The kids came back tonight, and they were taller and bigger and I couldn’t stop marveling at how just two weeks made them different.
Monkey looked like he was gaining weight on the cruise, actually, and two more weeks of voracious eating have settled on his frame in a way that renders him less the spindly waif I’ve known for so many years, and more a sturdy boychild who could tip into adolescence at any moment. We made him hop on the Wii Fit to weigh him; it claims he gained 8 pounds in the last month.
Chickadee is now mere inches away from being my height. She will be taller than me by the time she starts high school, but she still doesn’t believe it. She is shedding the skin of childhood ever-faster, and two weeks in one fell swoop catches in my throat and seems more than I can swallow. She is so lovely and so goofy; so lovely BECAUSE she is so goofy.
They asked to swim and although it was time for dinner we said of course.
Weeks of oppressive heat have turned the pool into a giant hot tub. The kids and I lowered ourselves into the water and made jokes about passing the soap in this hot bath. Otto snuck out behind us, raced to the diving board, and executed a spectacular cannonball before anyone could move out of the splash zone. Well played, Otto.
The kids swarmed him when he came up. “Throw me!” “Lift me up!” “Toss me like you did last summer!” He gave it all he had, but there was no denying they’re significantly harder to lift and eject, now, than they were just one year ago.
[Aside: At one point, while attempting to lift-and-throw Chickadee, Otto ended up taking a foot to a rather sensitive part of the anatomy. Chickadee, thinking she’d accidentally kicked him in the stomach, immediately offered, “I’ll rub it to make it feel better!” Poor horrified Otto all but screamed, “NO!” while I laughed so hard I nearly drowned.]
In their absence, we spent $7 on the last tiny inflatable boat on the shelf at Big Lots. We blew it up in the family room one night, then tried to convince the dog to sit it in. She was skeptical. I sat in it, and called her into my lap. Thus passed several days of “boating” in the family room; I hoped that by habituating her to the boat, we might be able to use it for her in the pool. At the very least, I reasoned that on a hot day we could just leave it poolside and fill it with some water from the hose, so that she’d have a place to cool off even if she continued to hate the pool.
But this evening, it wasn’t all that hot, and Licorice wasn’t going anywhere near the boat so long as it was near the pool, so after much begging I told the kids they could use it. The boat went into the pool, the kids went into the boat, the pool went into the boat, bailing was bravely done with a frisbee, Monkey the Threatening Shark (one hand held up over the head) looked an awful lot more like Monkey the Swimming Rooster, but his sister pretended to be scared anyway, and in general, I cannot think of another $7 I’ve spent and gotten such keen enjoyment.
By the time the bugs started coming out, the kids had the boat flipped over and were swimming underneath it, using the seating cavity as an air bubble. They shuffled over to where Otto and I were drying off, and tipped the boat off their heads. Chickadee intoned, “This is our underwater taxi pizza delivery service. We are delivering pizzas to the underwater sea creatures.” They put the boat back on their heads amidst gales of laughter, and headed back to the deep end.
And just like that, everything is right in my world again.