I took the kids to the park tonight. They'd been in the house most of the day on their Thanksgiving break (they get the whole damn week) and had slouched into a marriage with the pale, blue glow of an iPad. It's what I do all day, too. Just bonding with the electronic ether. Have we decided if that's a cancer risk yet? Anyway, we rolled out to the park in the dark. I invited the boys but as soon as Eliot heard park she was on it. She charged at me shouting "outside!" before jamming her bare feet into her pink boots. Her fireman pjs handed down from her brothers made for a welcome contrast. The boys wrestled with reality and its determination to rarely reveal the whereabouts of their shoes. Sarah did her best to guide them, sometimes with a bit of a biting edge. There is no sadder time devoid of hope for the future than watching your children not find the shoes they were just wearing.
Outside is so much better. It doesn't help that I don't love our house. I get the value of having a roof over our head but this one and me have been together too long. We've remodeled twice and had more work done than Johnny Depp. I'm over it. I just want to get outside. It bugs Sarah that I rush to leave and don't wait for her and the painstaking preparation that goes into going anywhere with children. Granted, I never don't appreciate her foresight, it's just that I need to get out. And that was the five of us (Paco included) still zipping coats as we crossed the street to the park. The bright moon did wonders to share the nightscape, but without all the glaring imperfections of our dying yard and overgrown maple tree. Chores looks so much better after dusk.
I won't say that for Eliot. She's in her adorable prime...the cuteness a Darwinian gift to the otherwise distressing and defenseless. She's already rolling her eyes at me. Well, it's not quite an eye roll. It's more of a side glance that seems to Etch-a-sketch away her smile and return a fat-lip frown. I have no idea where or how she learned that. Where does a two-year-old pick up how to be an indignant princess? Other than a doting father. Dammit. I just realized that as I was typing. I'm sharing my pride that my two year old can already manifest frustrations with teenage facial contortions. Of course it's me. I'm screwed.
So she's in the moonlight. The boys have decided to play hide and seek and Eliot and I are on a team. We end up being 'it' a lot and it seems the boys' rules are flexible to their favor. We're counting to 30 and I'm looking at this girl in the moonshine (too bad that word went to the rednecks because it says as much as its solar sister but in a more soulful way, if you ask me) and her dark eyes are huge and deep. She's happy and so excited to be a part of the game that I'm not at risk for the mood altering eye sweep. She's just glowing in the dark and I get this deja vu. I get this sense that I've been here but could have never imagined it. As if deja vu isn't even possible because these kids in the dark in a park have defied my own expectations; all my priors combined. I pause and try to feel if it is some kind of dream. Is it simply deja vu--whatever the Hell that actually is--or is it just a sweet second doubled up on itself in a rare thumbtack to the brain. I'm always moving and thinking and plotting and here there's none of that.
We find the boys pretty quickly. The big moon is unforgiving. Their silhouettes cut stark figures against the radiant dark blue. We spot them and I ask what I'm supposed to do next. I remember having to tag kids before they got to base, but in this version all you do is find them. There's no chase or battling over who was actually on base or not. My boys still manage to find a point to bicker on. They're quarreling geniuses who could, at any moment in any setting, find something to battle about, so this provided no challenge at all. Apparently, in this lighter version of hide n' seek, the first kid found is the next to be 'it'. I saw them at the same time so there's no easy answer.
Eliot smiles and laughs her crazy cackle. She's a part of something with the big kids and she loves it. The boys break up their battle and decide that I'll be 'it' again. I'm cool with that. I'm just glad to be there.