paying attention

I take the dog out for her nightly constitutional.

The evening, cool and eerily still, no heat pump running.  So silent I can hear the absence of sound.  My ears strain and I detect tiny feet walking across dry leaves, something easy to crush underfoot.

The dog has no interest in her bodily functions. She is more interested in peering into the dark dark wood.  Does she hear something? Or is the silence strange for her too?

One bright star blazes in a blue so dark that it is almost, but not quite, black.  It suspends directly over our house, blessing all those within.

Then it comes to me, the barest whisper, almost too far away — the call of a whip-poor-will.  A sound that recalls such longing.  I remember hearing whip-poor-wills as a little girl.  Our family did not have air conditioning, and we slept every night with the windows open, blankets and sheets thrown back, the night air gentling across skin.  I would drift away feeling safe and content in the night and song.

I’m not sure I can identify the bird and make a note to look it up.

Walking the dog back toward the porch, I remember how Sid and I sat there the previous evening with little tiki torches lit as the sun went down. We sat on the double rocker he bought me when I was pregnant with our first child.  Finances were tight, but I wanted it because I imagined that we would sit close together, holding our baby.

Of course, that rarely happened.  He was gone for long hours every day, working and I was up most of the night, desperate to get our small human to eat and to survive.

Here we are, 19 years later, and we can sit in the cool of the evening on this rocker on our front porch, flames dancing on the wine glass tiki torches made by that baby-grown-up.  We can talk about our hopes and plan for the future better than we could before.  I guess we grew up too.  Mostly.

It is like we are partners, after all this time, working together.  The way I had always dreamed.

I go in the house, intending to schedule more evenings on the porch with torches burning, listening for the whip-poor-will.


Some may note that this is not the season for porch-sitting.  I wrote this last year, late summer, early fall.

All Prairie, All Personality

Prairie, in one of her rambling monologues . . .

“I want to be a Mama President when I grow up.  I guess I will be a mama first since I have to wait until I’m 35 years old to be president.  But I am fairly attractive so I will probably get married young.”

 

. . . . . .

 

We were all piled in the car driving home, and Sid read “facts” we were taught in school that are no longer true, like Pluto being a planet.

Prairie pipes up, “Hey, y’all, I have a scientific fact that I learned just now.  When you hum with your mouth closed, the sound comes out your nose.”

Sid “Well, you could say that a little bit of sound comes out your ears.”

Prairie, deciding to test this new theory right away, uses her hands to cover up her ears.  Realizing she is short a third hand, she demands, “Rachel, grab my nose!”

 

. . . . . . . .

 

Prairie – “you know what”

Sidney – “Prairie, what is ‘you know what’?”

Rachel – “She means sex.”

Sidney – “Prairie you use ‘you know what’ to mean a lot of things”

Prairie – “Well then, I’ll say ‘YOU KNOW you know what”

 

. . . . . . . . . .

 

Prairie, “Life would be so much easier if we were all nudists.  I mean like everybody would be all the same, right?”

Me, intrigued, “In what ways do you think life would be easier?”

Prairie, coy and giving me a look of tolerance, “Mama, it is complicated,”

 

They know me TOO well

A house full of teenagers is a house that goes to bed later and later, and our mornings were starting later and later.

So this week, I declared that all teens should be in bed by 10 pm, with a book or kindle, no phones  Last night, from my bed, I heard doors opening and closing and footsteps in the hallway.  Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was 10:20 pm.

Ah-ha, I thought, climbing out of bed and heading toward the kids’ rooms.  Seeing a light under the girls’ bedroom door, I knocked and entered with my most terrifying frown.  Prairie takes one look at me and rushes, “Mama, you would be proud of us.  Rachel and I were downstairs having lots of liberal conversation with the boys until 10 pm.”

My girls having liberal conversation with their brothers?  Well, okay then.

I blew the girls kisses and told them goodnight.  In bed, I relayed our kids shenanigans to Sid.  “They’ve got your number,” he said.

 

The things one hears in this house

“…like a crescent roll of adorableness.”  Lincoln, 17

“Blankets bite!”  Rachel, 15

“I’m swinging my dad’s underwear over my head!” Sidney, 19

“I’m a cat, lady, I don’t know everything!” Prairie, 13

“It looks like you’re trying to digest your stomach with your hands!” Prairie, 13

“Have you ever looked around the room for something, and then realized that you’re sitting on it?” Lincoln, 17

“Thank you so much, that’s much helpfuller.” Prairie, 13

In which I wonder if I am raising responsible adults and who determines that anyway?

A knock breaks the silence of the room in the basement, where I might have chosen to be for its potential to hide me for 30 minutes.

“Yes?” I muffled, refusing to change position, my forehead pressed into the rug.

The 19-year-old walks in.  “Just an update to let you know what’s going on in your house,” Sidney says.  I concentrate on keeping my shoulders relaxed in child’s pose and breathing deeply.   Stay in the yoga flow, peace, mindfulness of the breath.  Though I can’t resist a mental eyeroll, a tiny ripple in my river of peace.

“I just electrocuted myself in the mouth a little bit and your phones don’t work, but I’m working on fixing that.”

“How is your mouth feeling?” I dutifully ask.

“It’s alright.  It was only about 48 volts.”

I’m glad that I did not lift my head for this.

 

* * *

 

Later, I overhear Sidney and Lincoln talking . . .

“You electrocuted yourself?” Lincoln asked.

“Well, it was only 48 volts,” Sidney replied.  “You don’t feel that in your fingers, but you really feel it on your tongue.”

Confused, I trip into the conversation, “Wait.  How do you happen to feel it on your tongue?”

Sidney grins, “Because I licked it.”