After school today I picked up the three youngest from my mom’s. Everett was asleep in his carseat, his chubby thighs busting out of his “future Moline maroon” onesie. Mae was all boogers and blue eyes. Ellie did not want to pick up the big kids; she was in need of a nap (understatement).
I heaved one carseat up into the truckster (hoist-swing-plop), and my mom heaved up the other (host-swing-plop.) The windows were down and the wind blew Ellie’s curls as we drove to the big kids’ school. We pulled into our corner spot and I hoisted more babies. Ellie ran ahead of me through the mud and the grass, close to the sidewalk but not on it. She had a minnie-mouse shirt and red leggings and rosy cheeks.
I talked with another mom about the weather and the upcoming fun fair and waved to Sophie as she requested to be dismissed. She bounded over to me, and I asked her how her day was. She said “good” and quickly found Ellie flying on her belly on the swings. Cohen burst through the doors after the second bell, flying at top speed, running at me and nearly through me. We found our neighbor and I led the small child-entourage back to the car. Ellie quickly entered full melt-down mode, upset that she wanted to sit in the middle seat, and refusing to let anyone buckle her except me. She screamed and she screamed and I sang “There’s NO business like SHOW business” (because why not?)
I spied the gray of the mini-van in our driveway and I could breathe a little bit more because the gray meant Jacob was home a few minutes early and he could cover the remaining hoisting of carseats. (Hoist- swing-plop-hoist-swing-plop.) Jacob chased Ellie in a circle around the house, limping and stiff-necked from pitching in Cohen’s baseball game last night. He hobbled around and around as she darted this way and that, always just out of his reach. “You should have seen it,” (he would recount to me later, shaking his head.) Ellie fell asleep on me, her arms clasped tightly around my neck.
As she slept, I watched Cohen jump rope in the family room; he would try again and again, only taking a quick break to eat a left-over piece of birthday cake. Everett pushed the door of the play pen open-and-shut, open-and-shut, and as he stood there marveling at the notion of a swinging gate, I marveled at the girth of his calves. Once Ellie was officially asleep, I tested Cohen’s jumprope outside because I’ve always enjoyed jumping.
We made Everett and Mae laugh while we waited for dinner.
We ate tacos while Ellie slept and I asked Cohen if he had found his lost library book. He said “yes” (pause) “in the garage” (longer pause) “on the toilet.” And we laughed, because where else but here would that be true– really? (It’s true!) Jacob gave the babies baths and I filled out fun fair forms, and math workbook forms, and reading club forms (I was DOMinating those forms) and felt productive until I saw the war-torn state of the kids bedrooms and I just threw in the towel.
Ellie woke up from her nap and ate cheese sandwiches and I read Horrible Harry, and Henry and Mudge, and Magic Tree House (a good line-up, I must say.) I sang “busy day” to Ellie (half an hour ago) and she is still singing right now. Everybody’s up.
We’re awake on this evening at the end of this afternoon, which could really be any afternoon– an afternoon that in a hundred ways will repeat itself, but will never be quite the same again.