Last Friday night my sister, Torey, took all three of my kids for a sleep over. It was, in a word, fantastic. Paul took me out for dinner to this place he has been wanting to take me for a long time. We raced over there as soon as Paul came home, like a couple of octogenarians headed for the early bird special, but it was still packed when we arrived. We were given the choice of sittting in the bar or waiting a bit for a table. Paul deferred to me, I thought for a second, and decided to wait for a table.
We chit chatted a little, but mostly sat quietly and began the shift from frenetic thought and movement to stillness and peace. It really wasn’t that long until we were seated. We immediately ordered a shrimp appetizer with, reportedly, ambrosial qualities and a little something to drink.
We hadn’t decided what we wanted for dinner when the shrimp came and, Baby, they were good. There was some sort of coating, frying was involved and then there was a creamy, spicy element. I took a bite and told Paul, who had eaten them before and had brought me here, mainly to try them, “This is what all food wants to taste like.” He popped another one in his mouth and smiled.
Nothing really sounded inviting for dinner, but the appetizers were all appealing. We decided to order several more and call it good, although we were open to dessert, but then I don’t think we have ever been accused of being closed to dessert.
It was great. We ordered more of the shrimp as well as several others and enjoyed them leisurely, though it wasn’t long before I laid my chopsticks down and left the field to Paul. He soldiered on, alone, but eventually surrendered with dignity. There was no question of dessert.
And yet, by the time we had paid the bill, walked to our car and driven a ways, something sweet sounded, not just palatable, but necessary. Paul pulled into a candy store and we made some careful selections. We had already decided to have dinner be our one outing of the night; we had several Netflix awaiting us and a quiet evening at home appealed us both.
It was great. We watched several shows curled up on the floor, with Jack either spooning, or draping himself over one of us and then we went to bed early, (earlier than two of our children, as it turned out) and had a long and peaceful sleep. I have rarely started a Saturday so rested and relaxed.
I would probably still be sleeping, if Paul hadn’t awakened at 7:00 and eventually slipped out of the room. Just a few years into the marriage he developed the stealth and silence of a Ninja trying to never, ever wake me, but he hasn’t figured out a way to simulate his presence. I perceived his absence and awoke soon after he left. I was still rubbing my eyes when he started bugging me to take Jack for his walk. I wanted to lie in bed and read without guilt but Paul was insistent. Reluctantly, I got up and dressed and we took Jack out.
We normally walk him every morning between 6:30 and 7:30 for a couple of miles or so, for 30 minutes or so. We leave the children, lock the house and carry a cell phone for them to call us, with any need. We leave lights on strategically so that if Eden wakes up first she can get to our siblings or to our bed without fear. Many mornings we return to her sitting on our pillows, her hair mussed, her eyes sleepy, but smiling and shouting a cheery, “Welcome home!” And we are welcomed.
This morning, as Paul grabbed the keys, he reached for his phone and hesitated, “Do I need to bring the phone?” We would only be gone for half an hour…The kids were safely at my sister’s…Carrying the phone seemed excessive and paranoid.
“Leave it. We’ll be back in 30 minutes.” I said.
The morning was really beautiful; cold but not bitter, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A trail is being built by our home and we decided to head North, a way we haven’t yet walked. Jack was eager and happy but docile. We walked along and talked about what we wanted to do, admired the scenery and encouraged the dog who was being so good. It was a great walk. However, it was not 30 minutes. All told we were gone almost an hour.
We had barely hung up our coats and still felt that rush of a cold face in a warm room, when the phone rang. I noted, curiously, that it was Torey. She ‘d told me to not even bother calling until 11:00. It was only a little after 9:00.
“Did you get my 18 messages!” Greetings were set aside.
“No, we were out walking. What’s wrong?”
“Your daughter fell down the stairs and knocked her tooth back. Dr. Devon is meeting us at the office. I tried your house, your phone, Paul’s!”
“I’m sorry! We figured we’d just be gone a little bit. Sorry! We’ll meet you there, OK?”
So we kennelled the dog, pulled on our coats and drove over to the dentist’s. We live quite close, so we were the first there. It was strange to be on the periphery of one of our chidren’s medical emergencies, so much that we weren’t sure whose it was.
“I assumed it was Eden, but she said, “Your daughter” so I don’t really know.” I told Paul.
After a few minutes our dentist pulled in and then Torey did. We hustled to the car. Both girls were in the backseat, but it was Eden, still in her pajamas, smelling faintly of sausages who was biting on a folded and wet paper towel. Her pink, winter hat framed her sweet face. The dentist took a quick look, told her to sit tight and then ran into his office. In a moment he was back, adjusted the tooth and said it was good.
“She didn’t, by any chance, knock the dead one?” I asked. A few months ago she had fallen and killed her front tooth, It’s hard to spot, but it’s slightly darker than the other.
“Let me see, ” he said, pulling open Eden’s jaw. “Nope. She got the other.” He smirked at us.
He gave us instructions and then was off. Torey whispered, “Do you want to ask her if she wants to come back to the sleepover?”
“You want her?”
My sister is a saint.
Eden wanted to return. At the closest party store Paul kitted her out with popsicles and ice cream per the dentist’s instructions and a danish just because. We stopped at the house to get her dosed with Tylenol and then they were on their way.
On our own Paul made a move to start cleaning up the mess from a window we just had installed. I looked at him. “Are you kidding me? I’m don’t want to spend our “sleepover” cleaning up the deck, AND I haven’t had any COFFEE.”
He saw my point.
We went out for breakfast instead.
The Bean got her shot and was very brave.
“This will hurt for just a little bit,” the nurse said, “it’s OK to cry or even shout but you can’t move or it will hurt a lot.”
I appreciated her honesty. Eden didn’t even flinch although her little tears wet my shirt where her face was pressed against my chest. I have had a headache all day and didn’t get enough rest. My nose is still running and yet, when my kids need me, it is so easy to forget myself. Although I wouldn’t have chosen this interlude today, and it certainly took away from things I needed to do, it enhanced the day too. These people call out such tenderness from me. I can be thankful for these opportunities to be with them, Eden in her fear and courage and the older two in their gentleness and sweetness to her.
I am weary, filled with love and thankful.
Awoke to sinus pain at 2 a.m.
Read a book until some time after 5 a.m.
Passed out again
Crawled out of bed at 8 a.m.
Rescued two toads from the love of the Bean
Made a run to the pharmacy to get meds for allergies
Commanded everyone to wear shoes whilst in the construction zone
Removed the last of the cedar shakes
Had a long phone call regarding a ministry for which I volunteer
Busted up a brawl between the homeschoolers that broke out while I was on the phone
Gave First Aid to a Bean who slipped off her shoes and sliced her toe in all the excitement.
Negotiated peace between the warring parties
Take a Bean to the doctor for a tetanus shot
Go to the library
Shop for groceries
Launder all of our laundry
Pick up the dining room and our bedroom
Walk the dog
Sleep through the stinking night