The Armstrong Archives (26): Happy Thanksgiving!

218Thanksgiving, 1976  Well, we moved again, and I’m writing to you from the 10th floor of a campus housing project. Where would we be without our annual house cleaning and reorganizing moving program? It always seems a little uprooting at first, but we’re really happy in our new home; there are lots more friends and romping spaces! Aaron has a new playmate, too, named Sara Nagy, who is exactly one week and six hours older than he. When they go for walks together, they race and jabber and run into each other –it’s great. Due to the nature of our building (all graduate and professional students) there are many other wives at home with small children, and every Friday night we have an hour-long get together for them all. It is really a cross-cultural group too. So far I’ve met women from Jordan, Kenya, India, Japan, Denmark, Thailand, and Nigeria, and I’m sure other countries are represented in the group too. I love it.

Alan has bee unusually busy of late, but I think the academic pressures will let up after his next exam (the Monday after Thanksgiving). He has started a Bible study group at school and is super excited about it as the kids involved are really enjoying the chance for fellowship and sharing. He has also begun working with the Stockade program at our church, which is something like Boy Scouts with a Christian emphasis. (He just learned this week—among other things—how to use a wristwatch like a compass. Point the hour hand toward the sun. Divide the number of degrees in half that is formed by the acute angle of the hour and minute hands. An imaginary line drawn outward from that point should point toward the south. Pretty heat, eh?)

The golden age of industry and imitation has arrived in the life of our little guy. He has “gotta get going” all the time! He has learned to push chairs around to climb higher, and desktops or counter spaces are no longer safe. He has discovered the mechanical switch too and has really let the power go to his head. Click, click, click, click. Off goes the alarm clock, on goes the flash light, off with the kitchen light, off with the vacuum sweeper. Let’s see, son, we are supposed to be cleaning the house…He does help a lot though, much in vain but some real. When dinner’s ready I send him off with his bib and he will go and knock at Alan’s door to call him, then climb up in his high chair. He feeds himself with spoon or fork (refuses to eat without them in fact unless he’s too hungry to be sophisticated) and tries to wash up his place with a cloth after supper’s over.

That is just about the end of his truly useful advancements. He has a passion for imitation and goes so far as to try to aid us in bathing and dressing ourselves! He about died of jealousy until he got his own toothbrush, and he scrubs his eight teeth faithfully while we brush ours. Dish duty is his real specialty, and he nearly always pushes up a chair to climb up and “help.” Conveniently, there is a tiny drawer to the left of the sink which is full of small kitchen treasures, and he plays with his own gadgets when he tires of splashing. I now understand why it takes housewives so long to get anything done! He also likes to “sort” laundry, sweep, or follow Alan around if he’s using a screwdriver or other fascinating tool.

The final landmark of recent vintage is the introduction of family devotions. After his bath, Alan reads him a paragraph-long Bible story from a picture book. Without a doubt he doesn’t understand the story, but he dearly loves to have us read to him! He turns the pages, and he has learned to fold his hands and sit quietly. Sometimes when Alan announces that it’s time to pray, he leans his head against one arm, but I suspect (though we’ve never checked) he doesn’t close his eyes. The bedtime ritual is very important to him, as I discovered one night when I hurriedly tried to put him to bed while entertaining company. I tried to snuggle him in my arms to nurse without his story, but he wouldn’t have it! He wriggled down and ran over to the chest where we keep his book! Everything must be done “decently and in order.”

My latest projects include recovering an old chair, candying fruit for fruitcakes, and applying for general admission to graduate school here. I dug out some old library books—Luther’s Catechism and the New England Primer included, and I’ve begun preparing materials to use in training Aaron. Since we don’t indulge in T.V., I’ve promised myself to teach Aaron more than he would learn on Sesame Street. That’s a pretty big order, so I’m starting to study well in advance. I also find a little time for personal interest studies and am very happy as a homemaker.

Well, “gotta get going” is at my knee begging for a little attention! Happy Thanksgiving.

 [Note on back of Thanksgiving family letter]

Hi!

Am I ever getting behind on my correspondence! Alan is keeping resolute to the end that he can’t go home. I guess the next trip will be around December 23-24th.

It looks like getting a B.A. in education would be just about as arduous as getting a Ph.D. at this point (well, not really), since I haven’t had any education courses or student teaching and am from an unaccredited school with semester rather than quarter hours. Of course, my real interest is in clinical psychology, and if I went back to school, that would be the place to go.

I’ve started getting up at 3:30 am with Alan and studying, so now I’m just as tired as he is and not so depressed when all he wants to do is eat and sleep! Not only do I get more done, I become a little more empathetic.

Well, time to take Aaron to the Children’s Library for a book of poems!

Love, K, A, and Aa

PS—I talked to a child psychiatrist who has a clinic in N.Y.C. for an hour while she waited for her plane the other day. She kept telling me what an “amazing” child Aaron is and what “marvelous” coordination he has. Of course, I ate it right up. Didn’t tell anyone else, but thought the grandparents could stand to hear that someone else thinks their grandson is pretty special!