Hot Doggies

I want to eat it the doggie

…turning 49

This progression is a reflection of how we roll....

Somehow this one bothered me.  How in the world have I lived long enough to be one year away from 50?  Honestly, it seems like a second ago I was 22, wondering what my life would be, then trying to figure out what to do, then doing it, then having babies, and now here I am with a son almost as tall as I am.  There is no way you are a “young adult” at 50.  Steven Jobs just died in his 50s.  So I was dreading today a little bit.  Not a lot.  But definitely bugging me, and my idea was that I would like to start going backwards.  That way, in my mid-twenties, I could hang out with my kids, and we would be similar ages.  That would be cool, wouldn’t it?

But I have to tell you, it’s been an amazing day.  I think I was wrong.  Who cares what my age is?  I’m alive in this moment, and truthfully, that’s all any of us has, isn’t it?  I couldn’t want anything different except that my parents were alive and well and with us.  But I don’t have that option, and given what I do have, I’m struck by what a rich life I’ve been given.

Let me back up one step. This last year, or last two years, has been such a time of re-adjustment.  Maybe that’s not the right word.  When my dad died, my mom was still a vibrant, brilliant woman at the center of our family.  We didn’t realize at that moment that she had alzheimer’s, and that the disease would steal almost everything from her except her ability to eat.  That change has had ripple effects that have affected our family like tidal waves.  Where is our place in our family?  How do we do this without a center?  David is now living in two rooms of my mom’s house, but the rest of the large house that resonated with laughter and was filled with toys and books and pets is now quiet, and unkept.  It’s not the greatest place for my little Durham family now, so we’ve been trying to find our way into a new era.  I want the extended family relationships to continue, but how?  Do we now stay with sibs?

I’m coming back to my birthday, so stay with me!  I was in Salisbury last summer, and I drove past my mom’s street.  It had been a year since she had moved, a year since John would say “We have two homes—one in Salisbury and one in Durham.”  A year since we went there almost every week, being greeted like we were the best thing in the world.  Passing her street, seeing her house dark and quiet,  I said to Adam, “When do you think this is going to stop hurting so much? It’s so deep.”

We kept driving and went to my sister Phyllis’ house.  She had a big meal with the whole family.  My cousin had to leave early because of a 5k in the morning.  She invited me to come.  Mmmm.  Well, why not?  Phyllis offered to watch the kids, who would still be asleep.  I had been working out, regularly running on a tread mill.  Couldn’t hurt to try, right?  It was a new experience for me.  I’m NOT a runner or a racer.

It started at the track at Knox Jr. High.  Ironic I thought.  I had run around that track as a child.  We came up every year from the elementary school next door to run around it, and I was always last.  Honestly, last.  I’ve always had short legs, but still, it always stung a little bit, especially when I got lapped.

When the gong sounded, I was in the middle of the pack.  The early morning sun warmed my face, John Denver’s Montanna Sky blasted in my ears, thanks to my brother David’s ipod.

We all started.  I’m not sure I can describe this.  I was doing a new think in an old place.  We started by going past my elementary school.  I thought of my dad dropping me off every morning, and years later when my mom went there with Rosie and John when they were younger to play in the playground  We headed through the greenway, and I remembered John learning to ride his bike, my mom staying with Rosie as I ran behind him.  This was the bike John HAD to have.  My mom gave it to him for his third birthday, right after my dad died.   Then in the race we ran through a neighborhood called Eagle Heights, and I could envision the afternoons eating pop corn at my friends’ houses, and then past Carol Fisher’s farm where he drove my mom and kids around on his four wheeler chasing his goats.  All beautiful memories, but somehow in that moment, an awesome thing started to happen.  The day was so glorious!  My body was doing this thing called a 5k, and slowly the memories were being pushed back, replaced by the moment I was living.  Not pushed out, but eclipsed by the sun, the music, the community of healthy alive people, and my own body, able to run this race and NOT BE  THE LAST ONE!!!!!

It struck me then that there was something I should be understanding.  Learning about life, and how it works.  I knew the experience was sacred, but couldn’t put it into words.  It was just a 5k, remember?

Over time I realized that sometimes  current moment can redefine old places and old spaces of the heart. The sun rises every day, and it’s new every morning.

Such was the case this birthday.  It was a new day, no matter my age.  (Make you think of a who is a who, no matter how small?)

I realized only after Saturday night that we were supposed to have had a birthday party for me.  But instead, we ended up at the tennis courts.  Four courts full of people, all packed with kids, grandkids, in-laws and outlaws of Eddie Post (my dad).  He would have loved that.  My three brothers, my husband, but also my son.  Ten years ago?  I had my dad, but I didn’t have a son.  Awesome birthday party.

Then this morning we had a relaxed morning at my sister-in-law and brother’s house.  Later here at home I played Rapunzel with Rosie.  I was Cinderella, and I snuck away from the step mother and had a sleep over with Rapunzel.  As we layed there in the tower of the swingset, her look of love was so pure.  I thought, I have to remember this.  Then John asked me to play tennis with him, and we both were shocked when we hit it back and forth 30 times.  And I’m the one that missed it!  All the while, Adam was working, smoking me salmon for dinner, hiding the sweetest gift.  I was showered with handmade notes telling me how much they love me.  Bouncing bouncing bouncing….sugar, excitement, more bouncing.

Rosie must have made me at least five different things telling me how much she loved me, and John’s gift had a message on the back, “I love you for so many reasons….”

Today is good.  Today is amazing.  Sure I wish they were still babies.  I wish my parents were still healthy.  And I wish that my muscles still acted like I was 30.

However if I had any of that—or all of that—I wouldn’t have the gift that is today.

October 10, 2011 Posted by | birthdays, time is flying, transitions | Leave a comment

You know you have a child with ADHD when…

It’s almost 6pm, and we are supposed to be somewhere for dinner in five minutes.  Rosie and I are sitting at the table in the kitchen as she does her first reading log.  The phone rings.  It’s Nicole, Hannah’s mom, and she has 101 degree temperature.  We were just with them so I tell John about Hannah and ask him to go wash his hands.  “Please use warm water and do it for the whole length of ‘Happy Birthday to You.’ I know you don’t want to get sick.”

Rosie is struggling.   I’m grateful for John’s compliance as he asks from the sink, soap to his elbows, if he is doing a good job. I can barely see him from where we are sitting.

“Yes, that’s awesome!”

When Rosie and I are done and walk into the kitchen  to wash our hands, I stop in my tracks.  I was so focused on Rosie that I had forgotten the sink was holding a huge pot of spaghetti sauce. I spent the afternoon making it then letting it simmer.  It’s cooling, sitting in the center of a sink filled with water.

There’s water everywhere of course, like there always is when an eight-year-old boy does a great job washing his hands.  The counters, the wall, the sauce.  Hey, there were still six or eight spare inches in which to wash his hands.  So why mention there’s a giant pot of sauce in the way?  Honestly, maybe he didn’t even really notice it.

I try to skim the water off the top.  At first I am annoyed — how could he not notice?  Then I look closer.  There doesn’t seem to be bubbles in the sauce.  It doesn’t look soapy.  We are late.

“Forget it,” I say.

I stir it in.

“We’re eating it tomorrow regardless. I’ll boil it again to kill any germs or soapy taste.”

I stick it in the fridge.

I made the spaghetti sauce, using the basic recipe I learned from my  mom.  She learned it from her Italian neighbor in the two years she lived in Mt. Vernon, NY when she was 22.  

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

If My Mom Could Talk

I want to write about taking John and Rosie today.  And I’ll do that, hopefully tomorrow, but right now, I would love for you to read my mom’s article.  She wrote this every year at the beginning of school.  This is a copy that her editor sent me.  It’s from two years ago when John started kindergarten.  I miss her so much today.  I know she would understand this transition of sending my baby to school.  And she would say something comforting and wise to me.  But instead she barely talks now, and Im’ not sure if she knows me most of the time.  I don’t know if it’s that, or just the deep truth of what this article says, but I love it.  So I wanted you to see it too.  Our children are precious, and we are handing them off.

August 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Blueberries

“I HATE being the Blueberries!” John whined from the back seat.  It’s late, and we are on the way back from Vacation Church School.  The car is dark, and the four of us — our little pack — are gathered and tired.

VCS is running all week in the evening, and I’m one of the shepherds for John’s group.  In the past we’ve been given cool names, like the Lions or the Donkeys.  Lions can ROAR!  But this year we were given colors. So today we decided the groups needed names.  Adam and Rosie’s group, the Red Group, became the Red Wigglers.  Very cool for a bunch of four and five-year-olds.  Adam made that decision, which was probably the way to go. But I let our group create the ideas and vote on a name.  Big mistake (in retrospect) for a group where there are lots more girls than boys.

The name the Blueberries beat the Blue Saints 8 to 7.  That included kids and shepherds.  So Blueberries it is.  Back to our trip home….

“I just can’t STAND that name.  Can’t we change it?  The blue peeps?  The blue anything but Blueberries!”

“I can see why you feel that way. That’s not such a great name,” I say to John.  Turning to Adam beside me in the front seat I explain, “Problem is there are only three boys.  Then there are ten girls in our group, so it was a tough situation.”

“Yeah.  Girls! Ugh. That’s the problem.  Mom, can’t we change it?”

“John, I’m sorry.  I can’t change it.  But I see the problem.  I just won’t use a name, ok?  I’ll just say, ‘Let’s go guys….'”

“Uuuhhhh. You would think the world was ending.

Adam has his feet on the dash.  “Blueberries. ”  He says slowly.  ” They are sweet.  Not so bad John.  They’re round.  Delicate.  You can squeeze them.  You can eat them.  Or crush them.  <pause> Yeah, very girl.”

“All those girls.  MMMMmmmmmoooooommmm, you have to change it.”

“John, I know it’s a hassle to have all those girls around now, but believe it or not, a day will come when you will love this situation.”

“Never!”

Adam chimes in, “Yep, someday, John, ten to three will get your attention.”

“No way, I just won’t ever let that happen to me.”

Adam continues,  “No, John, you will. You, or something within you, will let that happen.”

“John, that seems impossible doesn’t it?” I say.  “You ought to try to remember this moment, like with Cam Jansen, say ‘click.’  And remember how you feel right now.”

John almost shouts, “It doesn’t happen to everybody.  I will NEVER like girls!  Blueberries.  Ugh.  Never!  I just won’t ever allow that to happen to me.”

Rosie seems to wake up.  She chimes in for the first time, shouting as loud as she can, “It’s not up to you.  God is going to do it to you!  It’ll just happen!”

Adam continues in his dry humor, half to himself, half to John…..”Yeah, John, I’m just going to tell you now, that someday, it will happen to you.  It will be a powerful force, one that speaks to you from deep inside, one that will rival and perhaps extinguish all other thoughts.  With a kind of relentlessness. A berry, yes. Something that will tell you that each girl is delicious – like a berry.  You’ll decide, ah, that’s juicy.”

I give him a sideways look and quietly say, “Adam…..”

Silence from the back seat.

“Mom, how about the Blue People?”

This was how we arrived at church at 6pm last night…..two sleepers and one wired!  Pretty true to character for all involved:-)

June 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Counterbalance

What a day.  Rosie had her first ever hair cut followed by an up-do.  John had his hair cut and how to spell it, moussed?  And then we went to our summer discovery zone — the pool.  The joy that happens for us at the pool never ceases to amaze me.  I know that there will be a day that I take a book to the pool or even just drop off the kids.  But at this point, I leave the books at home and am grateful for it.  Yesterday Rosie discovered a discarded toy that would float for at least 20 seconds before sinking to the bottom.  So she started throwing it into the water, jumping in after it, and getting it.  This is a NEW thing.  Being able to swim and be somewhat confident opens new worlds.  Then you can go off the slide.  The diving board.  The possibilities are endless.

The amazing part is the pure joy.

We were there at 4:45 because the kids had swim lessons starting at 5:30.  In Salisbury there was a meeting about my mom’s meds.  I could have been in the meeting via a conference call. But I had to be here, Rosie flinging herself into the water with abandon and joy as John, newfound freedom in the board area, does his new back dive.  There are so few moments of discovery this raw, and right now I get to share fully.  This too shall pass, and I want to live it.  Or grab it and growl, as my friend Janet would say.  Also, since I trust my sibs to make good decisions, I really think my mom would want me in the pool.

Ok, I can’t photograph the pool.  IF I could, it would be that moment when Rosie is flying through the air, arms and legs flying, leading with her chest as she catapults toward the water.  But I can show you some images of Rosie, after 5 1/2 years of never getting her hair cut, getting her first experience with the added bonus of the updo.  She had that, “I can’t believe it’s my turn!” look on her face.  She asked which way to cross her legs if she wanted to do it like a grown up.  Then when someone there asked her if she was going to miss me when she went to school, she emphatically said, “NO!”  She can’t wait for that, like for this:

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saying Goodbye

I wish my mom were here to help me face and deal with this time of losing her.  I walked into the Carrillon, the residential facility where she now lives, and she was about four feet from the  locked door I let myself in.  Her eyebrows went up, and she was so happy for about ten seconds.  She knew it was someone she loved, and to the degree that her expression could look familiar with a sunken face with no teeth and eyes half shut, it looked like my mom saying hello to me!  That was such a gift.  Then it was gone.  She doesn’t want to wear her teeth, so her face is sunken.  After shuffling the halls for a twenty or thirty minutes, I fed her lunch.  Her eyes stayed closed most of the time.  There were only two more moments the whole visit when it felt like she was there.  I paused with her in the hallway, pulled her close and said quietly “Mom, I love you so much.  So much.”  She said, “I love you back.”  Then I got a series of kisses, quick ones.  Then we kept walking.
And this was a good day.  Two 20-second moments of recognition in a 1.5 hour visit. A banner day.

Adam told me tonight that he only gets one kiss.  I get about eight:  kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss….quick ones.  John gets that too, on his head.  Adam said she reserves only one for in-laws.  So maybe she knows more than we think she does.  But honeslty, it feels vacuous.  It hurts so much.
This is so hard.

Back when I was photographing the New River, frequently I could only get country music on the radio.  I loved a Patty Lovelace song about saying goodbye.  The chorus went:

Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same
And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?

The main help I have is the beauty of life here in Durham — the moments of our lives here at 911, which is what I created this blog to record.  When I was at the peak of shooting for the Geographic my parents were interviewed about their lives.  I’ll never forget one answer my dad gave the interviewer.  She was asking about his marriage, and she asked dad if there was anything he really wished would happen that hadn’t.  Out of the blue he said, “I wish Susie would get married and have kids.”  It was a shock.  But today, dealing with my dad being gone and losing my mom, I’m so grateful for Rosie, John and Adam.  They keep me in the game.  Dad was smarter than I knew at the time.

Want to hear the song?  Here”s the url.  I’ve been listening to it lately and Rosie begged me tonight to let her listen to it as her goodnight story….  Anyway, you’ll have to cut and paste this url because I can’t figure out how to make the link work.  But listen….it’s very to the point:

http://s0.ilike.com/play#Patty+Loveless:How+Can+I+Help+You+Say+Goodbye:66594:s307368.27682.12568408.0.1.85%2Cstd_95b4e951dfb569f98adf1ec0719fe2b2

Hard to believe this was her last birthday:

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

End of an era….I didn’t realize

(written 7/2/09)

This morning as I heard Adam leave the bedroom, I didn’t want to move or open my eyes.  I was a sandwich.  On one side Rosie was sleeping, her body completely relaxed and folded into mine.  On the other side, John had climbed in and pressed in tight.  Not tangled in with his limbs like Rosie, but in a full body press.

While I might have imagined in the past that this would feel oppressive, it isn’t.  Not at all.  More like breathing in flowers in the spring or tasting your first summer tomatoes straight off the vine.  Completely delicious.  So I laid there and enjoyed  drinking it in, the natural way that your children’s bodies are connected to and familiar with your own.

As Adam was still partly in the room, the thought floated through my mind, “So much of what is important to me is right here, right now. I am so fortunate.”

Meanwhile, both kids were in camp this week. This is the only week of the summer that they are both gone.  I knew I had to pick my project because there are so many things I could have tackled.  Lately I’ve noticed that the kids’ rooms really weren’t their rooms.  Makes it easy for visitors.  They were more of adult guest rooms with some baby toys and books that the kids had long outgrown.  The box of outgrown clothes was overflowing.  You have to wonder — have I looked, really looked, at this space recently?  I had picked up the bedspread from Rosie’s room in PEI in 1997, the year I met Adam.

So the project I took on for the week was to straighten out their rooms, and turn them into a place that belonged to them, not to us.  Not to our storage needs.  I started with sorting out clothes, toys, old stuff.  Did I really find a diaper genie in Rosie’s room?  (Yes.)  I looked around, did some purchasing.  A friend, Avalyn came to visit and agreed to help.

Then this morning, when they were both gone, Avalyn and I went to work, going as fast as we could.  We got rid of the old toys, put together furniture, unrolled rugs, made beds with new bedspreads.  Rosie LOVES pink and purple, along with “all the colors of the world,” but really pink and purple are “it.”  John has recently come into his own — he can pick off varied pitches in baseball and shoot hoops with our eleven-year-old neighbor in the backyard. He LOVES sports.  Anything with a ball.

So Rosie’s room is pink.  She has a new bookshelf the shape of a little house, and a pink satiny bedspread.  I can’t describe it here and give it justice, but now it’s a little girl’s room, complete with a frilly lamp that has a heart shaped jewel on the end of the chain.  She came home from pincess ballet camp, and I told her to close her eyes.  She came in her room, and when she opened her eyes she couldn’t believe it.  Joy exploded on her face, but she turned and buried her head in my neck in disbelief, like an adult entering a surprise party.  She spent the next three hours searching the house for everything important to her so that she could get her room set up.

John came home later.  His room had already been fun, complete with a small trampoline and some drums.  So the transformation was less dramatic.  But when he saw his new sports bedspread and lamp, he couldn’t stop touching the balls on the bedspread.  His space.  Aaaahh.

For the past few years, we’ve lived a little like a family in the developing world, all piled together.  Rosie has always slept in our room.  John has slept in there for the past two years.  Even Samson.  Makes lots of room for guests, but out recent vacation opened the door for them to sleep in their own space.  I was hoping that this change would introduce the concept of them spending time in their own rooms, and maybe within the next year we could get them in there to sleep.

But it’s gone faster than we thought.

“I want to sleep in here tonight,” Rosie said, arms stretched wide across her satiny pink bedspread.

“Great,” I said.

In the midst of her set-up, Rosie came downstairs.  “Maybe if Sweet Doggie goes in my room with me, it won’t be scary.”  John saw a picture of a mummy two years ago.  He’s been scared to be in a room alone since.  It hasn’t fully rubbed off on Rosie, but the fear concept is there.

“Well,” I said, “maybe now that your room is all yours and is so special, maybe you could just decide that it’s a safe place.  Maybe you could decide it’s the safest place in the whole world — your place!  And you could go there to feel safe if something scares you.  Would that work?”

“Yeah,” she said, running back upstairs with another toy.

So bedtime comes.  Instead of all four of us piling into our bed to read, Adam and I each take a child to their own room.  They proudly turn on their lamps.  When it’s time to sleep, they each want to give it a try.

My  morning started sandwiched between my children, their warmth filling my heart.  Now they are both tucked in and sleeping deeply in their own rooms.  Didn’t realize what I was doing as I rushed to  screw together the particle board before they got home.  As I’ve said before in this blog, precious things end without notice.  So I guess all of us piled in reading and tangled up sleeping is ending.  Something new will start. I wonder what it will be.

(Well, it didn’t stick….more to come.)

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Imagination

(written 5/27/09)

Magic sparkly imagination dust must get sprinkled onto four-year-olds in their sleep.  Something like the pixie dust that Peter Pan shakes off of Tinker Bell to allow Wendy to fly.  I can’t see it, but I believe it’s there. And I’m learning from it.

When John was four, I frequently had acquaintances ask me if I had several other sons.  I knew at that point that John had been telling them about his brothers.  At any given time, he had between two and nineteen brothers.  The main brothers were named John, Aiden and Jackson, and their ages changed, depending on which cousins we had been playing with recently.  Some days they were seven, some days they were 23.  They were always adventurous, brave and fun.

Rosie is living IN the stories she hears. Today we began as Cinderella, the stepmother, Wastazha (Anastasia) and Wuzrella (Drizella). Then we progressed to Jasmine and Sleeping Beauty.  Followed by Jack and Annie — and part of the time we were Jack and Annie we were also mermaids that could live underwater.

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mac’s Visit

Getting ready this morning I heard Rosie wake up with a scream.  It was 7:25am.  We were running late, and I needed to get going.  But this was full on crying.  So I snuggled up beside her and pulled her to myself.  Her body melted into mine.

“Mommy!  Are you ok?  Are you going to die?  I don’t want you to die.”  Crocodile tears were coming down her face.

“Rosie, I’m ok.”

I wish I could remember her exact words.  But I can’t.  She was crying.  She was trembling.  She was clinging to me.  And she thought I was dying.

“Rosie,” I said.  “I’m ok.  I’m not going to die.  I’m right here.  You’re ok.”  I know I’m going to die, but hopefully Rosie can progress past four before she has to understand or deal with my mortality.

We rocked and cuddled and held each other close.  Slowly she calmed down.

Sunday Rosie stood on her tip toes on the pew to whisper into Adam’s ear, “Mac comes today.” Rosie was so excited.  Mac’s visits are always a highlight.  She has always adored John and Rosie, and they are like moths fluttering toward the light when she’s around.  Her love has been a constant for them, not to mention that she loves candy and toys.  So Sunday John and Rosie and I were about to drive to Greensboro to get my mother.  She was coming to visit for three days.

The first day she was here, Rosie insisted on being on Mac’s lap.  But this trip has been different.  More confused.  It’s not dramatic, instead it reveals itself in the little moments of the day.  Monday in the doctor’s office as we waited, Mac asked us, “Where is the other little boy who took the dog outside?”

Both kids looked at her.  “Maybe you mean Samson.  (our dog)  He’s a boy.” Rosie suggested.

Then Monday afternoon we went to Duke Park.  The adults sat on a wall very close to the car.  Rosie was on fire.  She discovered for the first time that she could do the big slides by herself.  Running barefoot full speed over the mulch, she wanted to go to the small playground at the bottom of the hill.  This is the same playground that Mac has LOVED playing with Rosie.  This week I told Rosie no, we couldn’t go down the hill.  I told John we couldn’t go watch the lacross players.  I didn’t want to leave Mac, and she couldn’t walk with us.  If I leave her with the other adults, she might not understand where she is.

Then tonight standing at the top of the stairs, kids underfoot, mom asks, “Where are we?”

“At my house.”

“Where?”

“We’re in Durham, Mom.”

“Why?”

“Because I live here.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Eight years.”

John lost Zeddie.  He remembers him, and we have pictures of John watching Zeddie try to breathe, pain on his little face.  John understood that our neighbor Billy died.  And Malvina was like a third grandmother who lived on our street.  She died last fall, and John went to her funeral. In his own five-year-old way, John understands loss.

Rosie lived through all that, and understood very little of it.  She kept asking if Malvina was back yet.  But she understands this.  She is losing her Mac.  Mac isn’t the same person she was even three weeks ago, and it scares Rosie.  Mac has figured large in my kids’ lives.  They’ve seen her a lot, almost every week.  Her home is their home away from home. If your grandma can change, and become someone who doesn’t act like your grandma, what else can crumble?

I’m not sure it was me Rosie was crying about this morning.

Hugs at Christmas, this past year.  Mac gave them both some of their favorite presents.

Hugs at Christmas, just six weeks ago. Mac gave them two of their favorite presents.

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nascar in the Pit

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Life lately has felt rushed.  We get up very early, head to two – sometimes three- schools most days. We go to Salisbury on the weekends.  Oh, we moved out of our kitchen, and now we are back in. Those lazy late morning days of summer feel as far away as the sweaty, hot days that made the pool a relief.  And in the midst, I wonder if we are enjoying each other.

Today was different.  John and Rosie were both out of school.  At breakfast we talked about whether to go see Mac in Salisbury or go to “Life and Science” (our awesome kids museum that’s only five minutes from home).  We settled on Salisbury, but after we got up from the table, we slowly started doing what we do when we have time at home.  I got the kitchen cleaned up.  The kids started playing.

When I got in the playroom, Rosie was balancing on the arms of a chair, reaching above her head to the third shelf for art supplies.  I decided it was time to reorganize and put those scissors, glue and markers within her reach.  So we started moving things around, making masks and beaded necklaces.

And before we knew it, everybody was hungry again.  So, I taught them to crack their own nuts.  One thing after another.  Rosie dug out the playdough while John was immersed in his playmobil pirates and castles.  As I put chairs together for our kitchen, I could hear them discussing whether this particular pirate was dead yet, and if so, if he needed to be buried in the playdough.  It was messy, but they were enjoying each other.

I just listened.  Lately the kids had been fighting so much.  Where was today coming from?  Was it having nothing that we had to do?  Was it my being completely available to them and not worrying about registration glitches  my student’s projects?

I kept thinking we would go outside, but it didn’t happen until 4pm.  We waited for it to start raining.  We finally headed to Life and Science, and when we got there, I herded everyone past the gift shop and the indoor exhibits to go outside.  Even in the rain, we needed to breathe air outside for a while.  I kept saying I wanted to see the bears.  Rosie was chiming in that there’s a new wolf.  So we headed that direction with John whining “Nnnnoooooo, not the bear.”

I didn’t care really what we did.  I just wanted our bodies to move.  After we greeted the domestic animals: the pig, donkey, sheep, cow and goat, John found an old pile of dirt.  It’s a frequent attraction for his friends, and it has shrunk in the last few years.  It’s probably four or five feet tall with a hole in the middle and on one side, as though they’ve used a big shovel to get some when they need it.  So I would say it looks a little like a miniature volcano.

John started running the rim.  Well, why not?  Soon we were all chasing each other around the rim, alternately running, skipping and walking.  “It’s a volcano!”  Whoa, he’s in the middle!  But you’re the water. (spray with water). Good, all better.  Running, running.  Down in the hole, up on the rim.  All in a circle.

The bear?  “No, it’s way better to play Nascar in the Pit!”

“OK, tell me more.”

“We’re Nascar drivers,” says John.  He lifts an elbow and uses his index finger to emphasize this point. “And we have to drive the inside of the course.”  He’s running below the rim, in circles. Rosie’s on the rim.  “No, you can’t run on the rim!”

Yes she can.  She’s the mechanic.  She fixes any of the cars that break down.  “Well, ok.”  Everybody is back to running.  Breathing hard.

We pause for a minute.  I look up, through the drizzle and see the bank of trees.  “Look at that, guys.”  Shades of muted yellow, orange, red and brown brown against the deep green of the pines that aren’t changing. We’re alone out there, cheeks are pink, and all I hear is our breathing.  It’s timeless and beautiful.

But it didn’t last long.  Nascar in the Pit is over. “Hey, do you want to be a skier or a snowboarder?  I’m a snowboarder!”  The swishing starts again, around the dirt pile.

“No, I’m a treeclimber,” Rosie says.  She starts marching the rim again, legs high, arms climbing.

“You can’t do that.  We’re on a ski slope,” John says.  Everybody is still going in circles.

“What if she’s on ski patrol?  She climbs trees to see if everybody is ok?” I add that one.

“Great,” says John.  “Better help this guy over here.  Rosie and I start to help John.  “No!  Him!”

OK.  Rosie and I carry a stretcher over to the woods and dump our guy into the hospital.  Back to the dirt pile.  Better keep going.  Might be more injured snowboarders.  John hasn’t paused.  He’s going.

Then it’s 5:05, it is still drizzling, and they are closing.  We head home and do the dinner thing with Adam, who reads to them calmly while I cook, and then its time for the bath.  After the bath the kids spring into John’s room and are jumping on the trampoline and the bed….we have one designated old bed we let them jump on….  Anyway, Adam and I both have the half-headache feeling of “why can’t this be easy?  I’m tired.”

They are springing into the air.  Doing somersaults, completely naked.  At least underwear would be nice.  “It’s time to do get dressed,” Adam says.

“But dad,” John says as his feet flip over his head.  “This is the fun of my life.”

I heard that.  In a different way than normal.  Here we adults stand, wishing we could rush through this and get them asleep.  But this is the fun of his life.  We are all together.  He and Rosie are conspirators instead of enemies.  I got it.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | rattlings in my head | , , | Leave a comment