"Joe," I say, "Joe, come here."
"Yeah?" He trollops around a peninsula of kitchen cupboards.
"We have to stick together today," I say. I pat the table bench next to me, a small safety zone separate from general mischief. "To HELP each other," I say.
"Weeeelllll," he says, "can I play with Betsy in the sunroom?"
"What are you doing in there?"
"Throwing an ant in a spiderweb." He mimics my raised eyebrows, furrows his brow. "But the web is INSIDE," he adds.
"Well," I sigh, "where is it?"
"By the door. Can I?" he says.
Later he trollies past the kitchen, orange diaper bucket in hand.
"WHat are you DOing?" I say.
"Making a TENT," he says.
"With the DIAPER PAIL?" I say once again burrowing a furrowed brow into his blinking eyes.
"I don't want Betsy to BREAK the TENT," he says over-anunciating "break" and "tent". I blink. He blinks. "Maaaaaybe I will use a stool," he says and tromps off.
Later a clatter in the pantry. "What is that sound?" I call from the table.
"The oatmeal bucket," he says.
"Oh," I say.
"I keep needing BUCKETS," he says.
"For WHAT?" I say.
"For the TENT."
"Might have to switch to something ELSE," I say. He stares. I blink. The oatmeal bucket two feet tall and still slung over one arm, he blinks.
"Maaaaybe a stack of blankets instead," he says.
"Is this to keep Betsy out?" I say.
"I already have THAT," he says.
"Sounds like a lot to clean up," I say, my eyebrows creeping up my forehead again.
"I like," he sways. "I like," he frowns. "I don't CARE," he finally says. We grin an informal truce. The tent burgeons in the sunroom. Coverlets, quilts, blankies, two black stools, an empty bucket, and a rocking chair flesh out the tent.
I carry on with chores. He builds, then cleans. Something like work unfolds betweens us. We ride it like a trolly car, satisfaction like a lunchbox on the seat between us.
5984. A long week, Craig gone some of it, the kids and I band together. The house feels so empty when he's gone.
5985. In the void, the children and I talk and talk and talk. We map and frame their small worlds, memorize the important principles.
5986. We watch most of the Republican Convention and talk and talk and talk. Jane notes all the moves. I watch how she sees the move behind the move and generally assess the trajectory of ideas with accuracy.
5987. We find a feed of the convention without all the commentary and talking heads that tell you how to think. Just the speeches, please. Together, we make our own opinions. Everyone joins in. It's like a party.
5988. I find a recipe and make sourdough tortillas.
5989. The basement floods with a thunderstorm gully washer. I come face to face with how Craig shines in house emergencies and I, well, don't.
5990. We clean up the best we can, set up a fan, and heave a huge sigh.
5991. "Ya know," Joe says, "garbage-mans actually have HOMES." He watches the garbage truck with religious devotion and dreams of being a garbage-man one day.
5992. The baby kicks and kicks and kicks up a storm. Small reassurances.
5993. I sometimes help with dinner prep; otherwise the children make and clean up dinner.
5994. Many days I look outback to see Betsy marshaling a mass of blankets, babies, and stuffed animals, with Joe and Myra.
5995. The responsibilities of life swirl around us. Each day they feel both heavier and lighter. The yoke is easy, and the burden is light. I'm beginning to see how this is true.
5996. Each day we work to bow our hearts to our Savior, and each day our love for Him grows.