Today was a special day for the children. Rose went to Auntie Celia's house for lunch, book reading, and flower arranging. Lee had Grandparent's Day at Hoover Elementary. They also had a slumber party at the Stevens' house after school.
The children's overnight backpacks were already loaded in the car when I went to pick up Lee. However, Rose still tried to pack several additional purses as well as her foam sword and golden belt that she uses like Wonder Woman's lasso. I told her she could only bring one toy and somehow she managed to convince me to bring along a stack of artwork, a school worksheet, and five little acorns stuck on popsicle sticks instead of the toys.
While getting in the car, she asks for help seeing as her hands are full. I take her stack of papers and put them on Lee's booster seat.
This of course creates a problem when we pick up Lee. In a panic, Rose calls out from the back seat, "Mommy! You forgot to move my papers!"
"I can't reach them," I tell her. And besides, it is too late. The traffic attendant has called Lee's name through her megaphone, and he comes trotting down the grassy hillside in front of the school to our car. He opens the door and drops Rose's papers onto the car floor.
I brace myself for an explosion. But instead Rose leans over baby Benny and says, "Look Benny! Look who's here! Your favorite brother! Aren't you so happy to see him?"
To which Lee replies, "Rose, that's rude to say that. Mommy, today we watched a movie in my class. We watched two movies. Peter Pan and a truck movie. And Grandma and Grandpa Stevens came to my class and I had lunch with them!"
"Lee!" I exclaim. "What Rose said was not rude. She was welcoming you."
Rose bursts into tears. "Mommy, I want Grandma and Grandpa Stevens to go to my school! Why didn't they come to my school?"
Lee goes on, describing the movies he watched in class. Rose continues to cry.
I wonder how to remedy all this: Lee's uncharitable words and Rose's sorrow at not having the same special day as Lee. She'd had her lunch with Auntie Celia. Wasn't that enough?
In the meantime the traffic attendant signals to me, and I roll down my window.
"Do you have any other children to pick up?" she asks me. She's obviously confused as to why I am holding up the traffic.
As I drive off, I begin my speech. I point out exactly what I think of the children's reactions.
Lee responds with, "I'm plugging my ears."
And Rose says curtly. "You dropped my papers on the ground, Mommy!"
I breath deeply and begin to pray. What is there to say? Is there anything really worth saying? I am so disappointed about having to cut off my son's report for the day. He rarely gives me reports of his days. I do wish to hear it, but I doubt that I'll get anything from him now.
We drive down Painter and then onto Whittier Boulevard. I wonder if I should try to explain things again or if the children have already moved on.
"Mommy, how big is Benny's bottom?" Rose asks from the back seat.
They have moved on, which is good although my blood pressure is still rather high. I answer, "The size of two peaches." I get a mental picture of this and decide that Benny's bottom is probably smaller than two peaches, probably more like the cleavage of one peach, but that is hardly worth clarifying.
"I would still love to hear about your day, Lee," I try. To my relief, Lee volunteers more. The story is different this time. Different movie. Different activities with Grandma and Grandpa. I never really know what's true or not with that boy.
Rose corrects him on one point in his story, and he flares up again. "You don't know everything, Rose. You don't know how cars are made and you don't know how concrete is made and you don't know how trees grow and you don't know how big is the sky and you don't know all those things."
"I know about a lot of things, Lee," Rose replies. "I know a big word. What's that big word that I know, Mommy?"
I smile as I turn onto Colima. "Nocturnal."
"Yes. I know Jie-urnal. And I know what scavenge means. That's when they get lots of things because there's no food in the winter. And I know a lot of things, Lee. I know addresses and I know that God is big and I know that Bigwig is safe and I know lots of things."
I decide to interrupt this impressive display of knowledge to inform the children that their grandparents don't want to have two bickering children over for a slumber party, and unless they want to return home, the fighting must stop and apologies follow.
They apologize with a touch of sarcasm that I didn't know was possible in their voices. Thank God, for grandparents and slumber parties!