My kids have been over at dad's house for 10 days. Shawn wanted to make up some days he'd missed. That freed me up to travel for work, drive Clarke to lacrosse clinics for three days, spend the weekend at the lacrosse tournament and work four 14-hour days running a seminar.
When my kids came back today after school, I wasn't quite ready for them. I like to have the house cleaned, fresh sheets on their beds, laundry folded and the kitchen stocked. I want to be there to greet them on that first day back. I know the house swap is stressful and I want them to think of my place as a refuge. But that didn't happen this time around because of those 14 hour days. In fact, right before they left, I bought a box of 200 Otter Pops from Costco. You know, those long skinny Popsicles in a plastic sleeve. It's a summer ritual for us.
You buy them warm and put them in the freezer. I vowed to clean out the freezer and turn them into ice. But 10 days later, they were still sitting on top of the stove, right where I'd left them, all liquid and limp.
But each of the kids let me know it was OK, in their own way.
It started at 3 p.m. when Maggie called me. I was about to walk into a meeting with our Board of Trustees at work (my first time). It was a big deal and I was slightly nervous. Everybody was home and she wanted me to tell me how close she was to joining the accelerated reader club at school. "Can I go to school early to go to the library?" And then she just kept talking and talking and talking. She is thiiis close to getting her back handspring in gymnastics. Her class is having a disco party tomorrow, do we have any disco clothing? Can we go get her library books from dad's house?
When I came home an hour later, she had finished her homework and was outside having a hula hoop contest with Vince, the neighbor boy. He was winning.
As soon as I walked through the door, Molly launched into a litany of outrageous stories from her eighth grade penitentiary (I mean class), where she has four more days left on her sentence (I mean school year.) Tomorrow, during her class trip to Busch Gardens, she must wear shorts with a 7-inch inseam. SEVEN INCHES!!! Can you believe this? She's only five feet tall. Her uniform shorts don't even have a seven-inch inseam. This rule was announced today, out of the blue. She is considering an act of civil disobedience. Also, there was a cheating scandal at school.
There are days when I beg this child to open up. Today she just unloaded. And man is she funny.
And Clarke, although he wasn't chatty like his sisters, was obedient and helpful. He got ready for lacrosse practice without procrastinating. He unloaded all the groceries for me while I gave Maggie a bath. He cleaned out everyone's lunch box. He snuggled with me while we watched Grey's Anatomy.
He even rearranged the freezer to make room for the Otter Pops.