Idara at Four and a Half

Idara has a hard time hearing directions, many of which have to be repeated before they’re even entertained, let alone followed, but she does have an ear for farts. I’ll be somewhere across the house, thinking there’s no one nearby to offend, and then I’ll hear from off in the distance, “Excuse you!”

Idara excuses herself, too. And I’m sure she’d excuse the dog if we had one. The best part is that it’s always offered with grace, never judgement. She excuses your farts as if she’s giving you a gift.

Our most common struggle these days comes at the dinner table. Idara is not a very adventuresome eater, and if it were up to her she’d spend the rest of her life eating macaroni and cheese. But we do force her to try new things, if only a few bites, so that she can grow her pallet, or at least find more and more things she hates.

Just last weekend we were staying at a place which offered hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, and also bread with Nutella. Tough choice. We told Idara that if she wanted Nutella on bread she’d need to start with half a hard-boiled egg. A couple minutes later I looked over at her and there she was, still chewing away. I asked her why she kept chewing it if she didn’t like it. “Just swallow it,” I said. She responded by trying to swallow and then, after giving me a ‘something bad is about to happen’ look, gagged and barfed it up all over me and the floor between us.

I could’ve done without the barf, but to be honest this is the level of commitment to new foods I’m aiming for.

After a year away from school Idara is now back attending in person. One of the policies at her new school is that students her age are encouraged, though not required, to wear masks. But on the first day I dropped her off I learned that since the masks weren’t required at Idara’s age the teachers just removed them when they walked in the door.

I spoke with her teacher and found that it was just a misunderstanding of protocol and that teachers would start leaving the masks on. Still, Rachael and I wanted to make sure that Idara knew that if she was comfortable wearing her mask she could wear it whenever she wanted to, so we talked about it over dinner later that day. Idara listened carefully to what we said and then a worried look crept across her face. “What’s wrong?”, I asked. To which she responded, “I want to do what the teacher says.”

Despite our attempts at getting Idara in the door of her classroom with her mask still on, I figured that as soon as she saw the other kids without them, off it would come. But when we started receiving photos of what Idara and the other kids got up to each day we saw her still wearing her mask. And not only that, after a while we noticed other students keeping their masks on, too.

I don’t mean this to come across as culture war posturing (“Even my four-year-old can wear a mask!”). My point is that of all the ways she could plant the seed of pride in me, being her own person is at the top of the list. So much of childhood is lost on winning approval by how you speak or dress or act, even if you have to go against your own best interest to win that approval. The mask made Idara an outsider among her peers, no question, but it also made her and them a tiny bit safer.

And now here are some photos of what she’s been up to over the past six months:

idara-underexposed.jpg I started shooting film again a few months before we left Oregon, and while I was still figuring out my camera I accidentally underexposed a roll. The lab was able to pull this picture out nonetheless, and thank god they did, because isn’t she beautiful?

idara-with-leaf.jpg Though sometimes she likes to cover her face with big maple leaves.

idaras-first-tattoo.jpg Not sure how this one came to pass, but at least we were able to document Idara’s first tattoo. The artist is Gordy Molitor, and the medium is washable marker on belly.

idara-between-logs.jpg Idara at one of the best parks in Portland, near Sellwood.

idara-bw-bike.jpg Idara learned how to ride a bike in the past six months, and sometimes we’d go down to the waterfront to ride.

idara-bw-pensive.jpg Sometimes Idara acts like Medusa at bedtime, and sometimes she just looks like Medusa.

idara-by-small-tree.jpg Small kid, small tree.

idara-climbing.jpg Climbing the rope at that playground near Sellwood.

idara-flying-pumpkin.jpg In October we went to a pumpkin patch, and so nice was the weather it could’ve been June.

idara-hike-patty.jpg Idara, in a nutshell: Prepared for anything but with a stuffed animal in tow.

idara-looks-up-beach.jpg Look up!

idara-me-oren-tub.jpg Playing in the hot tub during our most recent trip to “Pepe Ricky’s” house in Redmond. Idara hasn’t been to a public pool in ages (bet you can’t guess why not) but the hot tub is not so bad a substitute.

idara-mountain-biking.jpg Idara insists on bringing her bike on hikes, even if we usually end up carrying it after fifty feet. This one was taken on the TLR.

idara-pepe-christmas.jpg Idara and Gordy at Christmas. By the time we left Oregon, she’d lived nearly three-fourths of her life under their roof. It was, and is, a difficult goodbye.

idara-queen-of-the-hill.jpg Is there anything better than a child’s joy?

idara-plays-with-oren.jpg Maybe the only thing that’s better is seeing a child share that joy with a sibling.

idara-queen-of-the-forest.jpg I want to commission a wall-sized oil painting of this picture in the style of Jacques Louis-David.

idara-on-plane.jpg Idara at the beginning of our two day journey from Portland to Baku.

baku-apartment-safari.jpg We spent our first two weeks in Baku stuck inside, so we had to come up with some creative ways to pass the time, like indoor safaris in which one might spot the loud and terrible Orenus johnsonius.

idara-swing-out-quarantine.jpg Our first day out of quarantine. The photo’s a bit blurry, but after two weeks inside, everything was a bit blurry.

idara-hillside-dance.jpg Our first trip out of Baku came a few weeks later. This is in Lahic, at the foot of the Caucasus mountains.

idara-squinting-snow.jpg Idara’s first real snowday, with a windchill of 4 degrees.

idara-mosaic-mask.jpg Our first trip to our and Idara’s school. This mosaic is just outside the gate.

idara-first-day.jpg About to leave the hosue for Idara’s first day of school.

idara-first-day-outside.jpg Getting ready to board the bus to school.

idara-finds-snowman.jpg We went for a walk in the botanical garden a few days after the blizzard and found a melting snowman nestled in the woods. Winter’s over – time for spring.