"Huh," Jane says.
"What?" I say. A live feed of the Democratic Convention splayed in front of us, I look up at Jane. She's staring at one of the keynote speakers.
"The more promises you make," she says eyes still fixed on the speaker, "the more you're gonna have to break." She says it like a poem.
"Yup," I say.
"The more you make 'em, the more you break 'em," she says.
"Come on, keep working on the library," I say. She cradles a novel in one elbow seesaws toward the L's and slips it in after Lewis. We organize books while we take in the political climate -- another side in their own. Sans the commentary, clarity materializes unbeckoned.
The library gradually takes shape.
"I thought I didn't like school until it was taken away for a season," Jane says. I scan a list of sixth grade literature. "Mom," she says, "I'm just itching to start school more than ever."
"Things that you work hard on you end up loving," I say.
"Yeah," she says, "I'm just like: Oh, I wanna LEARN right NOW."
"Here, this is an extra, go put it in the picture classics," I say. She scoops it up like a child, finds it's slot in the bookshelf by the window.
The afternoon slides by slowly like a shared pastry slowly unrolled and eaten in small bites.
Breakfast the next day, we're on to school again.
"So," I say, "I was thinking you should be thinking about what you want your schedule to be this year."
"Oh, yeah," she says. "I was thinking we should start with the hardest thing in the morning. So," she tilts her head, "like writing."
"Huh, good idea," I say.
"And then like piano and Spanish and math facts," she counts subjects off on her fingers, "and then right before lunch to Saxon Math 'cause I'll be like: Oh good, lunch is next. And it'll be like, like," she pauses.
"Motivating," I say.
"Yeah, and I think we should so reading last, like not after lunch, but LAST," she says. I picture fifth grade, her three hours into silent reading sprawled on the couch and the rest of the afternoon work forgotten.
"That's a good idea," I say. "I want to sit down with you and actually write it all out."
"O-kay," she chimes. I smile. All those unbending hours, all those times of saying again and again, Of course it's not fun. Being GOOD at things is fun. YES, you have to do it anyway -- and gradually in imperceptible increments, here we are. Affections are born just like anything else by pain and toil.
5997. I turn 38. Another year wheels itself around and I find myself more observant, less worried, and increasingly determined.
5998. "The kids could make that themselves," I say of Craig's dinner ideas. "I know," he says, "but they just bless me so much. I want to make it for them."
5999. I get heat exhaustion. Craig and the kids scoop up all the daily details and let me rest.
6000. A friend invites me to coffee, and we exchange writing, editing, politics, philosophy, and scripture observations, tasty tidbits. Two hours slide by way too fast, but neither of our cars get towed.
6001. Mom and I run errands and chat on my birthday. We map all that is precious in the world, noting every detail, every conundrum, every tremor of faith, the hidden life of humility, and joy and satisfaction sprouting from unexpected springs. It's a feast of kings. Plus, we get chocolate. Then the checker at Trader Joe's gives me a bouquet for my birthday.
6002. Craig continues to surprise me with devotion, humor, and kindness. Happy and undeserving, I pray I can grow to be more like that.