Tuesday, May 15, 2018

When you have one chance

Photo courtesy of Clint Mason/Flickr
Last night I let Jovie play hooky from soccer. It's the week of the spring musical. She and Lily have rehearsal every day until 5 and then the show Thursday and Friday. I see signs they are fraying at the edges- particularly Jovie who all the sudden is worried that she will forget her lines or not know when to go on stage. 

Jovie- the consummate show woman, who can't get through dinner without breaking out into Bette Midler-esque vibrato- worried that she won't do well in her role as a monkey in "Suessical Jr." So many little anguishes in her brain. 

We got home from play practice and after eating a popsicle, she tells me she wants to go outside and blow bubbles. And I think about all the things that should probably get done. I decide I want to go outside and blow bubbles, too. 

So we do. We sit on the deck as the storm clouds gathered, breathing softly through pursed lips near the plastic, soap-covered wands. The air is still and quiet. The catbird that lives in the laurels in our backyard cackles about this and that and smoke wafts off our neighbor's grill. It is so peaceful and I am grateful to Jovie, who has such good instincts about living better. 

"They only have one chance," Jovie tells me as the bubbles we are blowing attempt to meander skyward before popping.

"The bubbles?" I ask.

"Yeah- they only have one chance to go up, up, up and then ... pop!"

We watch as bubble after bubble expands, lifts off and promptly explodes against the wood of the deck or rocks or clover. There isn't much of a breeze to carry them farther than the ground in front of us. 

I consider what Jovie said. My little Confucius, who at 6 already recognizes how fleeting and fragile time can be. Whether bubbles or catbirds or people, we all only get one chance to grow and lift off and exist in space before we're extinguished. That's why she was so reluctant to go from 5 to 6. So sad about going from being the baby to the middle child.

Jovie chases the bubbles through the yard, marveling at the ones that drift higher and higher. I marvel at her. 

My neighbor calls over the fence, "Here! We made a plate for you!" He hands me a paper plate loaded with grilled chicken, flatbread, tomato salad and two cupcakes for the girls. Ramadan starts soon; he and his family were out enjoying one of their last pre-sunset meals together before fasting started. The food smells amazing and I'm so touched by their generosity. We spend a few minutes chatting across our yards before I head inside to prepare the rest of our dinner. 

A tornado warning derails the evening a bit. Brad stands watch by the front door as the sky turns black and the wind shakes the magnolia out front.The two girls, the dog, a cat and I squeeze into the downstairs bathroom watching videos on my phone of animal odd couples (think, a dog whose best friend is a goat) to pass the time and ease their worries. After we tuck the girls in, I go downstairs and glance out the front door. The sky is the glowing in the softest shades of tangerine and amythest. I take a picture of it ... but of course it doesn't quite capture the light, the beauty and the precise feeling of peace it wraps my heart in. 

Thunder and lightening persist through the night. I spend an hour in Jovie's bed, holding her hand because she's scared. Lily wanders in our room and snuggles in next to Brad in the spot I vacated. We all wake up a bit groggy.

But we're all here.

"They only have one chance." I think about Jovie and the bubbles. And my heart cracks a little and I feel tears gathering in my eyes.

Even though my back hurts and I'm tired and the heartburn has returned and I'm worried we'll never find the right house or the right name here I am feeling gratitude. For the chance to expand in this life with the people and critters I live with and the people and critters I cross paths with. Always giving me opportunities to grow. And sometimes to laugh and sometimes to cry and sometimes to shake my head in confusion or frustration. 

On Saturday, we got home from Lily's soccer game and were greeted with a birthday party goody bag massacre. The dog had discovered the bag Jovie had stowed on the stairs, torn it apart and eaten all the lollipops inside. All that was left in various rooms were Dum Dums wrappers and sticks. 

While they were sad about the loss of candy, Jovie and Lily both were adamant that we not yell at Snacks for his marauding (we weren't planning to- not like he'd remember what he had done) and worried that his tummy would be upset. 

How can I get mad at the dog when the victim of his insatiable hunger was pleading for clemency? I can't even with these kids. Or this dog for that matter. 

And while we're offering forgiveness for obnoxious behavior I need to mention the kids at school. I rant about them a lot. And truthfully, they give me a lot to rant about. But they continue to surprise me and make me laugh and also roll my eyes. On any given day I can have a kid asking me if I've ever "smoked the devil's lettuce" and another wanting to touch my pregnant belly and another telling me my hair looks nice. One of my most challenging students inquires regularly about what type of vegetable my baby is this week (we're at butternut squash). A girl yesterday told Mr. Dewett and I that we were "slightly" cooler than her parents, which we decided to go ahead and be flattered about because sometimes that's all you get from an eighth grader.

Last week, one of the boys in seventh period was working on an elaborate sketch of a dragon when he should've been taking a unit test. "Nope," I told him, tapping the desk. "Put your sketchbook away. Focus on your test." 

Rather than being annoyed, he nodded. "You'll make a good mom," he told me.

Today, he handed me a list of suggested baby names. 

In fact, naming the baby has become kind of a sport.They're all very concerned that we're going to call her Edna (mostly, because I keep telling them that's what I'm going to call her). By the end of seventh period today, I was surrounded by five kids, all yelling names at me. It was all very loud and overwhelming, but also kind of sweet. They're very earnest about it. About so much.

And I'm earnest about so much these days. Sometimes I make myself throw up in my mouth a little. But whatever. I guess I'd rather feel all the feels I feel than be blind to them. You can thank Edna for that. Pregnancy grounds me even as my heart floats overhead like a bubble- full and iridescent and embracing my one chance.

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