Sunday, October 6, 2013


"Adverbs tell," I say in sing-song voice, "how, when, where, how often, to what extent." I move my finger down a list, bullets next to each point.

The children encircle the farm table. Myra nods. Lucy leans in close. Her hair wisps the edge of the book.

"How, when, where, how often, to what extent." I repeat it three times. We lilt the rhythm.

I tracy my finger down the script. Myra burps Trella, her deaf dolly, over one shoulder. Jack rocks his chair. Jane traces her bottom lip.

"How, when, where, how often, to what extent," I say again, sculpting their memories once more before we move on.

"That sounds about like what I want to know about discipline," Jane blurts.

I look up, her face ivory, cheeks round apples, realization draped across the temples.

How, when, where, how often, to what extent.

"That is true," I stammer, a grin threaded over my lips. We sail into laughter. How, when, where, how often, to what extent. Discipline. Titter, hee-hee-haw.

"Can you write that on a paper for me?" she asks sea-sawed up on an elbow.


She fishes a pink sticky notes off the bookshelf. Adverbs tell, I print across the top.

"If someone's having trouble discipling," she chats, "this is what your kids want to know."

I form the list, hand her the note.

"Hm. I'm gonna go put this in my box," she says, "because it's totally true." Black turtle neck, blue jeans, she hops from her chair, each step a roll off the ball of her foot, her curls trill around her elbows.

Jack guffaws, then drums out, "How-of-ten, to-what-ex-tent," leaned belly-up on the table, ankles hooked over the chair-back.

"I'm gonna go upstairs," Myra announces, "'cause I have to pee."

"Ok," I say.

Jane passes her in the hall, trots to the high-back chair. "There's no way a kid can have a good mind without thinking that," she patters under her breath.

I continue on. We diagram a sentence, and another, a whole arching oak of sentences. We sling adverb on like leaves on a tree. And all the while I hold that circlet of discipline in my palm, wonder what to do with it.

How, when, where, how often, to what extent.

I trace it, turn it over, smooth it between my fingertips, invisible, warm.

How, when, where, how often, to what extent.

Discipline. Yes, discipline is action. They're mapping the action, a regular topographical map of action, every stroke measured, memorized, profiled, tucked away for later.

I feel their eyes on me.

I stand a little taller, step a little closer, and gaze into their eyes, deep wells of curiosity. I plan to make the terrain memorable.


4860. Chicken soup from scratch.

4861. Black rice.

4862. Tuesday at Mom's, tomato bisque.

4863. Pizza, kale salad, five conversations interlaced at once, gusts of laughter, chocolate coconut bonbons, family around the table.

4864. "Mom, I like moldy grapes," Myra says. "How do you know?" I say. "'Cause I like moldy bread," she says. "Oh," I say.

4865. "Life is glimpse of a dream, isn't it, Momma?" Jack says. "Why do you say that?" I say. "'Cause Heaven is our house, right?" he says.

4866. Joe sprays himself with the water dispenser. "Oh, WOW," he says.

4867. He finally realizes that when in trouble, just say, "Ok," for best results.

4868. "Um, no, you are not supposed to be on the chicken coop, girls," I call out the window on the first sunny day all week. "Do not fall getting down."

4869. Emma goes on a gramma-date.

4870. "Sometime I'm even gonna do sketches for FUN," Lucy comments on her art class homework.

4871. "Before he got his temper I gave him a hug," Jane rescues Joe from a tantrum.

4872. "Um, he's not very faithful to his bed," Jane evaluates Joey's transition to the big-boy bed.

4873. "Mom, Dad says I look like an angel," Lucy blusters into the bathroom. "You do," I say. "Dad says we look both like angels," Myra trots in behind her. "You do," I say. "We aren't actually angels, but we look like angels," Lucy clarifies.

4874. I finally have a honey bulb for the honeypot and a soap grate for the soap holder.

4875. "You're such an outlandish creature," Jane taunts Jack in a game of handball.

4876. We all go to the latest gallery opening and stay until it closes. Worth Fighting For -- the title of the new show. It's so true, you never feel more alive than when you are doing something brave. Courage and camaraderie swell.

4877. "Jesus, thank-you that I was able to do Bobbley study," Myra prays. "Thank-you that I knowed what to say."

4878. "Lucy, what are you eating?" Craig queries while I'm on my morning run. "Sugar. We all are," she says. "Ah. You are going to have to tell Momma about that when she gets home," he says. "Oh," she says.

4879. Jane resumes her volunteer schedule and joins Craig at work.

4880. Buttered popcorn, real butter.

4881. Sunday. We slide into Sunday like home plate and prepare for another week.

1 comment:

  1. Sunday. Home plate. Makes Sabbath sound like a home run.

    "I stand a little taller, step a little closer, and gaze into their eyes, deep wells of curiosity. I plan to make the terrain memorable."

    Not proactive, reactive or non reactive, though at times it may be any of those. It is about leading all the time.