It sometimes occurs to me that many days I get to do the sort of things other people consider day-off activities. Probably the first amazing thing the kids did for me today was, upon leaving Sophie’s swim practice, they ran over to the landscaping and asked me to come look at a bush with them, some unremarkable shrub with tiny clusters of purple lilac-smelling blossoms. “It’s the bee bush,” my daughter tells me. And indeed the thing is prolific with these insects – many and varied, we count at least four different types of bees – and most magical of all, we got close enough we could see the tiny, perfect little parcels of pollen on their legs. This is the sort of miracle I technically already knew about (thanks to nature shows or public school), but had never really discovered for myself. Each little bee busy collecting smaller-than-grain size bits of pollen, hoarding a little share. The three of us blissed out just a few minutes outside the YMCA and I thought, without these children I would not have even noticed.
This afternoon the kids suggested we go “exploring”. First we had to stop home to grab the necessary requirements. Each child found a backpack and outfitted it appropriately. Sophie donned Spongebob Squarepants gardening gloves (and they did come in handy in navigating through blackberry bushes) and brought bottled water, a sketch pad / observational notebook, a science field book of some sort, and a bug net. Nels brought a “rock collector”, extra shoes, “a napkin in case something smelled bad”, and magnifying glass.
I chose to take them to the beachy / semi-wooded / train track spur of land we called “The Flats” when growing up here in Hoquiam. It was a lovely little afternoon jaunt, one where my kids were so deeply happy they had no behavioral problems and as we clambered through grass and up hummocks they regularly and fluidly delivered several factoids about how much and why they loved me. They also foraged through bushes and stopped to view flowers and insects and go “fishing” in a brackish little pond and they climbed around driftwood fortresses and scaled trees with an almost alarming alacrity and skill.
Things change so quickly as a parent; only an hour or so after we’re home and I’m busy in the kitchen, finding myself increasingly anxious, tired, overworked, and pissed at the kids’ occasional fights or accidents. Ralph got home at five and I had all four burners of the stove going and the kids spied a fraction of a brownie I was snacking on and (charmingly, but persistently) commandeered it. I was feeling overworked and claustrophobic and though the kids did nothing wrong in clamoring for my one thing I’d tried to keep to myself – well, I just gave in and cried, a little. Everyone deserves a collapse now and then.
Tonight: company, cooking a bit, packing up for tomorrow’s 30 mile family bike ride.