Tonight my children bounced off of one another and careened around the upstairs and generally behaved with good—if somewhat frenetic—cheer. When I flopped down onto my bed and asked if we would be reading tonight, Chickadee rushed to my side.
“No,” she said, putting her hand over our book (which was still sitting on my nightstand), “I don’t want to read tonight.”
“Really?” For my kids to say they don’t want to read is akin to declaring that they’re not in the mood for oxygen. It never happens. “Why don’t you want to read?”
“I would rather have some quality family time,” she replied, while I swallowed my tongue from the effort of not laughing.
“Reading IS quality family time,” I pointed out.
“Yes, but I would like to just talk.” She settled down on the bed next to me, while Monkey bounded up and nestled into my opposite side.
“Alrighty, what should we talk about?” I knew the answer already.
“I want to talk about moving,” Chickadee said, firmly.
“Okay. Have you been thinking about that?” I pulled her close and stroked her hair. So that I wouldn’t have to watch her roll her eyes at me.
“MOOOOOM. Once you know you’re going to be moving, you’re ALWAYS thinking about that.”
“Yes, you’re right. How silly of me. Okay, what about moving should we talk about?”
We talked about when we’ll be going (sometime after school ends, but also after they go on vacation with Daddy), where we’ll be living (we don’t know yet, but yes, we’ll know before school ends so that we can give our friends the address), and a few other logistical issues.
“Also…” Chickadee paused, tried to keep her voice casual. “What’s it going to BE like, you know, once we’re all living with Otto?”
“Oh, well,” I wasn’t sure where this was going. “It’ll be different, huh? Have you been worrying about that part?”
“Yeah.” She glanced up at me, checking to make sure I wasn’t mad. “It’s just… well… he’s never been a dad before.”
“That’s true,” I agreed. “He’s going to need a lot of help, I bet. And it’s going to be a big adjustment for ALL of us. We’re all going to have to get used to things, and it’ll take some time.”
“Mama? I had an idea earlier. I was thinking maybe Monkey and I could make Otto a book about how to be a dad.”
“Oh, I think that’s a WONDERFUL idea! I bet he’d like that. What sorts of things will you put in it?”
She beamed; I guess she hadn’t expected me to be so receptive to her idea. “Well, you know, like that you should be nice to your kids and not hit them and stuff.”
“I think he knows not to hit you guys, sweetie.” Monkey giggled. Chickadee grinned.
“I know, but stuff LIKE that. Like, I dunno, that he should know that maybe we’re kind of grumpy in the morning. And that we like chocolate milk.”
We talked about the book a while longer (“And it should say that he shouldn’t feed us too much junk food or we’ll get sick!” Monkey chimed in, ever helpful), and then I tucked both kids into their beds and bid them goodnight.
I can’t wait to see the finished book.
Here’s what my kids don’t know: Yesterday, Otto showed me something that made me cry. He found Monkey a tie clip very much like the tie clip he wears, the one that was his father’s and his grandfather’s before him. He told me that he’ll give it to him before the wedding “so that they can be coordinated.” I started to (gently, I hope) point out that if he gave Monkey something, Chickadee would also need something, and he immediately said that he was already working on that.
The bachelor who once had no idea what to make of my kids is thinking of them, thinking of our new family, without any prompting from me. He is getting to know them and figuring out the rules of engagement and soon he’ll even have a custom-made manual.
I am learning to step aside and watch the three of them dance around each other. Where I was once terrified they would never love each other as much as I love all of them, I now watch and wait. They are reaching out to each other, checking back with me for reassurance, and forging onward.
They are loving each other. Slowly, cautiously; wonderfully. It takes my breath away.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone. May you know the joy of watching love find its way right before your eyes, this week and always.