The Moments In Between

Tonight I asked Keana what I should write about, and she replied (as if she was waiting for just that question), “Why don’t you just write about taking us to ballet and picking up dinner?” I thought for a moment and replied, “Huh. That’s a good idea. I think I will.” She was onto something.

Sarah was sick today so I did a little more with the kids than I usually do. I picked Maia up at 1 p.m. from school with Aliya in tow. Aliya was ready to get out, and as I got her dressed to go, I gave her the option of a purple dress with black pants, or a black t-shirt so she could be “all black.” She was pretty excited at the “all black” option and even sought out her black boots to complete the ensemble.

We arrived at school and parked down the street, and as we started down the sidewalk, she said in a tired tone, “I hate walking here.” “Really?” I said, “Why’s that?” “Ugh, I just hate walking this way.” My first reaction was to discount her seemingly strong feelings, but I just kept my mouth shut and said, “Huh.”

As we crossed the street she saw a massive cockroach scurrying through a pothole and along the road. I would have missed it. Then we talked about how we should have smashed it. After we picked up Maia, the three of us were discussing what might have happened to the cockroach, and Aliya suggested that maybe a car smashed it. “Maybe,” I said, thinking it was highly improbable given the cockroach’s previous trajectory. But I kept my mouth shut and low and behold, in the crosswalk, what did I see? “Look! A car did smash it!” I exclaimed, pointing it out to the two of them. We went home satisfied.

I had a couple meetings then went and picked up Keana from school. We had to rush home, get a quick snack and get her and Maia ready for ballet. Tights. Man. Why? That is all on that subject.

I really enjoy watching them in ballet when I can, but tonight I helped Keana with her homework, deciphering the metric system and “guestimations.” Then she very proudly presented me with my “homework,” a Parent Reflection form on their unit of inquiry. I happily filled it out as Maia danced and Keana played quietly next to me on the bench, having finished her assignments.

Keana’s class is right after Maia’s, so Maia came out, they gave each other a big hug, and we sent Keana in. Maia and I were off to pick up some take-out from a nearby Vietnamese place. The restaurant is in a shopping center and there happens to be two fountains nearby: one in front of the restaurant and one about 50 yards away that is more elaborate with better lighting. I could tell Maia wanted to watch them for a while, but we went inside to get our food. When we were inside, while I paid the bill and waited for them to wrap things up, Maia laid out on the cushy waiting bench, testing out different angles and positions. No one was in there so I just watched and smiled while I waited for them to finish bagging.

As we left, I could tell Maia still wanted to see the fountains but I also knew she wouldn’t ask if we could stay. So I paused and helped her find a good viewing angle for the “fancier” fountain across the way, and then we hung out by the other fountain for a minute, watching the hundreds of droplets cascade down to their final splash in the larger, bottom basin. I watched her enjoy the flow of water and consider the number of coins at the bottom. “I’m cold,” she said, and we headed home.

When we got home, Aliya was busy coloring her fingers with markers, a nice blue smudge on her nose. As I got Maia’s tights off, suddenly we hear, “Hey, look! A blue booger! Look Papa!” Sure enough, Aliya had a relatively large, shiny, blue booger on her finger. She was delighted. “I’ve never seen a blue booger before, that’s exciting!” I said.

“Look Maia, Look Maia!” she said, wanting to impress her older sister, but Maia just shrugged her off. Guess blue boogers don’t impress her. Aliya moved on.

I decided to play my horn a bit, instead of eating, so Keana would have some company when she got home from ballet. I went to pick up Keana and she was pretty excited to still be seeing other kids at her dance school that were also in the Nutcracker in December. When we got home she was famished and stuffed large bites of catfish into her mouth. I reminded her that she would have to eat some rice to get full, and she replied (indignantly), “I am! You didn’t even see me; you’re not paying attention!”

“You’re right, I’m not,” I said, and smiled to myself.

Then Maia was reluctant to brush her teeth. “I just want to play,” she said. I reminded her how tired she was this morning waking up for school, to which she replied, “I hate school.” “You’re frustrated with having to go school,” I said. We sat for a minute in silence and I offered to give her a piggyback ride to the bathroom. “I want a horse ride,” she said. “Sure.”

As she bobbled along on my back, she said it was just like riding a horse, but shorter. Then she told me if my knees hurt I didn’t have to go all the way. Keana saw us and wanted a horse ride too and I promised “something.” I did have to stand up because my knees started to hurt, but Maia was happy again, just like that.

Keana got a bouncing piggyback ride to and from her story and eventually they fell asleep.

Damn. This post is more than a thousand words but it’s not just an account of “our average Monday.” I mean, it sort of is that, but in between all the “standard” stuff and all the big “life” events, there are those moments you wish you could remember and hold onto forever. Predictions about the future of a solitary cockroach, blue boogers, transfixed wonder at a fountain of water, and a reminder to write about life at the end of a busy day.