"Hey Momma, do you think I'll be enough responsible by Saturday?" Jack says.
Snuggled cheek to cheek, I turn, look into his azure eyes. Me there at the bunk ladder, him reclined on top bunk, our eyes mingle. "'Cause I'm gonna do the same thing as today," he says, "cleaning and stuff."
I picture the sierra of dishes he excavated from the sink, the ridge of laundry off the couch, the spindrift of Legos and Lincoln Logs, the bluff of snow pants and hats washed in the back door, all unearthed and quarried into drawers and baskets, put away.
"Probably," I say. "I have to see it happen first." Cookies. He wants permission to make cookies. Half-smile, his arm a warm bandanna curved around my neck, the moment eases in legatto cadence, that slow birth of responsibility there before us.
"Ok," he says, his eyes content.
"Sleep good." I kiss his forehead, wiry reddish hair brushes my cheek. "Love you."
He squeezes me tight around the shoulders. I feel a reserve of strength, sinewy muscle, something man-ish and immovable.
"Love you, Momma." His voice soft and responsive like reigns on a stallion, he smiles tenderness into my eyes.
I replay the glasslike blue of his eyes, that mazarine resolve. I stare at that steadfastness, that defiance turned inside out. I marvel that this is strength. Obedience. Self-restraint.
He rises to the occasion and wields something better than permission to make cookies: the strength to be worthy.
5177. I go to wake Joe Monday morning. He beams, buck naked, jammies and a poopy diaper discarded on the floor.
5178. Ceris and the boys come to sled. Arctic bliss, the children cataract down the sled run, snot icicles forgotten in the boyish romp.
5179. Cerissa and I chatter over coffee and the next steps of my patchwork quilt. We plan and scheme, and I settle on the perfect idea.
5180. Craig lets me shop the winter sales and update my wardrobe. Some dresses and skirts, I feel like a little girl playing dress-up again.
5181. We go to the latest gallery opening. The children amble by the artwork, enjoy the hors d'oeuvres, and linger. We actually linger as a family.
5182. I take Myra on a date. "My tummy probably hurts because I need more chocolate chips," she says.
5183. "The Holy Spirit is LIGHT," she tells me."Him looks like Jesus. And he loves us," she says.
5184. I go out with Lucy too. I ask what I can be praying about for her. "My eye," she says, "that's really the only thing."
5182. Myra tries her had at spelling and tags Joe with a new nickname: J-E-O. "J-E-O," she shouts. "Hi, J-E-O. That's J-E-O."
5183. She shows him how to eat popcorn with a spoon.
5184. "Why do you sound sort of upset?" Jack says as I all but stop down the hallway. "Ugh," I sigh, "'cause I'm being a pill. I'm actually really being a pill." Honesty wins the day.
5185. Jane, Jack, and Lu make apple crisp for the family. Swept up in my quilt and dinner prep, I offer no oversight. It turns out delicious.
5186. Jane and Jack pass my responsibility tests and then finally make peanut butter cookies. They polish the kitchen clean and hope upon hope they get permission again.
5187. "There was a boy at church that said two plus two was FIVE," Lucy says. "I guess he's probably not a plus expert."
5188. "Jesus," Jane prays, "please help us when we do something wrong to be able to feel that it's wrong so that we don't keep on doing it. Amen."
5189. Yes, to feel that it's wrong, to feel that it's right, oh to be fine tuned in this. I pray my spirit heeds the slightest pull.