"Well," I say, "I have lunch from twelve to one on mine." I point to the square labeled lunch. " Do you want to eat with us?"
Jane purses her lips. "Hmm." She stares at the gridded schedule, squints her eyes. "Umm. Yeah. That sounds good." She nods, chin jutted. I pencil in LUNCH across the twelve o'clock hour.
"Alright. And I have an hour of silent reading after lunch. Do you want that on yours?"
She cocks her head. "No, I'll do that before bed."
"It's not pleasure reading," I say. "It's reading to become an expert at something. I'm gonna do mine right after lunch. You sure you don't want to? You can always still pleasure read before bed."
I nudge. She eddies. A center of gravity shifts between us, a small weight of freedom. Side by side, there on the table bench, we write the new year schedule. Piano, spelling, literature, history and math, we write them into time slots. We map our wishes. And we both sense it, something inside of her wants to decide.
"You know, reading so we can become a world expert at something," I say.
"Oh, um," she pauses. "Okay, one to two?" I write SILENT READING opposite one o'clock.
"What day would you like your piano lesson? I'm available Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday." I trace the slots.
"And spelling, do you want your lesson first?"
"How long does it usually take you for Spanish?"
"Fifteen, twenty minutes," she seesaws her head with inexactness. She seems to like the feel, the stretching of that muscle of discernment. We form a necessary pause, move on.
"Cursive, reading lesson, and math facts, which do want first."
"How 'bout cursive."
"And how long does that take you?"
She bites her bottom lip, tilts her head, seesaws again. "Oh, 'bout fifteen minutes."
Math facts and sentence diagraming, grammar and sketch, we them take out one at a time, each a small symbol of authority, authority over herself. I hand them off. She hands them back. We smooth them together into the schedule.
"I had you go first," I say, "because your schedule is the most complex." I smile the tiniest bit but hold that measure of adultness between us.
Her face softens, eyes wells of gratitude. "Thanks."
She hands it back, that smooth stone of authority, the ace of trust.
5076. "Mom, can Jack have a pen for his roosty bar?" Myra fields supplies for Jack's roosting bar.
5077. Jack cleans his room to perfection with absolutely no micro-managing.
5078. I serve peppermint popcorn. Jack offers the best serving to Jane, the gesture so silent I almost miss it.
5079. "Jesus," Myra prays on Dec. 30th, "thank-you tomorrow will be Christmas Eve, and it will go good."
5080. Jane comes down with croup. Winter air, hot shower, we quell the tight throat.
5081. Lucy spikes a fever 106.8 º F. Lukewarm shower and ibuprofen, we quench the fever.
5082. Iron skillet, 6 ½ inches.
5083. Wind in the Willows picture book.
5084. The Princess and the Goblin audiobook.
5085. A new thrifted skirt. A new hand-me-down sweater.
5086. Mom and I meet for coffee and conversation, advice and writing, perspective, friendship.
5087. "I've done something worse than that before," I tell Jack. "What?" he says. "I went somewhere with my zipper down," I say. "That's not bad," he says, "I've done that before."
5088. "Mommy," Jack says, "for at least a week I have had my jammies on day and night." And so we close the sick season -- I hope.
5089. We circle the first bend in the new year and rally for the glorious hard work ahead.
To the King.
To the Kingdom.
To the Restoration.