Thursday, August 26, 2010
They gather berries, cup their palms like bowls. Lulie squeezes hers and runs for the swings. Short legs run double time. They huddle, the three of them. Jane scoops smushed berries and counts, "One for you, one for you, and one for you." They watch each berry lob onto piles.
And then the bell. I ring Gramma's little silver bell, the one from her hutch all those years.
The dinner bell. They freeze. The berries, what about the berries? Janie squares her shoulders, "Okay guys," she says, "how 'bout we just set it down here and eat like pigs." They grab for berries. Sweetness dribbles on their chins.
Later, my flowers crackle into shaggy zinnia heads. I weave the children into quiet nap-corners. "Head to bed," I say. "Tuck yourself in for nap."
Janie lingers, casts questions like nets. I eddie in the current, wait. She stops. "Jane," I say.
"But Momma, but Momma," she chidles.
"Jane," I say, "You can have self-discipline, or you can have Mommy-discipline."
"Hmm," she sets her head to one side, "that's kind of a hard choice." And yet, she cradles a book in elbow and slips down the back hall, climbs her bunk and settles into the afternoon.
I slice cherry tomatoes in the kitchen. Each globe splits into a perfect circle. Self-discipline. I picture Jane up on that bunk. Six years old. Discipline. I prepare myself to let her go.