Like Father, Like Son

At Christmas, my kids get to see their cousins from a couple of states away, which they always love. This past Christmas, my eleven year old nephew, Jack, brought a drone, which he proved very adept at flying.

We’d all watch – mesmerized – as he hovered it gently just above the floor or zoomed it across the living room, doing little flips along the way. It was obvious he had spent a lot of time with it because he had masterful control.

And then we opened presents and Daryl discovered that Jack’s family had bought him the exact same drone. Once gift opening was completed, the boys all headed outside to fly their drones.

It wasn’t long before they came back in.

Jack was excitedly telling his dad that Daryl had pressed the auto-land button but instead, the drone had shot up into the air, over the trees, and disappeared.

“It wouldn’t have done that if he had pressed the auto-land button,” my brother countered.

“But that’s what happened!” the boys all insisted. They headed out to the creek near my mom’s house and searched for the drone. At our suggestion, they went door-to-door at the neighbors’ houses, asking if they could search their backyards.

They only searched one backyard – no one else was home. My mom and I made a flyer and forced Daryl to go back to the neighbors and leave flyers and ask everyone to keep an eye out for the missing drone.

The adults are all fairly certain that Daryl flew the drone too high and then, instead of pushing the auto-land button as he intended, pushed the auto-take-off button, which rocketed the drone outside of his radio control and into a large gust of wind.

The drone is gone. Fastest end to a Christmas present ever.

The incident reminded me significantly of my husband’s remote control airplane he bought back when we were in our early college days. He bought the large balsa-wood plane, replacement propellers, extra av gas, and a whole host of other accessories because, and I quote, “I’m going to be flying this thing a lot. I’ve always wanted to do this.”

We took it to the local softball fields so he’d have plenty of room. First go at it, he ran it along the grass to pick up speed, then didn’t get enough lift and crashed it full speed into a fence. Propellers broken.

But we had replacement propellers! Yay! Some time with some tools and the plane was ready to go again. He’d learned from that attempt and this time got the plane into the air.

Almost immediately, something appeared to be wrong. The plane kept flying further and further away. I glanced nervously at my husband. Does he know what he’s doing? I thought.

“Honey?” I finally asked tentatively. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t see the plane,” he said. This was nigh on 25 years ago, so I don’t remember all the details, but I think he might not have had his glasses on.

The plane eventually nosedived into, just like his son years later, a nearby creek. We were, in one small detail, more fortunate than our son in that we found the plane. The end result was the same, however. The plane was mangled beyond repair. It was no more.

Over the next five years, the expensive av gas was used to get the burn piles going (we lived out in the country) and the cost of the plane and its accessories sat on our credit card for years. And I used the tale to my benefit for a very long time. Any time I did something stupid and he teased me about it, I’d mention the plane and he’d get quiet.

Eventually, my list of stupid things got long enough or I finally did a stupid something that outstripped his in total cost that it stopped being propped up as an argument. I actually hadn’t thought about it in quite some time. Until our son repeated the experience.

Like father, like son. I love these guys…

Death & Guilt & Moving On

It’s been three weeks.

Three weeks since life ended.

Three weeks since life resumed.

And I still haven’t figured out what to say.

When the process of dying is prolonged, it messes with a person. Not just the person dying but the people who care for him as well. Your emotions trick you and betray you and guilt you and sometimes overwhelm you.

Am I sad? I think so. Do I look it? I doubt it.

Do I miss my father-in-law? I think so. But not the recent him. The him from before. Except…

That smile. His smile over the last few weeks. It was so genuine, so simple, so pure. It lit up his face like a child. It would come on suddenly like a flash of lightning across his face. I couldn’t get enough of it. It stood in such stark contrast to his personality before he got sick. He was fairly negative during the time I knew him. Not toward me. He wasn’t unloving. But his outlook on the world was glass-half-empty.

And now the guilt sets in. How could you? How could you say anything bad at all?

But I don’t see it as bad. Just fact.

 

Guilt.

 

I think it surrounds so much of this process. Guilt at getting my husband for five days at the expense of his father staying in a nursing home that he didn’t want to be in. Knowing that his outlook took a nose-dive the day it was time to go. But overjoyed that I got my husband anyway.

Guilt at hoping for release. Guilt at getting impatient at the rebounds.

Guilt at slipping away to see my mom and leaving my husband there to tend to his dad. Guilt at seeing my naked father-in-law as I helped change sheets and wondering if he knew or cared.

Guilt at getting put out with my husband for not appreciating all that I was doing when he was living a life I can’t even imagine.

Guilt at not bursting into tears when I found out. Guilt at being a little upset that I had been woken up to receive the news.

Guilt at taking so long to write this blog.

Guilt at how quickly I resumed “normal life” after. Guilt at not recognizing that my husband was not resuming normal life nearly as well as I thought. Guilt at failing to notice his struggle.

 

The kids didn’t cry.

 

Jane, when prompted, said she had already come to terms with it. Daryl got still for a minute and then went about what he was doing. Hal matter-of-factly stated, “Two things. First, a good thing. Daddy is coming home. Second, bad. Poppy passed away.”

How is one supposed to act when the news you knew would come finally does? It’s not a surprise. The horror and anguish and anger and great sense of unfairness of it all has already been lived out. What is there to do besides nod and continue on. Say a prayer of… what? Thanksgiving? The suffering is over. Whose suffering? Sometimes I wonder who gets more of the release. The living or the dead.

 

I suppose the dead.

 

Now we have the house and the accounts and the notifying people and decisions, decisions, decisions. My husband has become a monotonous accountant droning on to me about the various options for dealing with this or that fiduciary obligation. I know he needs me to listen, to help him decide, to be present, but…

 

Life doesn’t stop.

 

We need to spend time there. At his father’s house. Sorting through papers and clothes and artwork and… stuff. But basketball. Destination Imagination. Church. Choir. School. Work. Meetings. Bells. Laundry. Dishes.

How can life feel on pause for two and a half months yet not pause now? How did all that stuff get done while we waited, while we were apart? Why is it all overwhelming us now? When do we fit in this settling of an estate?

Despite all these words, I still haven’t figured out what to say.

To you.

To people who express their condolences.

To my husband.

To my children.

To myself.

What Makes Me Happy

You know what makes me happy?

That there is candle wax on pages 59 and 60 of the hymnal.

That my ill son insisted on attending church on Christmas Eve because he wanted to hold a candle and sing Silent Night.

That, even though he slept through the entire service and had to be woken to hold his candle, and even though he never sings with us on Sunday mornings, I nevertheless heard his voice carrying loud and strong as we sang tonight.

That the women in the choir sang a beautiful descant as we held our candles in the air.

That a congregation not entirely comfortable with singing nevertheless filled the sanctuary with their voices on Christmas Eve.

That my husband was able to be with us almost as if our circumstances were not what they are.

That I never tire of the beauty of the moment.

Merry Christmas everyone.

This is our life. For now.

To say it’s been rough the last few weeks would be a major understatement. I just looked at the calendar and saw that it’s really only been 22 days since the chaos truly started. It feels like a lifetime.

We traveled back home 3 1/2 weeks ago for three reasons: participate in my husband’s grandfather’s memorial service, celebrate our children’s birthdays with my family, and visit my father-in-law. At that point, my father-in-law was living at home by himself.

The first blip of trouble came Saturday night when we were visiting with my husband’s family on his mom’s side after the service. His dad called. He was in severe pain. Off my husband went to help his dad. The level of medication hospice administered to get him back on track left him pretty out of it.

Really out of it.

As we built a ramp for his front porch on Monday, we came to a grim conclusion: he shouldn’t be left home alone to fend for himself. There was no chance that he could keep his mountain of medications straight. And so… my husband stayed and I drove the kids home, getting in after midnight.

That week was a blur of shifting responsibilities. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. To have him suddenly not around was more than just an inconvenience.  Jane had thankfully passed her driving test the previous week. Hal’s best friend’s mom agreed to pick him up from school as long as needed. Jane and her boyfriend, between the two of them, made sure Daryl made it home too.

And we just worked on surviving.

We returned to Oklahoma the next weekend, but had to wait until after halftime Friday night to leave, meaning once again I was driving hours after I would normally be asleep. But there was hope when we arrived. Poppy, as the children call him, was doing much better. Maybe Daddy could come home.

He gained some concessions from his dad – the most critical being that he would not drive. The truck was removed from the premises. Arrangements were made for a friend to come during the day. My husband would return on the weekends. We had a plan. My husband came home.

The plan lasted two days. Just enough time for him to keep his doctor’s appointment and vote early. By Wednesday afternoon, the friend was calling to say his dad was “not snapping out of it.” He shouldn’t spend the night without someone there.

My husband started packing. I left work to see him off. We hugged and hoped and wished each other well. And he was off. Again.

Circumstances changed for the weekend, making it possible for me to visit him. The kids, on the other hand, had plans – and were wearing down from all the traveling. Next thing I knew, I was making intricate plans to get each kid from place to place in my absence. The Angel Mom who was picking Hal up from school each day said he could spend the weekend with them. Daryl had a slumber party to go to. Jane had a parade to march in.

I drove back to Oklahoma, not as late on the road as other trips, but still… I was making the trip. Again. It was a lifesaver for my husband, who was having trouble keeping his days straight. His dad basically slept the entire time I was there. He was extremely unstable, falling repeatedly, and he wasn’t very coherent when awake. He was in terrible shape and the hospice nurse was predicting not much time left.

But then they put him on all liquid medications the next week, due to his difficulty swallowing, increased some dosages, reduced others, and suddenly, he was stable again. He could walk without his walker. Walk without falling. Spend a decent amount of time awake. Be a little more understandable when he spoke.

Was this the “last hurrah” before the end? Or was this the start of something more long term? We didn’t know. And this – this is probably the hardest part. The not knowing. If you know, you can plan. If you don’t know, you just wait. And react. Everything is on hold. You can commit to nothing.

And so, even though it would make four weekends in a row for me, and the kids all wilted a bit when I told them, we decided to return the following weekend. What if it was the last opportunity?

This time, we had to attend a Destination Imagination training event Saturday morning first, so we didn’t make it in until Saturday evening. The change from the previous weekend was remarkable! He seemed to be doing so much better!

Sort of.

It’s like he’s nesting or something. He keeps wanting to rearrange things in the house. He wants me to look at stuff and decide what I want. But he gets distracted in a heartbeat. So he might run dishwater and then decide he wants to move a dresser and then as you unload things from the dresser, start going through a cabinet and then leave the cabinet open and announce that he’s going to lay down. The nap might last 10 minutes before he’s up again and starting a new task.

I began to understand why my husband was exhausted. It’s hard to keep up when someone isn’t making sense. We left less than 24 hours after we arrived and my worry over my husband skyrocketed.

There are good moments. They might occur at 3:00 in the morning, but there are moments that my husband will cherish. Time spent in conversation or just in the pleasant company of his father. The full and sincere hugs. The beatific smiles.

But there are bad moments too. Moments when his dad chafes under his loss of independence and dignity. When he decides he’ll drive and his son will have to call the police to stop him. When he decides he wants to cancel hospice because he doesn’t trust them. When his mind is messing with him.

All of this wears on my husband, who is now a full time caretaker and away from the people who give him strength and stability. And it wears on me, as I worry about him. I’ve been walking in a haze for awhile now. I haven’t been feeling much at all. Emotion, that is. The stress I’m feeling stronger than ever.

This is our life. For now.

A Tale to Remember

As we sat around the breakfast table, Poppy motioned to Hal to come sit in his lap.

“Tell me a story,” he said softly as the liquid Morphine began to kick in.

“I don’t know a story,” Hal attempted to demur.

After his initial attempts to not participate with “Once upon a time, the end” and his father’s admonitions that a story has a beginning, MIDDLE, and end, he offered up the following.

“Once upon a time, there was a booger and his mother died and he was very sad.”

I adopted a sad face while everyone around the table giggled nervously and Jane commented, “Well, that escalated quickly.”

“Ok, Jane. Now it’s your turn,” said Poppy.

“What?” she asked, confused by this break from how breakfast at Poppy’s would usually go. But these are not usual times for us. They are special and sad and stressful and precious end times.

“You take the story from here,” he said.

“Um, ok. So the booger lives in a nose and that’s organic so a new mother was grown out of the walls around it and they lived happily ever after.”

“Did you actually take Biology last year?” asked her dad.

“David,” said Poppy, impervious to the extraneous commentary surrounding the storytelling, “you pick it up now. It’s your turn.”

“Well, so Bob – that’s the booger’s name…”

“No!” cried Hal, now regretting that he hadn’t provided more details in his tale. “His name is Joe!”

“You didn’t name him,” admonished his dad. “You didn’t name him on your turn so David did.”

“Ok, so Bob,” continued David, “went on a journey to find a new nose to live in.”

“Was he a on a ship? Is he a Nasal Officer?” asked my husband.

“His name should be Casileous!” said Daryl.

“So he’s a Roman Nasal Officer?”

Everyone laughed until Poppy told us it wasn’t our turn and to let David continue. Jane’s boyfriend of a year, gamely continued.

“He went looking for the biggest nose he could find…”

“And then he found Mount Rushmore!” said Jane.

“Yes, he got to Mount Rushmore and crawled inside and was so happy.”

“Crazy Horse would be better. I think his nose is bigger,” said my husband. “You know, he came across an Italian booger named Luigi – he was a loogie…”

“Ok, it’s not your turn son. Daryl, take over the story.”

“Well, Bob shot out of the nose on a big sneeze and landed in a trashcan in an alley. And this guy came by and his name was Barry.”

Everyone groaned as Daryl’s obsession with the Flash was woven into the story.

“But he’s a life-size booger!” complained Hal, increasingly agitated yet fascinated at the deviations from his original idea.

“It was a Titan’s nose that he blew out of and it was a really big trashcan,” clarified Daryl. “He began to crawl out of the trashcan…”

My husband began contributing to the point that his dad told him to pick up the story.

“Well, Robert Casileous Luigi the Third, a Roman Nasal Officer did not crawl out of the trash can. He ate it. In one big bite. And he took on all the qualities of the trash and he was big and strong and impervious to Barry’s powers so it didn’t matter how fast the man was.”

“I’m going to make an injection here,” Poppy said. “Tell us about the knife.”

I was confused because I had no recollection of a knife being mentioned at all. But my husband, having spent all week with his sometimes very loopy father, didn’t miss a beat.

“It was large and green with a wide handle…”

“And it was made of porcelain,” I added.

“Yes! So it could pass through security and you could take it wherever you wanted. He used the knife to begin peeling an apple.”

He tried to pass the story off but was reprimanded by his dad who sternly informed him that he didn’t get to choose the transitions and he should continue.

“Well, he peeled the apple and shared it with all the creatures in the alley. The Daryls and the Hals and everyone else were happy.”

“Ok, your turn,” my ailing father-in-law said to me.

“Bob left the dark shade of the alley and entered the bright sunshine. His gelatinous skin began to sparkle.”

“Because he’s a vampire?” everyone asked.

“Yes, Bob is a vampire booger. And as he traveled along in the sunshine, it was very, very hot and he began to melt.”

Suddenly, I was hit by spraying liquid. My father-in-law, sitting next to me and listening intently to the story, had found a melting booger vampire extremely funny. Caught off-guard, he had just sprayed his coffee across the table – just like you see in the movies. Everyone began laughing as we cleaned up the mess.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just in all the different ways I’ve heard of vampires dying, melting has never been one of them. I wasn’t expecting that. Go on.”

“As Bob melted, he began to run down the street.”

“You mean run? Like with legs?” asked my husband.

“Ok, he oozed. As Bob melted, he oozed down the street and as streets curve down toward the curbs, he oozed to the curb and…”

“Not all streets do that,” he said.

“Well this one does. He oozed to the curb and then dripped down into the sewer where…”

“He met Donatello!” said Daryl.

“Or Splinter and he began to learn,” someone added.

“He dripped down into the sewer,” I repeated. “and plopped onto a wise rat. And as the effects of the sun wore off. Bob solidified on the rat and became a rat-shaped booger…”

“Who knew Kung Fu,” finished my husband.

“But what happened to Splinter?” asked Jane.

“He became part of Bob the super booger,” I said.

“He was assimilated,” added my husband.

The story ended as my father-in-law stood and thanked us. Later, he told my husband how much he loves “your family” before telling me he needed his oxygen and we worked to get him into his hospital bed.

He’s sleeping now. I can see him from where I sit. The rest of the family is outside, sanding and painting the handrails for the ramp we built last week, while I try to capture the details of our morning before I lose them in my tired, stressed-out, only half-functioning brain. Then I’ll fold his laundry and dispose of the rice grits he prepared but then decided not to eat.

You see, Poppy is dying. His cancer has won the battle on how long he gets to live. Now we are fighting instead to spend as much time with him as we can. We are fighting the cancer and the pain it causes him. We are fighting the pain medications and the mental confusion they cause. We are fighting against our physical and emotional limitations. We are fighting to make what time we have left matter.

Life has become simple. Yet harder than any period we’ve gone through so far. What is important and what is not is obvious. New pastor at church? There will be time enough to get to know him later. The tiles falling apart in our hall bathroom? Everyone can shower in the master bath. A fence for the dog? She’ll just have to spend time in the crate when we aren’t home, which is increasingly often. Our flailing budget? My responsibilities at church? Bell choir? Destination Imagination? Even work?

Those things are all important. But they can all wait. We are dealing with bigger and harder things. Can Poppy be by himself or does my husband need to stay again – like he did last week? Can we keep him safe and comfortable if we are in the next state over? How long will we spend in this state of being? How long can we hold up?

{Note: I wrote this on Sunday, October 30th but didn’t get to finish it and was always too tired to revisit it until now. The kind of tired that sleep doesn’t seem to erase. Of course, much has happened since then. Two weeks is a long time in the situation we find ourselves. Some of the questions I posed at the end of this post have been answered. Some still hang in the air. Maybe I’ll write more soon. Or maybe I’ll keep floating in an exhausted, tense haze.}

 

Saturday Special

We were getting a little disconnected as a family. Maybe not just a little. Jane actually dissolved into tears of frustration recently when trying to explain why it bothered her so much that we hadn’t woken her up from the couch when we got home.

“Don’t we eat dinner together as a family anymore?”

We actually had done that just a couple of days earlier but without her. As a high-schooler with a boyfriend, she’s home less than she used to be. But in her defense, she was home that particular evening and I had fixed myself a salad without waking her or her sleeping brother. “Fend for yourself” was becoming the norm.

The next night, we played games late into the night with friends and didn’t arrive home until after midnight. Needless to say, our Saturday got a late start. I eventually marveled that even the dog hadn’t stirred by 10:30 and went to rouse my clan as my husband set out to prepare a brunch feast.

When I woke Daryl and said, “Come on, Daryl! It’s lunchtime!” he asked how it could possibly be lunchtime. “What about breakfast?”

“Dude,” I said, “it’s 10:40. We slept through breakfast!”

We had a bumpy start through meal prep and consumption. Jane wanted to spend time with Hal but Hal didn’t want to share his drawing pad or his colored pencils. Daryl had woken in a sour mood and didn’t like having to hand wash some dishes, although he chose that task over making waffles.

After lunch though, all three kids sat down with their respective pads of paper at the dining room table and used Jane’s gel pens to draw or color. Jane asked if I wanted to join them but I declined. “I have too much I need to do,” I said.

But when I reached my room with the laundry hamper, I spied my grown-up coloring book. Sensing something special was happening, I grabbed it and joined the kids. Jane was playing music on a bluetooth speaker and everyone colored quietly and talked and laughed and complimented each other’s art.

Eventually, Daddy joined us at the table as he sorted the mail. Knowing that I really did have work to do, I put my book aside and began sorting papers as well. When Daryl tired of coloring, he started going through books on his shelves that he didn’t want anymore. He’d bring them to the table and we’d all make decisions on them together.

“We aren’t getting rid of any books! Mrs. Smith says you can’t have too many books,” Hal stated confidently.

“Mrs. Smith has never been to our house.”

It was wonderful. “We should do this on Saturdays more often,” Jane said. I agreed.

Later in the afternoon, she and her Dad left to take care of some shopping. I asked Hal if he wanted to go for a walk. He was very behind on his miles for a Kids’ Marathon the boys are participating in and the treadmill gets boring.

Soon, the two of us were walking the 3.2 mile loop that my husband and I run when we want a “short” run. Hal likes to talk and prattled away as we walked. He pointed out slyly that he was still in his pajamas. I suggested that maybe long flannel pants weren’t the best choice for walking on a warm Spring day.

We talked about the dogs we saw, the trash along the way, the sky, the trees, the grass, people’s yards, the cars going by, the bear he thought he might have seen in the woods.

“There aren’t bears here,” I said.

“Well, I saw something move in there!”

“I’m sure there was something there but it wasn’t a bear.”

“Maybe a squirrel,” he said.

“Or a cat.”

“A cat?! What would a cat be doing in the woods?”

I shrugged. “Exploring. Hunting mice. Or birds.”

“Do cats eat birds?” he asked.

“Yes. Or at least, they like to kill birds.”

The walk was long but there was a nice breeze and clouds blocked the sun most of the way. We passed by some pigs in pens. There was too much in the way for us to see them but we could sure smell them! Hal decided he was glad he didn’t live near them.

We talked about a car that was covered with a tarp but also under a carport. We discussed various reasons the car owner might do that. We peeked at a pond in the distance and discussed the “private property” sign on the fence and what it meant. We studied the trees that had grown up under the power lines and had their tops cut off. We remarked on all the ant mounds and how large some of them were.

“Why did God invent ants anyway?” he asked.

“Well,” I said. “They are very good at breaking up the soil so plants can grow.”

“We don’t need ants to do that! We can do that ourselves,” he said.

I pointed out a large field of tall grass at one point. The wind was blowing the grass in big lazy waves. “It looks like a big grass sea!” he said with delight.

We passed by a house that had some dilapidated out buildings. “Do chickens live in there?” he asked.

“It looks like chickens may have lived in there before,” I said. “But it looks too rundown now. I don’t think it’s in use.”

“Look!” he said as we passed by the end of the building. “That part is really falling apart! It looks like it got hit by a tornado or maybe a hurricane or something!”

“I think it’s just the passage of time. They didn’t make repairs over time and now it’s falling apart. Look over there,” I said, pointing to an even more unstable structure behind it. “That one’s really old.”

“I bet a tornado came through a really long time ago. Like in the old days. Back in 1977.”

“Hey!” I said. “I was three years old in 1977! Those aren’t the old days!”

He looked shocked. “Wow! You were three in 1977! Hey, Hannah told me the other day that her favorite number is three and that’s how old you were way back in 1937!”

Seventy seven!”

That started a game of “back in the old days, forward in the futurative days.” Hal would pretend he was an old man and say things like “back in the old days when I was three, we had a nice building for the chickens but back in… oops, I mean, forward in the futurative days when I was 52, it was worn down.”

He went through various topics. Like when a DVD just made sound, not pictures. I told him DVDs didn’t exist “in the old days.”

“Well, back in the old days, we just had a radio to listen to but forward in the futurative days, we have television.”

And so on and so on until he ran out of “old days” differences. That’s when he enlisted my help. I’d say the old days line and then he’d give the future one, sometimes restating my old days with his own twist, sometimes keeping it straight.

We compared phones on the wall to iPhones and film cameras to digital. He tried to claim that old days didn’t have cool sports cars like Camaros. I told him they had actually been very popular in the Seventies.

As we walked past a stranger mowing his yard with an obviously old push mower, Hal said, “Back in the old days, we just had a rundown old mower, but forward in the futurative days, we have a nice shiny one.” He pointed to the man. “I got that one from our friend there with the mower.”

I don’t spend a lot of one-on-one time with Hal. I’ve recently started working with him on his cello lessons, sitting and watching and paying full attention to him and his efforts rather than multi-tasking. But when I surprised him by showing up with Daddy at his Spring party the day before, he glanced up at me, showed no interest at all and rushed over to his dad to tell him what he had made. That stung. It stung a lot.

But then I got to spend 45 minutes walking with this wonderful little man we are raising. This quirky, oddball, inquisitive little man. And I was happy.

I honestly can’t say whether I enjoyed the family coloring party or the walk with Hal more. I just feel incredibly fortunate that I got to experience both. I didn’t get the big paper reduction project done that day, and quite frankly, I’m not sure how we’ll stay on schedule with our tidying plans, but I don’t care either.

This was special. And as Jane said, I want it to happen again.

Electronics Free Time

My husband decided we should institute an electronics free time in our household. He and I discussed it for a bit before deciding to “go live” Sunday evening. Sun-Thurs, regardless of whether school is in session, everyone will put away electronics from 5pm until 8pm.

This includes phones, iPods, tablets, the PS-4, computer games – all of them. Kindles are allowed for reading. And while the devices are all sitting in a designated public-access spot, we can check them for text messages or answer the phone if it rings.

So Sunday evening rolled around and my husband told the boys to put their electronics away. Daryl soon picked up his old iPod and said he wanted to do experiments with it outside. I was leery until I verified that it wouldn’t power on.

He and Hal were soon outside using the silvery back of the iPod to reflect the sun onto the sidewalk. When they noticed that they could almost see the Apple logo on the concrete, they ran back in for a sheet of paper to see if they could get a clearer reflection.

Sometime later, Hal came in looking for a rag. A glance outside showed that they had raided my husband’s pottery shard pile and were cracking pottery with a rock, washing desired pieces in a cup of water, drying it with the rag, and arranging them on a board for a mosaic.

Several times, I contemplated calling them in to put away laundry or help me make decisions on their overabundance of T-shirts. Every time, though, I looked outside at the two of them. Working together. Not fighting – at all. And unplugged.

And every time, I decided the clothes could wait.

When I came home from work last night, they had found a magnifying glass and were seeing if they could start a piece of paper on fire in the driveway. Hal created a new hind end for himself out of a shoe box. They played with the Nerf dart guns.

Both nights, they came easily to the table when called in for dinner. And no one has whined about wanting to be on their electronics. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s like nirvana or something.

We’ll see how well it lasts. And both nights, Jane has been gone so the jury’s still out on how that is going to work. And last night wasn’t without a dispute or two. But all in all, this is exactly what we were hoping to see happen.

As I told my husband, I’m more than happy to give up Two Dots for this.