3 year old: Lines up ketchup, mayonnaise, and jars of Nutella along the rug, “These are people. They are standing in line at the grocery store.”
7 year old: Dances to Kung Fu Panda soundtrack on Spotify in his bedroom, leaping off ladders and defeating invisible enemies. Makes tragic sound effects for his large cadre of beanie babies as the fight goes on.
10 year old: Arranges her newly painted wooden peg people into groups, explains, “This is our family. This is Emma’s family. This is Daylin’s family. The dads and moms are talking together. The children are all playing.”
3 year old: Watching big brother play krill smackdown on National Geographic for Kids, tells him “Those are babies…where’s their mama?” He objects. They’re not babies. “Then where’s their mama? Maybe their mamas are dead.”
I interject, explaining that not everyone lives with their mama…that maybe they don’t live with their mamas anymore because they grew up and moved away. Taking this further, “I don’t live with my mother anymore. When you grow up, you’ll probably move away, too.” Her lower lip trembles. “You mean I won’t live with you anymore?” “Probably not when you’re older, no.” The realization seems to hit her like a smack across the face. She turns red and lets out a wail, “But I don’t want to live away from you!” She cries for awhile about this.
Outside with her brother she takes a shine to some little earthworms her brother plucked out of the the composting barrel. Her “wormies” she calls them. “They tickle!” she giggles. “I’m not scared of them anymore.”
7 year old: Runs into bathroom where I do our dishes (long story): “Mama, I have an idea. We could make a time capsule.” He spends the next hour gathering the contents. Later that afternoon he is digging a hole in the backyard. When he returns inside to attend a planned video chat with his friend, he announces, “Naomi and I found clay!” That evening after supper, he walks around dejected at being told he has to wait to bury the time capsule until more of us have a chance to add things.
10 year old: Stays in the house to write a letter to her childhood friend who moved to France six years ago. Ends up watching Youtube clips of Kung Fu Panda before joining her brother in the backyard. Comes back inside and she and her brother are soon chatting away on FB messenger with Daylin. From the other room, it almost sounds like old times, and I let myself pretend he is in the room playing with them.
3 year old: Mama, hold still. The moon is your head, (circles car around my head, obstructing my view of the laptop screen in front of me).
7 year old: Having filled a Danish Butter Cookies tin with random miscellaneous objects and handwritten explanatory notes and drawings, he writes his name and birth date on a sheet of blue paper. Wonders allowed what language the people will speak who find it, and if they will understand his English notes.
10 year old: In tears, “I miss my friends. I can talk to them on video chat, but I can’t touch them. It’s like there’s a wall between us.” Later in the afternoon, after technical difficulties with a browser that failed to support video chat on FB, she and her friend Emma connect. They visit for over an hour. Her happy voice from the next room is a delight.
3 year old: Begs her papa to throw her on the bed. Again! Belly laughs and jumps and jumps on the bed. Walks on the ceiling, held upside down. Makes herself Nutella sandwiches. Handle bar mustaches of hazelnut spread.
7 year old: Listens to Boxcar Children mystery with his sisters while building ramps. Does a puzzle of a Carolina Rustler. After lunch he plays dolls with his sisters for awhile. Goes over his math with his papa and makes corrections. Spends most of the afternoon listening to Henry and Ribsy while playing with the Venetian blinds, staring at the backyard, drawing, jumping on the bed, and asking, “Can I watch something?”
10 year old: Listens to Boxcar Children mystery while drinking hot chocolate on the sofa with her little brother. For lunch, she sautes Tilapia on the griddle in our makeshift kitchen and cooks rice in the Instant pot. Insists on plating and presenting the food to us. Spends much of the early afternoon playing dolls with her little sister. Goes over her math with her papa. Corrects errors. Goes back to storytelling with her collection of plastic horses and tiny dolls.
3-year-old From her little bed (which is in our bedroom), calls out, “Mama, I can’t take the darkness. It’s too scared.” I offer her the little nightlight tea light. “I don’t want the candle. I want lightness.” Yes. Me, too, honey.