Sunday, June 08, 2014

We're even

It was a crazy, messed up, beautiful day. The kind of day that begs you to go outside and do something, even if all you can muster is to sit on the porch and drink coffee.

Cursing the pollen.

It was a beautiful day despite the sudden rain shower. And the low drone of constant bickering. And forgetfulness that ebbs and flows from morning to night like a tidal creek.

It's the kind of day that has you rushing around in the middle of it, trying to pretend you hadn't forgotten today was the big game … or the dress rehearsal … or the day you volunteered to chaperone.
You are right, I am certainly not the boss of you, child. But I'm not your employee, either. I'm not the unpaid caretaker of your misplaced library books, or the scout who knows by intuition where your uniform has disappeared to in the dark and overgrown forest that is your room.

But go ahead, kids, keep assuming I'm clairvoyant.

I'll keep sending you on wild goose chases. It amuses me.

I'm pretty sure I saw the dog playing with your cleats under our bed. Bring a flashlight. … And a dust mop.

Oh, I kid. … the kids.

Like the time she called me into her room in a panic, certain the cat napping on her bed was a doppelganger – a look-alike imposter who came in through the dog door on a rainy day.

Well .. I didn't kid her too much. I had my hands full trying to compare iris markings with family photos.

Of course, beautiful days aren't perfect. They can be filled with confounding contradictions. Like the moment, you notice the tiny fist-like buds of your peonies raised to the sun. Until you bend down to breathe in the fragrance and the sight of an army of red ants – trying to pry open each pink, silken finger – punches you in the gut.

Maybe it was the promise extended by such a summer-coming day that had me thinking about all the oppositional forces at work. Summer dangles itself like a carrot for some and looms over others like a long procrastinated chore.

Scrubbing the toothpaste globs from the kids' bathroom sink, for instance.
Minor quibbles, really.

Well … except for the rainbow-colored wad of chewing gum one of my moon-faced cherubs used to cement the toothbrush holder to the counter of the vanity. That one wasn't such a minor quibble.

That one required chisels and a permanent moratorium on chewable (but not swallowable) confections.
Not that I can't handle the grossness that perpetually oozes out of childhood's every crevice.

I've had all the inoculations, and stamps in every page of this passport.

Of course, that could be why I've been walking around in a haze. The half-sleep that would make me think I was a new parent were it not for the reality I am an old parent, whose kids are becoming more independent.

Who can do things like reach the shelf with the glasses and pour their own milk … when I remind them – for the eightieth time today – they are not the boss of me.

Say it with me: “I will not cry over spilt milk.” It's truly liberating.

“We're late,” I yell as I herd them out of the house. “Get in the car. Put on your seat belts. I'll be right there.” I scramble to find keys and wallet and gear we should probably just leave in the car. My mind is a blank as I grab items and stow them in a bag. A bat. A glove. A stuffed bear with a heart-shaped pillow.

No water bottle.

I run out the door and down the stairs.

It's cramped, the car is filled with things I should have donated yesterday, but I can just make out Ittybit's head in the center row. Seatbelt in place.


I start the car. Ease it backward out of the garage. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly.

My daughter laughs. …

“Aren't you forgetting something?”

“I don't think so ...”

“How about my brother?”


She laughs and laughs. Giddy and eager to tell the story to anyone who will listen if we ever manage to make it to Little League.

“Just remember … I may have forgotten your brother, but you thought your cat was an imposter. I think we're even.”

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