"In an old house in Paris all covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines."
I climbed into the van the other day and spied a sheriff's badge in the cup holder. I pushed a dining room chair back into place and noticed a Dora sticker stuck to it. I walked through the house picking up this and that and heard Ainsley's sing-song voice saying, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you . . ."
My browser tells me the last six searches on this computer looked for the following key words: prop gun, prednisone, Conan, Tardis, and Light Saber.
Ainsley grabbed my face last night and whispered, "Mama, I love you so, so, so much."
(It'll be a sad, sad day when she says magazine instead of mazagine. Or stops saying "cool-down-did". And it's a darn good thing I made the most of these past few months and Ainsley's (brief!) desire to be rocked.
Tonight she said, "I don't do that anymore.")
"Mama," Ainsley tells me as she puts on her rain boots, "I'm going to have a 'venture outside."
As Tim was gearing up for Confirmation this week. We stayed home one night a few weeks back, just the two of us, to spend a little time reviewing catechism materials. Among other topics, we reviewed the corporal works of mercy:
- To feed the hungry.
- To give drink to the thirsty.
- To clothe the naked.
- To shelter the homeless.
- To visit the sick.
- To visit the imprisoned.
- To bury the dead.
Life is full of its trials -- the fallout of Ainsley trying on seventeen outfits every. single. day., the popcorn kernels that yesterday seemed to have landed everywhere but in the trash, the school projects that make me want to don sackcloth and ashes and beg -- beg! -- the forgiveness of every mother of every student I ever taught.
But life -- my life -- is teeming with its little joys, unique and always surprising and sometimes mystifying joys that flow from a life with children.
They bring humor.
They bring wonder.
They bring delight.
Kolbe and I wound our way to Walmart the other day. He regaled me with Diary of a Wimpy Kid anecdotes. Rowly and Greg were in Human Development, AKA Sex Ed. Rowly heard the word perspiration and passed out.
And Kolbe, well, that boy has perfect timing, perfect pitch, perfect recall. This, believe me, is a mixed blessing, a talent that has caused a sticky situation or two, a skill set that one day not so very far off will merge with adolescent hormones and may generate a few awkward phone calls and a few hard gulps.
Some things don't bear repeating, as in never, ever, at all, amen.
But in the Walmart parking lot, gracious, I had tears rolling down my face. That boy makes me laugh.
"Mama, I thought there were lots of days," Ainsley told me the other day, "but then there are no more."
This sounds more existential than it actually was. I think she was considering that the swim club we're joining opens in two weeks -- e.g. eternity when you're three.
John began running yet another fever over the weekend. Here's a confession I've probably confessed before: I'm happy when my kids get sick. Not really sick, of course. And not icky sick (think: stomach issues). But run a little fever, hunker down on the couch for a day? That I like.
(Yes, there's a syndrome --. Munchhausen's, I think? -- that involves parents actually making their kids sick. Don't worry. That's not me.)
When my kids are sick, to the best of my ability, I stop. I sit down with them. I mop foreheads, dispense medicine, read story after story.
My priorities shift instantly.
And as we move into the homestretch and gear up for summer, I will strive to shift my priorities not because of a fever, not out of necessity, but out of intention.
Because Ainsley's words really hit home: I thought there were lots of days, but then there are no more.