Heaven holds a sense of wonder….











{August 28, 2010}   Echoes of a time past

I wish I was more handy with a sketchpad and watercolors than I am. I’d love to paint this afternoon…

We’re in a creek bed, almost completely dry except for a few foot-deep pockets. Rocks and stones piled up everywhere keep the mud from sticking to our shoes. Roots jut out of the walls as the tree branches, bedecked in their emerald glory, filter the light of the sun on its way down to us; mottled splashes of light intermingle with the stones and puddles.

Just in front of me, a huge rock plunks into the foot-deep puddle, splashing me and my two children. On the ledge above us to my left, our rottweiler rests, panting and grinning, watching in curiosity. Down below, in a patch of mud immediately next to me, an earthworm lies, exhausted after the children’s explorations and exhortations. “Can we take him home? Please, he likes me!” On my right, my daughter stirs the pool with a two-foot-long stick, telling me she’s making chicken noodle soup. She tosses in the “ingredients” – small rocks and pebbles – casually, like she’s done this a hundred times before. She chatters to herself and anyone who will listen about the task at hand. Further to the right, a little ways down and around, my son sits on a rock, perched lightly, cooly tossing large rocks in and admiring their loud plunks and fountain-like splashes.

He looks so big today. He’s not the baby I remember holding in my arms a short while ago. His deep rusty hair glows in the sunlight, almost seems to draw the light towards him. He’s been talking about a mohawk when fall comes, but for the time being, he’s got a beautiful shag any little skater kid would be proud of. He’s wearing long grey bell-bottoms that wrap themselves around his flip-flopped feet. Maybe they’re just a little too long, but he wears them well. An oversized pink t-shirt proclaiming in big block letters, “Live and Let Live,” cooly drapes itself over his shoulders, complimenting his hair nicely. His new Harry Potter backpack hangs out behind him; forgotten, but not neglected. He looks so mature, so casual and at ease with life.

At ease with life…. this life I gave him? The life that his father and I made for him, made so many mistakes with? How can he be so secure, so calm and confident, and so young? He’s five, but he carries himself like he’s ten….

And his little sister, so much like him and so different. She, too, carries the same confidence and sense of being a little wise beyond her years. Not so sure she has the same sense of security, ease with the world; she’s very demanding of comfort and reassurance. She’s also three, I feel better knowing that she still feels like she needs me. But today, she’s confident and relaxed. She’s making chicken noodle soup, and nothing else matters – not even the mud making its way onto her overalls, normally a cause for alarm. Even now that we’re home an hour later, she hasn’t insisted on changing her clothes. When asked if she wanted a bath, she replied she would take one tonight, before bed. This is the girl who has to change her clothes if she gets a drop of ketchup or a little water on them. Now, she’s content to pretend she’s a cat and lie on the couch, purring.

When I suggested to their father that we meet at this particular park to do the hand-off, I had no idea what was to come. I expected that we would be at the playground, the kids would frolic and caper while Dad and I discussed their week and talked about the parenting plan. Failing that, I expected the kiddos to ask to watch the kids at the skate park, something that fascinates both of them (though I’m not sure which of them will be the first to actually get on a skateboard). When I arrived, there they all were, sitting in the bleachers, watching the skaters go by. One guy fell off his board, and my son loudly groaned, “Oh, MAN! Wipeout!” A few minutes later, another guy wiped out, and my daughter empathized vehemently: “OUCH! Mom, did you see that?”

It didn’t take long before the kids became restless; an adventure to the creek behind us was in order. Little girl led the way with her dad, I followed with the dog, and Big Red followed us with the stroller. Next thing I knew, their dad had jumped down into the creek bed (no small feat, I found out later), and was helping the kids in. I stayed behind with the dog (who, fearless as he is otherwise, is afraid of heights), while they wandered a few feet down to explore. When they came back, their dad climbed out while they commenced to throwing rocks; we finally had a chance to talk about the week’s events.

My son fell into the river standing on a rock at the edge and nearly lost his flip-flop. Obviously he’s fine, and so are his flip-flops. Dad was right there next to him to catch him. I’m relieved. My daughter… wandered away from the house and crossed a somewhat busy intersection, and was about to cross a definitely busy intersection before her dad caught up to her. She was going to Dolphin Island. Hey, she told her dad where she was going, and he told her ok… he just didn’t realize she wasn’t playing pretend like she does all the time these days.

Where is Dolphin Island anyway? We live in Kansas….

The whole idea of meeting in a park to hand off the kids to one another started because we needed to touch base with one another about the week’s developments in regard to the children. Dropping off and taking off was not working. There was no communication. So we agreed to meet in neutral territory.

This is the second week we’ve done this. I’m noticing additional benefits. Dad wasn’t there long, but it was long enough. The kids know it’s safe for them to have fun with Dad when Mom’s around; they see us talking when they are playing, and they visibly relax. It makes the transition from Dad’s house to Mom’s house much easier. The discipline issues I used to have when they came home from there are not nearly as prevalent. So far.

Walking home from the creek, my son took responsibility for his sister. Since I had the dog, Big Red buckled her up in her stroller and pushed her the whole way home. On the home stretch, he grabbed my hand and put it on the stroller handle with his, and said, “Hold hands with me, Mom.”

For all I know, that may be the last time he ever does that. He’s 5 going on 10, after all.

I was smart. I kept my mouth shut and did as I was told.

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