Tip #153: Keep your fruit in plain sight.
For every week of June there was a bowl of cherries on the table that we call my desk. It might be shocking to know that there are two desks in our tiny home. Mine, a glorified potting table, turned dining table, and most recently called desk. And Faye’s, a child-sized table that she refers to as her desk when she’s in the mood to do a bit of work. In any single reference to the desk in our apartment, you can hear Faye asking whether we’re talking about mama’s desk or her own.
“Faye, can you grab the burp cloth from the desk?”
“My desk? Or jer desk?”
And off she tromps.
A bowl of fruit (and anything else) on my desk is within sight of our kitchen table, and our bed, and the bench that we call our couch. In other words, situate yourself just about anywhere in our apartment and you can see it. Its cherry-filled presence for the month of June made for an eventful bedtime hour. Before anyone could stop her, Faye would wriggle out from the middle of our bedtime tangle, run across the room, and retrieve a tiny fistful of cherries to share with the family. (Silas wanted a taste, she was sure of it.)
She knows the answer, but she’d still cock her head at us.
“Got a pit?”
We had the exact exchange a million times over the course of the month.
“Go get your napkin.”
Faye would scamper off the bed and over to her highchair to grab her napkin, but not before the cherry juice rolled off her chin and spotted her pajamas.
People want to know what’s it like to have two small kids in a one-bedroom apartment and the only answer I know how to give is that nearly everything—and everyone—is within sight, nearly all the time.
Cherries at my mom and dad’s house sit on the middle of the kitchen table. From upstairs, I can hear the wooden chair scrape against the kitchen floor while Faye folds herself over the table, lifts her toes skyward, and goes in for her prey. I send up a quiet prayer that her feet will find the chair again as she makes her descent.
At Grammy and Grandpa’s, cherry pits get spit out the back porch door. The goal is to reach as far as the herb garden, but pit spitting takes practice and lots fall short. They dot the stone stoop and press into the balls of your feet when you step onto them unawares. In this old house it’s the traces of everyone that you see. Cherry pits, and sand, and clipped grass that clung to wet feet as they streaked across the yard make trails to the youngest members of the family. You need to use different senses in this place to keep track of things. Ears perk up, listening for the creak of the screen door as it opens. The patter of tiny feet in an upstairs bedroom alert a parent to a toddler up from a late-afternoon nap. The cry of a once-sleeping baby goes unnoticed for a beat or two longer.
Back at home, once both kids are asleep and the door to their bedroom closed for the evening, there are a few hours when we can’t see them. I putter around the room, polishing away the traces of the day—the sand here’s from the playground, but there’s still plenty to sweep away.
When it’s finally time for me to turn out my own light, I check on both kids in their bedroom. They appear to be utterly unaware of each other, but for all I know it’s the sound of all those tiny breaths rising and falling that’s bringing them comfort and keeping them asleep in the middle of the night. I know better than to test the theory.
I lean in for a kiss. Everyone knows those baby cheeks smell like pure magic mixed with a bit of dried milk, but it’s a huff of those cherry cheeks that I’m after. As far as I’m concerned nothing’s half as good as the smell of a three-year-old in the summertime, sweaty, sandy, and with a hint of fruit lingering around the edges.
This week, we traded cherries for plums, but the smell’s as sweet and the question’s still the same: “Got a pit?”
Tiny apartment survival tips #1 – 152, right this way.