Prepping a lesson on Norse Mythology—(do I google Thor? I briefly panicked.) I stumbled across this: The Norse believed in an enchanted world. That is, they didn’t “feel the need to seek salvation from the world, but instead delighted in, and marveled at, the way things are.”
“How do you make a good pork chop?” I texted my mom. I should really know these things by now- mid thirties, five kids, I’m a lady who should know how to cook a decent pork chop. But I didn’t, and so I asked my mom. I’m thankful I could ask my mom. My co-workers who have lost their mothers have told me they wish they could text their moms all the time, with silly questions like how to make pork chops, and serious questions like what should they tell their daughters about dating and beauty and friendship. But mine was here, and she answered within minutes, and I was grateful. Coat it with an egg, breadcrumbs, and fry it up in olive oil, she texted back.
I made the porkchops while Everett and Mae scooped out ranch dressing with their bare hands from the center of a veggie tray. They sat on the island in their diapers, and Ellie shaded in her “sets of ten” on her homework. She asked me: “Do you think we’ll do boxes of twenty next?” And I said, “Maybe you will even do addition.” And she said “oooooooo” like she had just seen a cool magic trick (but only after asking what addition was first.)
Cohen and Jacob missed dinner because the poor kid was getting poked and prodded and made all kinds of itchy by his yearly allergy test. “He was so mature,” Jacob couldn’t stop gushing when they arrived home. “So tough. I— I just couldn’t believe it.” And his eyes got all watery at the thought of Cohen’s “grown-ness”. In fairness, Jacob’s eyes can get watery at almost anything. Just yesterday he recounted a commercial in which packages were delivered “from the viewpoint of the package.” He tried to explain more, except he couldn’t, because there was “just something about those people opening their doors for those packages.” (When we were first dating in college, we watched the Rock Island Labor Day parade, and an old man with kind eyes placed candy in each of our palms. No one else could see it, but we did. We cried then too. Enchantment.)
After dinner– 15 minutes late– we finally arrived at Ellie’s “investiture” ceremony for her Daisy troop. The five-year-old girls stood in a line, uncharacteristically quiet because they noticed the four short rows of plastic folding chairs for the “audience” turned toward them. The small church multi-purpose room had become a stage of sorts, and their blue vests stood out against the flourescent-lit white walls; a space that had nothing personal about it became special, important. The girls stared at the onlooking smiling parents and committed to uphold the girl scout law, and they got pumpkin and ghost sugar cookies to commemorate the occasion. Do you know that kids still believe that it is special to pledge to be their best selves? (Special enough for cookies!)
When we returned home, I showed Jacob our new “Daisy” and the babies quickly followed him downstairs, still naked from their baths. I made up a weird song “We got a Daisy, [pause] We got a Brownie [pause] , We got two-ooo naaaaa-ked Babies.” There was a rhythm, and the kids found it and danced. After football, Cohen got dropped off by a coach who had bought the kid a quesadilla for dinner because there are good people who lead Daisy troops and coach football teams and even knit together in church basements on rainy September nights like this one. (The wizened knitters were in the room next to the hopeful girl scouts, old and young, separated by an ordinary beige partition.)
Last weekend Jacob and I watched “Won’t you Be My Neighbor?”, a documentary about Fred Rogers. (Good Lord, if we cry at old men in parades and commercials about packages you might correctly predict we created a brief monsoon watching this one.) In a commencement speech, Mr. Rogers told the recent graduates that there was no need for them to do anything sensational, that they were loved as they are. After a hell of an afternoon- in which I showed up late, added too much season- salt to the porkchops (Damn!) and probably barked commands more than I listened– grace let me see there was something more to the story, something real. Enchantment in it all, not beyond it.