This afternoon I came home and hugged Ellie and kissed the backs of the two big kids’ heads, making sure to not get in the way of Super Wings. I sliced up apples and poured gold fish crackers into bowls and tried asking the kids about their days, but quickly recognized the futility of conversation while flying and singing airplanes danced on the screen in front of them. I went through their backpacks to find cut-and-paste days-of-the-week caterpillars and letter worksheets and the new calendar of activities for April. After TV time Sophie jumped on Cohen and Cohen pummeled Sophie and Elllie and I sat back and watched, munching on our goldfish.
After a bit I told Cohen he should do all of the worksheets he missed before break. He eyed the large stack and he said “No way, never.” He finally agreed after I told him no more TV until he finished, but he managed to weasel his way out of an easter bunny word search because the “word searches are just for fun.” While he worked, Sophie gathered up random piles of art supplies from the kitchen and carted them to another room of the house (an hourly activity.) This hour’s pile-of-junk-journey included at least 20 sheets of construction paper, a protractor, a magnifying glass, and –of course– Ellie following her saying “Me too.”
Jacob came home bearing kisses and hugs. Cohen announced, “Mama, you totally forgot library today,” (which I did)– and Jacob healed my guilt-ridden conscience and said quickly, “It’s all of our responsibilities to remember library, buddy.” He searched for the dinosaur book in every room of the house before finally finding it under the living room coffee table. Cohen finished his math worksheets and “ee” sounds worksheets and he pummeled Sophie a little bit more until I told them to set out five forks and five napkins for dinner.
I wrestled a piece of chocolate out of Ellie’s mouth as I continued to brown the meat for tacos. Jacob sliced lettuce and jalepenos and Cohen demanded to get his own bowl of sour cream so he could “decorate” his taco at the table. Ellie carted a six-pack of apple sauce round and round the kitchen, saying “Open, me too. Open, me too.” We finally made it to the table and we held hands in a circle (Sophie using her fork as an extension to reach Ellie’s little fingers.) I said “God, thank you for this food. Thank you for our jobs, for our schools, for each other.” Jacob and I talked a little bit about work, and when we asked Sophie about school, her synopsis was, “I found a dime, then I lost it.”
Chairs scraped back from the table, dishes clattered into the sink, little girls were carted upstairs for baths. As I wiped apple sauce and sour cream from counters and swept lettuce and shredded cheese from the floor, Cohen sat on a stool, staring at his memory verse from promiseland this week. “For– God–so–loved–the–world–,” he read slowly, carefully, over and over, “For–God–so—loved–the–world, that he gave his His only son.” His little six year old voice, innocently and thoughtfully shaping and sounding and refashioning the age old words into a new and beautiful promise.
He changed into his spiderman pj’s and scratched his belly and asked if he could take some claritin because he was itchy. I said “Go ask daddy for his opinion” and he asked me “What’s an opinion?” Then he came back down and he took his claritin and he asked if farts were just “smelly bubbles.” Jacob found the full text Roald Dahl’s “The BFG” on the Ipad and we all settled under blankets and used each other as pillows and munched on frozen mangos and the old butter pecan ice cream that has been in the freezer forever (spitting out all the pecans of course.)
Sophie got first dibs for a ride on my back up the stairs. We blew kisses to Ellie as Jacob took her to her crib, and Cohen sat on my lap while I sang “busy day” to Soph, still small enough to wrap his arms around my neck but not quite small enough to get completely comfortable while doing so. We said goodnight to Sophie and I took him to his room and he said said “lay by me for an hour,” and I said no, and then he said, “okay, then 59 minutes.” I sang him amazing grace and prince of peace. I kissed his cheek and said I love you.
I came downstairs for a few moments. I saw my bible and I found the chapter in John and without thinking much I went back upstairs. I flipped on Cohen’s light and he rolled over, squinted, and said “huh?” “I just wanted to read you the rest of the chapter,” I told him. And so I did. “For God so loved the world,” I read over him “that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
And the words were beacons– revealing and clarifying the love that was all around me– Love in the form of contruction paper and apple sauce, of blankets and bottles, of silliness, and stories, and songs.
Words are always beacons, illuminating what has been around us all along.