AND JUST like that, on the final day of break, it seemed to hit us all at once. Tomorrow, the girls will be back at school. Tomorrow, J. and I will be back at work. Tomorrow, real life returns.
So we spent today kind of grumping around, being snippy with each other and cranky at life in general. It’s not that real life is bad. It’s just that break life — sleeping in, trampolining, gathering with friends on weeknights (!) — is, well, better. And now that all of that is about to end, we’re a bit tetchy about it.
We’ll settle back in and get our respective mojos back, hopefully before we devour each other. Until then, here’s a prayer of gratitude to the calendar gods that we’re going back to a two-day work/school week. | DL
THE HOUR had grown late, and the All-Star Game had yet to see a Phillie appear, when R. noticed that Fox had cut to the National League’s bullpen, where Cliff Lee was warming up.
As the fourth inning ended, long past her bedtime, I looked to R., already fading on the love seat, and said, “You want to see Cliff pitch?”
WHEN SHE heard that her final indoor soccer game had been switched to a players-versus-parents scrimmage, R. uncaged her inner trash talker almost immediately.
“What do you think?” I wrote in forwarding her coach’s note about the change.
“4 words, Dad,” she emailed back. “I will cream you.”
That’s how I found myself yesterday morning wearing a t-shirt and shorts, standing inside an enormous complex of basketball courts and artificially turfed soccer fields, and hoping not to pull anything so severely that I couldn’t drive home.
FOR ALL of the poise and skill they show on the pitch, in the concert hall, and on the boards, R. and Q. lately have taken to reminding us that they are 11 and 6. It’s as if they don’t want Mrs. D. and me to get too smug in our parenting achievements. And it’s working.
R. is questioning every last request, comment, and direction, whether it involves her chores, her clothes, or her bedtime. “Why?” “Why not?” “No, I don’t.” “Yes, I do.” “But, Dad/Mom …” These are flung at us constantly, in response to the very smallest and most insignificant statement on our part. It’s a grinding ground war, and each instance of resistance represents another few inches of depth in the trench she continues to dig with dogged determination.
LEST YOU think that R. is the only Dadlibbing daughter with artistic tendencies, rest assured that Q. is beginning to make her mark as well. At age 6.
A wonderful, dedicated mom at Q.’s elementary school is staging a couple of student-starring musicals next month to raise money for our Parent Teacher Organization. She recruited volunteers to help backstage and landed my piano teacher as the shows’ pianist. And she announced auditions in order to separate the actors into two groups: speaking parts and chorus.
What Mrs. D. and I didn’t realize until the night before was that Q. was supposed to memorize lines from one of the scenes for her audition. Each of us spent the remainder of the evening and some of the next morning running lines with her. By the time she left for school, script in hand for further study, she was doing pretty well. But she’s in kindergarten, after all, so we were all kinda, “Yeah, we should have started helping her earlier, but she’ll have fun in the chorus, and she’ll have plenty more chances in the years to come.”
SHE IS but 11, yet as R. stood on stage, her hair fixed just so, wearing a short-sleeve button-up shirt and a frilly black skirt, and running the bow across the strings of her violin with skill and poise, she looked much, much older.
Q. typically is the one we see as acting above her age. Because she’s scary-smart and loves to hang out with her big sister, she seems like a tween trapped in a 6-year-old’s body. R., though, the personification of sweetness, with a heart as big as the sky, is impossible to conceive of as less than two years away from being a teenager.
But at last week’s violin recital, dressed as she was, playing as she did, R. began — just barely, mind you — to come into focus as the young woman who’s not too far away. As much as I want to stave it off, it was a beautiful sight. | DL
EVERY MONDAY evening since last summer, I’ve taken R. to a house on the edge of our neighborhood, where she spends a half-hour seated at a gorgeous grand piano learning melodies and chords from a wonderful, fun, funky, funny teacher.
After she’s finished, she moves to a chair near the fireplace, and I take her place.
At the tender age of 43, I am finally learning how to play a musical instrument. (I choose not to count the air guitar I’ve played for many years.)