I’ve turned into your great-grandmother, you know, the one who lives alone in a tidy house who can’t stand sudden noises or even the general loudness of children at play? (Oh, wait, maybe that’s just my grandmother–she’s 101 now.)
Anyway, I am her and when my 14-year old moves all the kitchen chairs so he can sweep (not of his own initiative, no, his dad directed him), he bangs and drags them and then I hear the unmistakable crunch-crunch-crunch of someone chewing and some little circuit in my brain immediately went haywire and I said, “WHAT ARE YOU EATING?” and he, the other 14-year old, looked startled and said, “Nothing?” and I raised my eyebrows and he said, “Popcorn. What?”
The television was on and my husband was clanging silverware in the sink (doing dishes, good husband, good boy!) and the loudness soaked into my brain like radioactivity.
All I want is peace and quiet. Although, I would settle for just quiet. Peace is overrated, anyway, but quietness? I can never get enough.
There was a day when all I wanted was a baby with pudgy cheeks and downy hair. There was a day that I lamented the childless rooms in my house, when I only wanted someone in the back yard who’d run through the sprinkler and pat together mud pies. There was a day when I took for granted tidiness, and never, ever removed an empty milk carton from the refrigerator.
Today, though, was full of life and kids. I slept in (as much as one can sleep in with a four year old in the house) and then when a phone call alerted me that my obligations for the day were canceled, I rounded up the kids and took them on an adventure, which was not much of an adventure but that’s only because the U-Pick strawberry farms had no U-Pick berries to pick. So, instead, we drove out to a working farm and bought some fresh strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, beans, and onions.
The kids didn’t care a whit about the produce, though. Four year old Grace asked the lady behind the counter, “Do you have any more animals?” (Two donkeys and two turkeys were fenced in by the parking lot. A dog wandered out of the produce stand.) The lady directed us back to see two goats, who eagerly ate feed we purchased for a quarter. Then, “Do you have any more animals?” and she said, “There’s a horse out at the end of the driveway.” So, we walked the other direction. A most hilarious donkey trotted over to us, wiggled his lips into a grin and then hee-hawed in cartoon fashion at us. We all burst into laughter. Then we admired the chickens before returning to buy produce.
After that, we headed back to civilization and Costco where my plan was to let each child pick out a snack food to take to the pool. This is preemptive shopping on my part. The kids always want to feed the vending machines at the pool and at 85 cents a snack, I cringe. So, now we have our own private stash of junk that I can dole out, saving money in the long run.
(We will have Jolly Ranchers until we die. The bag is huge.)
We sort of got lost on the way back and I have to confess that I have an admirable internal map, an innate sense of direction. And also, I realized once we hit a main drag again that our new van has a directional display, which is mighty cool.
At Costco, we had lunch, after spending way too much money. (That is so easy to do at Costco.) The kids each had pizza and I had a salad, but I had eaten only four bites of my salad and my 14-year old son was done eating his pizza. I couldn’t help but wonder if he had actually chewed or if he merely wadded it into balls and shoved it down his throat. I will never cease being amazed at how fast a teenage boy can eat.
We were home long enough to change into swimming suits. We were among the few, the brave, the crazy at the pool. I sat under a beach umbrella at a table and read a magazine as the children swam despite a light smattering of rain. That’s right. I sat by the pool in the rain. Welcome to summertime in the Pacific Northwest. They swam for two hours and Grace protested when I said it was time to go, but she realizes she has no power and so she reluctantly swathed herself in her giant pink towel and followed me to the van.
Then bedtime for Grace.
And then the kids finished their chores, my husband finished the dishes, and the kids went to their rooms.
The only sound now is the occasional cough of my 9-year old and the gurgle of the dishwasher. I hear the murmur of teenagers somewhere, but this is what passes for silence in my house.
Tomorrow, I’m taking the day off. I can’t wait to spend eight straight hours without once being called “mom” or having someone argue with me about whether I will or will not allow a particular computer game to be purchased or have someone debate with me the merits of having sleepovers on Tuesday nights because otherwise, “What is the point of summer if you can only have sleepovers on Fridays?”
I have small dreams and none of them has a soundtrack or dialog.