Monday, December 06, 2010


I stood in the glare of the kitchen light
with my eyes squinted, hands reaching for coffee when
Middle Child intercepted me.


I stood mute, in a pre-coffee haze, recognizing the tone of measured
trying-not-to-panic-we-have-to-leave-in-ten-minutes pace of her words.

"The dance team is doing our routine at lunch today and I looked
everywhere but I can't find my black shirt so I was wondering if I could
look in your room to see if you have one?"

I nod and move instead to the basement stairs, to begin the sift
through clean and dirty clothes in search of the black shirt.
I find it in the wash, transfer it to the dryer and lug clean clothes
back up to the main floor.

In the meantime I've found a mess left down there and send the twins
down to please pick it up before they leave for school.

The Teenager darts out the door to start his car and
the Husband declares that he is working in Grand Rapids today,
except that they have
"a foot of snow and are expecting a foot more".

I blink at this news and watch him help himself to an out-the-door cup
of coffee.

I say please drive carefully, but I'm thinking
please save me a cup of that coffee,

when Twin Boy emerges from the basement arguing with Twin Girl
only to stop short and stare at me with an awful look.

"My food."

I am still holding the basket of clean laundry, and glance at the clock,

"What did you forget?"

He is doing a report on Nicaragua today, and he completely forgot that
he was supposed to bring some sort of visual aid,
and had told all his friends that he was going to bring some traditional
Nicaraguan food for them to taste.

He looks like he is going to cry.

Twin Girl steps into the conversation and says,

"Oh yeah I have to bring something from Guatemala."

I am frozen, digesting the dilemma and the 3 minutes we have to work with
when the Teenager dashes through the kitchen again and says,

"Enchilada sauce."

I dart to the cupboard to find an old cool whip container
and tell Twin Boy to grab the can opener.

"Why do we have to pour it in there?" he says,
rummaging through the wrong drawer,

"So it looks homemade," I say,
reaching into the lazy susan for a can and
over his shoulder for the can opener
from in front of his sightless eyes.

Twin Girl sighs and says,

"I guess I'll just bring a soccer ball."

I nod, thankful, and send Twin Boy to the pantry
to find a sleeve of soda crackers.

"Pass around the sauce," I say,
emptying the can into the container,
"and give each person a Saltine,
and have them dip it in and taste it."

"What if it's too hot?" he says.

I look at the can and snap the lid in place.

"It's not hot."

I put everything into a plastic grocery bag
and hand it to him.
He stands there, grateful.

"You have bare feet," I say.

He looks down and then makes a dash for his bedroom.

"Brush your teeth!" I call up after him.
"Everyone's in the car!" I yell up again.
"What is taking so long?"

He darts down again, grabs the bag from me,
slips on his shoes in the garage,
mashing down the heels, and calls back,

"Thanks mom!"

I close the garage door and go out on the front porch
to plug in Christmas lights so they can see them on their
way down the drive.

When I come back in, somebody is pounding on the garage door.
The Teenager mumbles something when I open it
as he pushes past me to grab his backpack.

Finally the door slams again and I go to the front door to see them go.

They are grinning from the car at the lights and I wave back absently,
noting the beginnings of a snow shower,
and the fact that they will make it to school before it gets really bad,
and wondering if the kids will know or care that it is Old El Paso
enchilada sauce and that Twin Girl's visual aid is just an old soccer ball,
and whether I will ever see my black t shirt again,
and if there really is a foot of snow in Grand Rapids today.

I come back in and the silence feels temporary.
But I wait a minute and it stays.

I breathe,
and pour a cup of coffee.



Brian Miller said...

enjoy those moments of silence when they where is my coffee...

TechnoBabe said...

Busy morning and good for you to take a breath and be present in each moment, with your children and then some time for yourself. Hope your husband is not help up at work due to snow. Hugs to you and your family.

Annie said...

You are so great under pressure! Thanks for the reminder that expectations can be adjusted!

Heidi Lee said...

SO cute.
I could picture it ALL.

kool kenna said...

your family is so full of life. i absolutely love it!

Lisa Y. said...

I almost miss those days...just Parker at home now and the mornings are pretty quiet. I'm so proud of you for thinking so fast about the South American projects. :o)

Diane said...

Ha ha ha - I can just see the kids all passing around this container of Nicaruaguan salsa (or was it Guatamalan?) and tasting it in wonder....