Thursday, August 6, 2015

And Just Like That


I have a 5th, 3rd, and 1st grader.

You'll be shocked to hear that I'm feel extra-contemplative today. For the past week, I've been walking around saying, "I feel like they just got out for summer vacation," to which Cory replies, every single time, "I feel like they've been out forever."

How is this possible? Where does the dad come up with this nonsense?

Staying in the mixed-up vein of my reality, I wasn't ready to see them go. (Say what?)

I don't know. It makes no sense. Toward the end, we were all dangling precariously from a very fine thread. But, for reasons I don't even understand and certainly can't explain, we had a great summer together. Of all the summers we've shared, this is the one where I've felt most present and we've had (it seems?) the most concentrated time together.

Aside from our vacation, we didn't do anything super extraordinary. There was no elaborate crafting. I didn't plan scavenger hunts or theme days. We didn't even make a summer bucket list.

Honest to goodness, I don't have a clue about what we did.

But it sure was nice.

There was plenty of angsting and there are always tears (at some point.) Calvin has started helping me cook more, and is actually at an age where he's helpful. Two days ago, the kids made me breakfast in bed - pancakes cooked on the griddle with chocolate chips in the shape of a smiley face. He went to violin lessons and tae kwan do. He took bike rides by himself around the neighborhood and even across the busy street. Sometimes, he rode back with friends in tow. He read so many books and felt conflicted about his emotions. He's ten, and we're all feeling it. Most of the time, it feels pretty great.

Ruby keeps on keepin' on with her bad self. She's my adventurer, my shy girl who would fly straight to your house and stay for a couple weeks without thinking twice. She has the heart of an opera singer, but speaks so softly that I'm forever asking her to repeat herself. She rides horses with her gram and zooms down the basement stairs in an old sleeping back with Si. She teaches herself to knit, and displays the patience of Job when it comes to her brothers. I could swear she's getting a rogue Venus gleam in her eye when she wields her tennis racket.

Silas. I mean, that kid. He's playing with the neighbors for decent stretches of time in which no fighting/physical violence/crying ensues. He asks me every single day if he can have whatever bottle/container/empty milk jug he sees me holding. He wants them all. Every container in every shape. All of them. All the time. He wants them for "'speriments" or just to haul around filled with water, ideally colored water, but whatever. He loves us all so fiercely that he sometimes can't contain himself. Every couple of days he flings himself upon me and says with intense earnestness, "Mommy, thank you for choosing me! I just love my family!" which makes me almost forget about the day he climbed up, grabbed the gas can for the mower, and dribbled "seasoning" all over his dirt pie and grass salad.

It's 9:38 a.m. and for the past eight weeks, we'd just now be finishing up breakfast and trying to figure out how we'll possibly spend the long day ahead of us. There would be grumbling and someone might be crying somewhere. But on this day, I've already been more productive in the past two hours than in the past ten days combined.

I'm so honored to be the mom of these wild, smallish people. They have schooled me in many ways this summer, and I've been taking notes.

Right now they sit in desks somewhere, just a block and a half up our street, bringing light to the corners where God sent them. He told our family to stand over here, on a broken street that doesn't look quite as broken as it did three years ago. He told Calvin, Ruby, and Silas to stand inside Chamberlain Elementary, and they do it with enthusiasm and (usually) humility.

I know we go back to school earlier than most of you, so here's my advice, for what it's worth: Leave your phone on the charger and commit to memory the long days in front of you where they keep asking to play Mine Craft or watch tv shows. Keep kicking them outside and making threats about what will happen if they come back in one more time. "Popsicle" and "rules" do not mutually coexist - there are worse things to say yes to. Do everything. Do nothing. Rue your messy house every single day, but don't sweat it. This is not the day for order or clutter-free surfaces.

Be scheduled. Be lax. Just be. Together.

When it's time, send them out. Know in every fiber of your heart and soul that God has a plan for them, one that He orchestrates with them, individually. He's got them, and they're good. Grab a cup of tea, clean the kitchen, and, you know, maybe dust off that book you're supposed to be writing (cough cough).

Today, August is the land, and we are all the living.