As I sit here in the gloom, thunder cracking in the distance, I am thankful.
Yesterday, Paul and I played Make Pretend We Are A Family With Two Kids. With all the older kids at play practice, and working as nurses, and in the Army, we ended up with only the princesses. First, we did practical things, like load the truck up with garbage to take to the dump. While he was there with the girls, I washed dishes and swept floors and made bacon and eggs, and cut up veggies. After breakfast, Paul suggested a trip to the beach. Oh simplicity! Seriously, compared to Back In The Day, when I had nursing babies and toddlers and just plain lots of kids, going to the beach was a huge endeavor. A playpen, at least one pram, (you know, one for the baby, one for the toddler...the double ones never pushed as well on the sand) The food and bottles and swim diapers and and and. Anyway. Yesterday, we were ready in a few minutes flat. The princesses can put on their suits, pack an outfit and a towel in their own little backpacks, while I pack a quick snack in one little cooler...off we went.
We walked out on the pier and watched the boats go by, we sat in the sand and played in the water. We sat in the shade of a big maple tree while the girls ran and played on the playground, we sat there and just looked at each other. We watched other parents chase toddlers, and yell at their kids. Not all of them, of course. There was one young dad there who looked, no offense, like an unlikely candidate for Father Of The Year, with his tatoos and those big earrings that make the giant holes in the ear lobes. But he was amazing with those kids, which just goes to show it ain't what's on the outside that counts.
Anyway. Then we went to the cemetery to visit Robert's grave. I wish I had gotten a picture of Camille. She sat right down and planted herself right on that grave. She traced his name with her fingers, and sat there talking to herself, or to him, I don't know. Taking a picture of her there almost seemed too intrusive.
Both girls really like walking along and reading the names on the tombstones and asking a million questions, and speculating between them how the people died.
Next stop for a coffee for Paul and I to share. Then to the ice cream place. Then to visit Grandma for a bit. Then, home....
Home. It was after seven, and all my play practice kids were home, plus four friends. And, they were hungry. Oh dear. I was a bit tired, not thinking I was going home to make a huge dinner for like...I don't know, a lot of people. I started rummaging through the fridge, through the cupboards, racking my brain....I decided on taco salad, because we have peppers and tomatoes in the garden, and there was lots of burger in the freezer. Problem: no salsa. Solution: Margaret made some yummy stuff from the garden tomatoes and olive oil, cilantro, and chopped onions. We also had very little sour cream, and no olives, but hey, it was good anyway. I never ate any last night, because I decided to bake cookies too, a triple batch of chocolate chip. By the time I was finished, it was 9:30, much too late for dinner. So I broke off a few pieces of cookie to add to the three hunks of cookie dough I had eaten, and called it a night for eating. I had made a plate, but put it in the fridge, and ate it today. It WAS good, Margaret's salsa was superb.
This morning, the kids all went to play practice again, leaving Paul and I with our little family of just Miss Char and Miss Cam. We had to hurry out the door to get Paul to the airport, he is in Louisiana for the week. We dropped him off, me sniffing a bit, dang I hate saying goodbye to him. We went to the dollar store because I broke my sunglasses yesterday. Yeah, that's where I get them. In my old age, I cannot drive without them, but it's useless to buy good ones, the way I lose them and sit on them and snap the arms off accidentally. Anyway. We bought lots of Ghiardelli chocolates and Lindt truffles and some peanut butter filled pretzels for Abigail, and some Buffalo sourdough pretzel bites and new leashes for the girls' pet stuffed tigers.
Grocery store....since I only had the two girls, I was giving them plenty of attention, and let me tell you, they just thrived. They gushed about how much fun they were having, and Camille said none too quietly, "I bet Satan is just so mad that we are being so good!" Oh dear. Most people don't walk around talking about Satan:) But I bet he was mad, we were so happy and thankful....
We got home and had to haul all the groceries in by ourselves.
Samuel called me again. He is such a funny kid. He is bound and determined to be a good boy, and you know being out in this world, there are many temptations. It is comforting to me that he chooses to answer to God, and wants to please Him. Anyway, he told me that quite a few sergeants/officers have told him he will probably be chosen by Echo Company. It is the company which gets first choice of the new soldiers there, because they guard the president and do White House detail. I told him I am so proud of him, and reminded him to stand up straight and tall, which is something I tell all of my kids:)
As life marches on, I find myself getting more sentimental and just plain feeling...old. After we dropped Paul off at the airport, I asked the little girls if they wanted to see the house Mama grew up in. I showed them the newer houses that weren't there when I was little, those were the woods and fields I played in. I showed them the creek that Casey and I spent so much time playing in and next to. When we drove down that little street I grew up on, the memories of the bus stop, of Kelly who loved playing with frogs, of vacation bible school in the yard of the brown house, roller skating and playing huge games of neighborhood jump rope and kickball. There were no kids riding around the blocks on their bikes today, where were they? My brothers used to alter their bikes so they had huge forks and sissy bars. We used to play hide-and-seek until it got dark, in the whole neighborhood! We didn't call friends to see if they could play, we simply went outside and found our friends. No cell phones, no texting.
Anyway, I feel like a walking cliche', the way the years roll back in my mind, and all those big houses look so little now, how simple life was, and how free it seems we were as kids. We drove over to my old elementary school and the field behind it shrunk, the trees cut down, one can see the businesses and traffic from the playground. It seemed to be a peaceful place when I was little, now it is like a splotch of green plunked down in the middle of suburbia.
There are more lanes of traffic on Main Street, the little stores gobbled up by convenience stores, the post office closed, the old Victorian house library replaced by a big new ugly one. The ice cream place is still there, with it's giant fake ice cream cone on the roof, but it is looking sad, and it's days are probably numbered.
Time just goes by, and when I think about all the people on my street, I realize most of them are dead and gone, the old neighbors.
I don't know what I expected, driving through the old neighborhood. Pintos and stationwagons and kids with transistor radios hanging from their banana seat bikes wearing cut off jean shorts and polyester shirts and mood rings?
But I am thankful for life, thankful for these last two little children of mine, who along with Jonathan, are the only ones still really children. They light up my life.