P-Hour, and the boys ran around and played in the bushes for a while until the other Grandpa (and Grandma) showed up, at which point they settled down on the curb to wait.

Harvey, Zion, Grandma, Grandpa, and another Grandpa sitting on the curb waiting for the parade

anticipation and grandparents

The thing about parade photography is, the parade units tend to be the same year after year. I've noticed this before, but it struck me even more this year (it might be because this parade was back to normal after last year's 300th Birthday Spectacular). So I mostly stuck to taking picture of the kids.

Zion watching the parade

enjoying 1

Harvey watching the parade

enjoying 2

Actually, there was one new thing, which Zion enjoyed seeing.

a marcher in a cartoon chicken suit

big chicken

I think it was advertising a daycare, but no matter: it was there! A marching chicken!

Patriots Day can be hot or cold, and this was one of the hot years. The temperature was actually reasonable—I was fine in long trousers and long sleeves all day—but the sun was startlingly strong, and we regretted our lack of sunblock. Luckily I had remembered the hats! But Lijah wasn't happy to permit his to stay on, so for the most part he and Mama retired to the shade.

Leah and LyeLye at a distance, in a scrap of shade

seeking refuge from the sun

But don't worry, they could still see from there! At least, the one of them who can focus her eyes further than three feet away could. But don't worry LyeLye, we'll do it again next year!


my children right now

Harvey has always been a sweet sweet child, but these days he has moments of being so endearingly sweet with the baby that I suddenly feel the wind knocked out of me. It's like a surprise jump attack at my heart.

Yesterday morning Harvey came into my bed and snuggled up close to Elijah. Elijah was sleeping, and Harvey was content to hold his little hand and lie with his face milimeters away from the baby's fat cheeks, staring into his sleeping eyes. Twenty minutes later I got up to make some coffee and I asked Harvey if he wanted to come downstairs. He said he wanted to stay in bed with Elijah. "I'm very tired," he said.

A child who knows what his body needs, plus loves to quietly snuggle a baby? I could not tell you how to make that happen on purpose.

Later at bedtime I put Elijah down on Harvey's bed so I could use the bathroom. "I wish I could cuddle with the baby," Harvey said to Dan.
"He's very delicate," Dan answered. "You have to be careful not to squish him."
"You just put him up here by my head," Harvey said. "And I'll lie with him close to me."

So while I made the bed and folded diapers in the next room, Elijah fell asleep next to Harvey listening to TinTin. Compounding the sweetness of my almost-five-year-old, it seems we finally have a baby who goes to sleep when you put him on his back. Again, I could not tell you how to make that happen on purpose.

Harvey has always been a socially sensitive child, which is both good and bad. It's like he's on the exact opposite end of the spectrum from autistic. He is so aware of what a social situation demands that it sometimes overwhelms him, especially if he thinks people are demanding certain behavior from him. But once he feels he's mastered the demanded behavior, he is ALL ABOUT IT. Whereas kid's church used to be a fearful emotional nightmare, now Harvey comes home and tells how HE KNEW the right thing to do, but OTHER KIDS wouldn't sit in the circle. Similarly, he shows such exuberance for dressing for an occasion, not just church but painting, bike-riding, running and swimming, that I feel it is my special gift to help him pick clothes in the morning. I like to think he gets it from me, his love of socially appropriate attire, but Dan has a keen eye for fashion himself and will complain right along side me that women have lost all sense of what to wear to a wedding. Seriously, how hard is it to find something, anything, that's not black or white? And for the love of God, tits or ass but not BOTH. Oh Harvey, my love, I guess we're all going to have to work on our judgement issues together.

Beyond these details of social training, Harvey has a deep kindness that is beautiful to watch. Sometimes I worry about his level of influence on this brothers, especially when he's whining and Zion immediately picks it up. But really I know that everything will be fine, that his brothers will be happy and cared for, because Harvey loves them in a very real way that is beyond anything I can discipline or manufacture.

Harvey and Zion holding hands while running away from me

Zion is a different person from Harvey. He never wants to change his clothes unless they are soaking wet, and even then it's under protest. He loves his Mama, idolizes his big brother, and harbors some combination of those two feelings for his father, depending on how funny Dan is being at that moment and who else is hanging around. What I appreciate most about Zion's personality is his keen sense of humor. That kid is funny. At barely three he has more of a sense of timing and an innate understanding of what makes a joke than most grownups. Whereas Harvey skates by on repeating things he's heard (prefaced by emotionally screaming "LISTEN TO MY JOKE! LISTEN TO MY JOKE!") Zion notices opportunities for humor and tries things out that are original and hilarious. I mentioned a while ago one of the bath-time gems when he was just two: "I'm cleaning my penis - hey, CLEANIS!" He's always looking for an opportunity to slip in a laugh line, and he's mastered our favorite family running-gag "What's blank to you?" (As in: The snew lay on the ground - What's snew? Nothing, what's snew with you?) So if he's hands me pretend food he'll say, "It's bubba."
"What's bubba?" I ask.
Then Zion's eyes get very wide as he says triumphantly, "What's bubba TO YOU????"

Zion is also rather straight-forward with his emotions, which is good and bad. While Harvey's sensitivity seems to leave him open for wounding, Zion will just get mad and hit me. A lot. He really hits me a lot. He'll also break things and shake Elijah's seat, so he needs a good bit of monitoring when he's upset. But then again he's over it quickly, especially if you make him laugh. Having two children makes me appreciate the contrast.

can't catch me!

I have a third boy now and I am so curious about who he'll turn out to be. Right now he is a baby like any other, though I think back to Harvey and Zion's babyhood and I can trace essential elements of their personalities to the way they slept or resisted sleeping. Elijah seems to sleep well unattended, which makes me wonder if he's going to be a quiet observer, looking out at the world and taking everything in for a later date. A philosopher child would go good with the set, but thankfully it's not up to me. All my children surprise me, thrill me, and tax me. If it weren't so then the surprises thrills and taxations wouldn't be as vibrant.

Meanwhile, Elijah just started vocalizing last weekend. Now after nursing he'll look into my eyes and say "Agleh" while his face morphs into a huge heart-shaped smile.

worth all the work

In these moments I think, that just like the older two, this child is made out of goodness. My children, they're all 100% LOVE.