"This morning when you went on your run, it was the first time I ever really did this thing," Jane in the backseat, pulls the first strand of conversation, "like really, truly, did this, and it was SMELL SPRING." We sigh up to a red stop sign at the edge of our neighborhood.
"So," I say, "what does spring smell like, Jane?" A black Mazda whizzes by. I wait for an opening in traffic.
"It's hard to explain." I hear her shuffle our secret bottle chocolates to Joey's infant seat, cork still secure. "Sort of like flowers. Sort of like dirt." Her words spaced and elongated, an opening in traffic sails by but I lull and miss it. "It's hard to explain," she says again. I nose down to the corner and zip out behind an ochre bronco. The engine murmurs. We lighten down the busy road.
"Hmm." The light, warm and amber, the air, sharp and hawkish, we swish along.
"It smells like pine needles too," the question still a snaggle, she searches for the right image. "It's sort of a gentle sweet-ish smell," she attempts.
Gentle and sweet-ish, we like this, a killick hitch between us. And thus begins a cataract of conversation, an overrunning, overflowing drencher. We visit and weave gossamer thread after gossamer thread. We wrap and wrap and revisit all the loose ends and snags, freckles and blotches, of the last two weeks. And I make a discovery.
"I want you there 'cause I feel alone," she says. "Not lonely. I can't feel lonely, just alone."
"What do you mean you can't feel lonely?"
"I can be alone like by myself, but I can't feel sad and down and lonely."
I take this in, replay her confident shrug as she strolls into Sunday class. I recall that her best classmate is the Deaf boy she sits next to in the back row and how she chased away the rude kids that were sitting next to him. "Wow. That's great." For all my devotion to transparency, I wonder if I should say more.
"Do you?" she says.
Like fresh fruit thrust in my mouth, I decide to tell her. "Sometimes I feel discouraged, but that's just my personality." But as I say it, a thought occurs to me. Maybe I could change it. She reminds me of her father.
The afternoon weaves itself into evening darkness. We skitter on home.
"Momma I just really, really needed this time," she says. "I've realized that if I don't get this time, I, I get in bad-temper."
"That's a good observation," I watch the road curve toward home.
"It's like the only time I get to just talk and talk and talk and tell you anything I want," she says. And so the words flow, whole river gushers of words. "I would even just like it if we could go to some old parking lot and just sit and talk." I nod. "I like this day more than any other," she says. Me too. Every word spoken between us makes the day special.
Every child. Every word. Every day.
4207. "Momma, Myra has a beard of toothpaste," Jane calls.
4208. "Mommy, what are those crumbs coming down?" Myra gestures to the first signs of snow. "There are crumbs coming in the car!"
4209. "Why do you think I am so tired of patching?" Lucy asks, tears in her eyes.
4210. Cerissa and the kids show up for a walk to the park. We eat brownies and stroll in the sun. We visit like the day could last forever.
4211. Grandad takes Jane to donuts. She comments that, "It's pretty easy to understand stuff after Mom explains it about a thousand times."
4212. Stripy jacket.
4213. Face cream.
4214. Hambone soup at Mom's. The girls pray. The children linger. We stretch out the time as long as possible.
4215. Joey turns 11 months and cuts tooth #1.
4216. Lucy plays TRAP with Craig. "YAY, I did NOT give up," she says. "I'm sort of sweating though."
4217. I have dinner with the family before heading to small group. "God thank-you for a good day," Jack prays. "And please help Mom learn more about God. Amen."
4218. "Tootin' makes you poop your pants," Myra advises.
4219. The kids and I plan a Seder Meal.
4220. We write down our family vision statement (see sidebar).
4221. One of the kids tosses a dolly out of the kitchen. "Don't throw my babies," Myra shouts. "Dat hurts them."
4222. Myra keeps asking if we are going to have angel pie at the Seder Meal.
4223. She spies the challah bread rising and riles, "Mom, MOM, it's bigger. Angel pie's BIGGER."
4224. We have the Seder Meal. All the fellowship and laughter, we chatter on and on. The children host a group game. Celebration, all celebration. We land at the end of the night exhausted and happy, every guest treasured.
4225. Three weeks in, Rockie passes the halfway point with the spica cast. Libby orders Top Dog to celebrate.
4226. I try to open my bedroom door, and Lucy stops me. "I promise you I'll put all the stuff away that I get out," she says before I encounter the doll party on the other side.
4227. Miss Lynne retells the Seder Meal in sign language with the kids.
4228. I find knitting looms for the kids with my mom. The cataracts of conversation continue, now me the daughter.
4229. Jack comes to life in the wrestling season's first Take-Down Tournament. All said and done he follows our instructions: Never give up, never, never, EVER give up.
4230. "When I get up, I get up. Because I do." Myra philosophizes.
4231. My cousin Sophie joins us for chicken sandwiches and cranberry salad. Jane bakes a continent of apple-bluberry crisp to top off dinner.
4232. "Wanna smell those?" Myra thrusts a pair of gray damp-ish sports socks to my nose. "Those are CLEAN," she blurts.
4233. "I got huge hands, Mom," she says later. "An' I got huge eyes. Bigger an' bigger."
4234. Jude turns four. All gusto and endearment he hugs each guest for their gifts. Love.
4235. Today's my dad's birthday. He brings out the best in everyone -- even more every year.
4236. "Guys," Myra says, "I can't wait for summer. Summer means we go to Grammie's house."
4237. Tomorrow the kids and I start a new unit study on the establishment of early human government. I feel excited to learn new things.