Reading through The Education of a Flatlander has been so much fun, because it's a chronicle of raising my children, and it's as vivid as any photo album. As my boys move through their gangly and reticent teen years, and I'm left without any cuddly, pudgy babies, I've particularly loved reading these reminders of what our days used to look like. Much of it is about chickens and gardening and root cellars, but this one has just the sparkle I needed on this gray day.
Have a great holiday, everyone.
A Day in the Life
With all due respect to the Beatles, my day hardly ever starts with a comb across my head, but I do have to worry about getting my fifth grader Benjamin out to the bus in seconds flat.
The low winter light has Ben convinced I’m waking him in the middle of the night just for chuckles. As I pull clothes out of his dresser and kick a path through the debris on the floor of his bedroom, I stress that I have no ulterior motive, no reason to lie, especially when his reluctant awakenings are so often paired with a foul mood. He insists on seeking out a second opinion on the hour at the Official U.S. Time web site. We then go through our daily ritual. He stomps back upstairs after I inform him that the clothing he’s worn for two days straight will not do for a third, and I admit that yes, I am the meanest mother in the world for forcing him to wear clean clothes.
“Ben, nine minutes until you have to be outside.”
Nothing. Six-year-old Finnegan helpfully offers that he does not think Ben heard me and that maybe I should speak “more louder.”
More louder it is.
Two minutes later, peanut butter sandwich in hand, Ben wiggles into his snowsuit, balaclava, hat, gloves, and boots, while I toss lunch into his backpack. As the bus rolls down the hill, I push him out the mudroom door with a “Have a good day! I love you! RUN!”
The neighbor waves the bus down for Ben and he makes it with a second to spare.
Turning back toward the kitchen and my waiting coffee, Finnegan runs in from the playroom holding two empty vials of glitter.
“Mommy! Come see this! You won’t BELIEVE it!”
He proudly leads me out of the kitchen by the hand. The playroom looks like Studio 54 on a Sunday morning. The whole room sparkles under a finely distributed layer of gold, silver and green glitter. The television, with its crackling static charge, appears swathed in gold lamé. The dogs twinkle like disco balls as they roam about in the bright sunlight.
I open my mouth to complain, but Finnegan proclaims, “Our house is so sparkly and pretty!”
And I have to admit, it is sort of pretty.
Time for a field trip.
Finn and I drive up to Robie Farms in Piermont for milk, cream, cheese, eggs, cider and Betty Sue Robie’s fresh cinnamon donuts. On the way home, we stop by Veracka’s Auto Repair for a new windshield wiper, and hit the Lyme Country Store for tonight’s pizza supplies. A local farmer who is working to create Lyme’s first organic dairy is at the store, so I get to hang out and talk farming for a while. Last stop, Recordridge Farm for some venison loin and steaks, paid for with cash tucked under the scale next to the cooler.
The glitter has not been cleaned up by the housecleaning fairies by the time we return, so I spend about an hour sucking up as much of it as I can with the vacuum cleaner.
Upon returning home, Ben looks around and asked,
“Why is it so sparkly in here?”
When I told him what Finn had done that morning, he says he thinks we should keep the playroom that way, that he likes it.
“It’s pretty,” Ben proclaimed.
From my perspective, it’s all upside – the remaining glitter can be deemed deliberate decorating strategy rather than a byproduct of negligent housekeeping.
I still have not written a word all day, so I allow the kids to watch a DVD while I get some Mommy time. As usual, Ben slams the playroom doors before selecting a movie. He is militant about this playroom door issue. They must be closed if a movie is in progress because he likes total silence. If I open them, even for an instant, he hits pause with the remote. This is the same kid who can read a book while simultaneously listening to a completely different audio book.
The dogs head out to romp in the snow with the new puppy next door, and I warm up the coffee I forgot to drink an hour before. The paper sits on the counter, but I have to return it to the Clarks paper box according to our finely tuned subscription-sharing arrangement. So, sadly, I never did read the news today. Oh boy.