The Portuguese Years – Year Six: The Wonder Years

Birthday parties are well celebrated in Portugal. At least they were among the people we knew. Bethy, who was born in August, and other staff kids who had birthdays during camp time, always celebrated their special day at camp. Along with cake, there were other sweets and food. Along with the food there was general pandemonium during the space of a couple of hours.

Happy birthday to Bethy!
Happy birthday to Bethy!

After Susie’s birth, Bethy began to grow up quickly. She loved being Mother’s Helper. She began by learning how to stir the breakfast oatmeal and followed it up by learning to wash and dry dishes. Once she realized she had power to create peace in her room, she started putting things away. She helped me shop and clean house.

Mother's Little Helper.
Mother’s Little Helper.

Susie was very different. Her favorite place to be for quite a few years was wherever Mommy was at any given time or place. If I was there, she was fine. If I was not, she would not rest until she found me or until I cam home. Within that factor, she was an explorer of many things. If I was in the kitchen, she was in the kitchen. Eventually, I had to give her some of my plastic kitchen ward in self-defense.

Susie "helping" me in the kitchen.
Susie “helping” me in the kitchen

Susie learned to walk and then to run. She was most pleased with her self when she  could run back and forth on the varanda. Clearly, she was going places. But, she still stayed close to Mommy.

susie on varanda

In spite of  that, she did manage to get into her fair share of trouble. One day my friend was helping me clean. She called me to come to the bathroom. I often used my typewriter to write letters to supporters and to family and friends. Normally, I covered it up when I left it, but planned to return soon. Susie took advantage of my absence and decided to explore this machine in which Mommy had so much interest. I found her in the bathroom looking like this:

I can type like mommy.
I can type like mommy.

Between her and the young kitten, things were lively for quite some time. They played together, and they shared a hobby. Long before paper shredders were available, these two were paper terrorists. As soon as Susie was able to get around and grab a book to use for teething we made an executive decision to abandon the room that was our bedroom, move the bed into a different room and make the former bedroom the library.  Where we could put the considerable collection of books we had.

Can you imagine that these two could get into so much mischief?
Can you imagine how these two could get into so much mischief.


The Portugal Years: Year Four – Oops!


Bethy on the veranda with her baby doll.
Bethy on the veranda with her baby doll.

Toddlers! They are endearing, aggravating, interesting and busy small people. It is so important to say what you mean and mean what you say to them; they tend to be pretty literal creatures. One day I was walking down the hallway and she held out her doll for me to hug. I mentioned to her that her doll looked like she needed a bath.  I went on my way to put clothes away. On the return trip down the hall, I heard water running in the bathtub. Bethy was leaning over the edge of the tub preparing to give her doll (a soft stuffed one) a bath. In fact, she had several dolls in there waiting for a baths. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “You told me the baby needed a bath.” Oops!

Bethy loved to play “Catching Bethy” with her daddy. Harry always sat next to the door to catch her when she ran by.  He usually caught her, but a couple of times she overshot her mark and landed on her face. Oops! [See photo above.] It never slowed her down, though.

The door on our flat locked automatically when it closed. It was a great safety feature, but woe to you if you got locked out. One morning around the time I had become visibly pregnant for the second time around, Bethy and I went to the grocery store. She still needed some help climbing the stairway to our home, so left my groceries at the bottom of the stairwell and shepherded Bethy up and into the house. I put her little bag on the counter, and set the keys by it. I told Bethy I would be right back and headed down the steps.

As I climbed up the second time, I heard the door slam shut and Bethy giggling. After I gave her instructions, I confirmed that she was too short to pull the latch. When she realized that I could not get in and she could not get out, she started to cry. Oops!

Fortunately, I had left the shuttered windows off the veranda just slightly open. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to climb up there. Just then, the landlady’s maid came downstairs. She took in the situation and went and borrowed a ladder, climbed up and over the railing, and opened the door for me.