but when he sleeps I can see
he’s still a baby
They’re all smiling.
Julia, Lucy, Phoebe, and Jackson. Together, they’re The Kids, #1 – 4. Julia and Lucy are the Big Kids. Phoebe and Jackson are the Little Kids. Julia and Jack are Big and Little. Lucy and Phoebe are Double Stuff Middle. Julia and Phoebe are the Odds. Lucy and Jack are the evens. They’re a group, a crowd, a gaggle. And when they’re all happy at the same time, I’m so very grateful.
I didn’t immediately notice that our toilet had started leaking. There was a lot of water on the floor after bath time, but when isn’t there? (The answer is NEVER.) Sure, it seemed excessive, but certainly not the worst my kids have done. (They once made their own water slide in there.) I just mopped up the mess with all the towels they had dropped in the hallway to the tune of my Why Can’t You Guys Keep the Water in the Tub for Goodness Sake Tirade and proceeded with the bedtime ritual. Five books and one Oprah and Deepak Meditation later, it was raining in the kitchen.
We shut off the cold water supply for the upstairs bathroom and declared it closed. All business would have to be done in the downstairs bathroom. That very night I became keenly aware of just how far away that bathroom is from my bed when I really, really have to pee or one of the kids has diarrhea. Also, I learned how often there is someone in the bathroom at our house. Still, I was so very thankful for the downstairs bathroom.
Since the cold water was off, it was also necessary to bathe downstairs, that is unless you were willing to fill the tub with hot water, then wait an hour or two for it to cool down to a safe temperature, which was Dave’s preference. He said the downstairs bathroom was too public to be naked in, but I think that he simply enjoyed the leisure time the hot bath method afforded him. He had to fill the tub, and you can’t just walk away from running water or a tub full of scalding water for that matter, what with kids and pets running around and all. So, he loitered upstairs. Meanwhile, the downstairs bathroom situation resembled a rock concert port-o-pot, given the line you had to wait in and the kids’ inability to flush.
This went on for a few weeks while we scrounged up the money for a replacement, but now it’s over. The plumber installed our new, beautiful toilet yesterday. (That is, by the way, such an awkward situation for me. Ideally, people come to install or service things when Dave is home and he can deal with it, but in reality, I’m usually the one here to handle it and I don’t know what to do. Do I hang around? Do I help? Should we chat? Am I rude if I just go about my day? Is it rude to watch? Does that imply that I don’t trust him? Should I offer refreshments? Mostly, I corral the kids and we hide like fugitives because sssshhhhh, the plumber is here.)
Yes, I photographed the toilet. I also texted it to at least three people. It was the first thing I shared with Julia and Lucy when I picked them up from school. Not only because it gave us our lives back, but because it added something new. You see, this toilet doesn’t have a handle to flush. No. It has buttons. Buttons! There is one for pee and one for poop. I can’t take credit for it. The fastest and most affordable way to get the new toilet was to buy one directly from the plumber and have him install it. So, it wasn’t unlike the birth of a child. We had a general idea of what we’d be getting, but we didn’t know exactly what it’d be like until it got here.
Julia was immediately intrigued. She wanted to know how to differentiate the buttons. “Is there a diagram?”
“No, there’s a one and a two, but in Roman numerals, because it’s fancy.”
Lucy was concerned. “Do you press the button before you sit down? What if I press the wrong button? Has anyone used it yet? What happens exactly?”
We were all anxious to try it out. The kids asked for refills of their milk at snack time to expedite the process. They placed bets on who’d press the number two button first and each hoped they would be the one to earn that distinction. It was the hot topic of conversation at dinner. “Now, that’s a throne!” we told each other. And bless the next visitor to walk through our door, because you know we’re going to haul them up there to see it. “Look! Buttons!” we’ll say. “Have you ever seen a toilet like that?” And then we’ll give unnecessary instructions on how to use it.
This morning, Jack and I were the first ones up. We took a bath and he washed my hair. He helped me do dishes and make breakfast. He set the table. He shopped for me in his play kitchen while I recited a list for him. He used the broom and dust pan and swept the entryway.
He sings all the time. It’s one of my favorite sounds.
He loves to play telephone. Today, he was a Fixer Guy. I’d call him up and ask him to fix something, then he’d show up with his tool box and get to work. He sawed the refrigerator, jammed his screwdriver in the bathroom door keyhole, and hammered all the bookshelves.
He is often a stompy dinosaur.
He made a friend at the park on Friday. It was effortless for him. He said hello. He told her he was Jack, then he hugged her. Tada! Friends! When it was time for her to go, she gave him a hug goodbye. It took him by surprise as first, but then he went in for a kiss as she was moving away. So, he blew her kisses instead.
There is nothing he wants more than to use the lawnmower.
He picked and planted flowers today. And when it was time for bed, he asked me to sing Hush Little Baby to him – the sweetest little baby in town.
I snapped this picture of Lucy right before she went into school.
And four minutes later, she turned seven while doing her morning work.
Flashback! About four years ago. The kid in the picture? IS SEVEN TODAY!
We were out on a dreary day and met a crawdad on the way to our walking trail. He was the biggest I’d ever seen!
He was right beside the road, closer to our house than to the trail, making his way to the stream after a big rain. He didn’t move for the longest time. Still, Bee and Jack were happy to sit still in their wagon and watch him from there.
Once we got off the road, the kids ditched their ride to enjoy the freedom of the trail. Jack ran ahead as fast as he could. Bee took her time, and stopped to investigate rocks and pick flowers.
We stopped at the brown bridge.
Bee was wearing pajamas bottoms. That would have driven me nuts before. Not now. Not anymore.
I love walking the trail. It’s easier to be present there.
It’s easier to feel grateful.
We were out on the trail on a sunny day while Lucy and Dave were at softball.
Jack and Julia walked ahead while Bee held my hand, letting go now and then to pick me a flower or to pick up a lucky stone and put it in her pocket.
After a while, Julia carried Jack.
We could hear them laughing and singing songs.
And so Bee and I caught up to them and joined in.
I felt grateful.
I was brushing my teeth on Easter morning when Phoebe the Early Riser quietly sidled up to me and said, “Mom. I need to tell you the story of the Easter Bunny.”
“Okay,” I garbled. I spit, replaced my toothbrush in its holder, and took a seat on the edge of the tub in preparation for the telling. “Let’s hear it.”
“I crept down the stairs,” she began softly and slowly, wiggling her fingers, then suddenly gaining speed and volume she erupted, “and there was toys and candy everywhere!” She gestured sharply with her hands to emphasize the words TOYS and CANDY and EVERYWHERE. “The Easter Bunny brought them,” she said with whaddaya gonna do hands.
It was a shorty story.
She told it again to her brother, sisters, and grandmother and then we all clamored downstairs to verify the facts. Toys? Check. Candy? Check. Everywhere? Sure. The kids tore right into it all while I made bacon baskets filled with scrambled eggs for breakfast. After that, we set them loose outside to search for Easter eggs.
This year, I found a set of three giant nesting Easter eggs and included them in the hunt. I filled the smallest of the giant eggs with candy. The bigger one held bottles of bubble solution. I stuffed the biggest one with cans of silly string. I hid it in plain sight on the dashboard of the van, which was sitting in the driveway, and I locked the doors to ensure that all the kids would be together in one spot when they were unlocked and the contents of the egg revealed. This was how Dave and I were able to strike first, strike hard, and ultimately, win the silly string battle.
After that, the giant egg parts became helmets.