YOUNG 'UNS by Celestine Sibley


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Anecdotal ruminations on children of all ages by the novelist and author of Small Blessings (1977) and other chronicles of Georgia domesticity. ""Patience may be the greatest package life can hand a mother--patience and humility and a listening heart."" But children also give you a ""stretch."" Sibley once found herself, with two possessed little girls, shaking the sweaty palm of Elvis--but she knew, from then on, what the fuss was about. Thanks to a jazz-fiend son, she partnered jazz-pianist Marion McPartland in pushing a stalled car. And it was one of her girls who insisted on family prayers--though there were often ""horizontal products"" too: ""God, please make Mary leave my best underpants alone."" Sibley reminisces about births and newborns: the suspenseful, rueful arrival of a grandchild (""Naturally I felt I was needed at the hospital and naturally I was not""); or, a 30-mile-drive through the night to check on another grandchild, hospitalized in a crib-death scare. Under Sibley's tolerant scrutiny, aggravations turn comic-side-up and family storms are mere blips. Thus, the Car Battles--when a son who'd had the car preempted became ""Kit Carson learning that Buffalo Pass was snowed in for the season""; the incessant Talk of the young--in a family of the ""kind who never gets in top conversational form until after midnight""; and Bedtime--when, in the self-congratulatory quiet, you hear ""the bottle hit the floor, the soft plunk of the teddy bear, the slats of the crib creak."" There are tributes--to Sibley's mother and an elderly cousin, two feisty, maddeningly ingratiating old parties; to the chivalrous niceness of ten-year-old boys (which may be a puzzlement to fifth-grade teachers). Pleasant, gently amusing recognitions--if a shade sweet (and a shade pricey, even today, given the slimness of the volume).

Pub Date: May 19th, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row