Monday, January 28, 2008

A weekend away from the kids

Rachelle and I just spent a weekend away from the kids—physically. Measuring proximity by our words and thoughts, we may have been closer than ever to them.

Parents may recognize the phenomenon. We spend our lives loving and serving our children, while coveting time to pull away and have Adult Conversation. We circle that special evening or weekend on the calendar months in advance, adding little hearts around the date, meaning you know what. The mere mention of the date steams up the windows.

We count down the days to it. We pack up their stuff and our stuff. The day arrives—finally—and we deliver our lovely little attention guzzlers to the saints generous enough to be watching them for us. We hug them goodbye, thank the hallowed caregivers profusely. The holy moment has arrived. The heavens open and our beatific countenances shine in the light of glory, as strains of the Hallelujah Chorus throb somewhere in our souls. We throw our proverbial mortarboards into the sky, give each other invisible high fives and sigh, “Freedom.”

In the car, we debrief the farewell. “That was soooo cute how Melía told us, ‘Go bye-bye. Huwwy up!’” “Yeah, I’m so glad they enjoy being with their grandparents.” “Every time, the first thing the little ‘I-refuse-to-wear-pants’ princesses want to do is play with the snails. I love it.” “I hope they’re good.” “Did you pack the Pull-ups?” “Yeah, does your mom know about the potty-training deal?”

Adult Conversation has officially begun.

Clearly, it’s not that we’re sounding the depths of themes relevant to ordinary adults; it’s just that we are unhindered by whining petitions for food, drink, volume changes or criminal justice. We have to lower our voices in the absence of VeggieTales’ competition for audibility. The minivan is a vast, hollow cavern in which our voices echo.

Dinner is amazing. Over Chinese food we discuss pros and cons of the various kindergarten options, of whether or not the twins will be ready to start the same year. We review pictures of black-eyed Brielle reading her X-rays, and laugh, now that it is all over. We talk like them, salting our dialog with favorite phrases from Melían English such as, “I mownt dat.” “Dat lours?” “You dot dum in lour purse?” We substitute phrases, now archaic, that bring back the days of Old Briellian and Ashlynian English, when “Dee-doo” meant “Thank you” and “Lou’re weh-pum” was its polite reply.

We run on the beach the next day, and talk about the touchably-close Santa Catalina Island just over the glassy swells on our left, and the mountains draped in snow all the way down to their ankles on our right, how incredible it is to thread our way between them in shorts, here in midwinter. We stop along the way and kiss like teenagers.

Running again, we only hear our breathing for a few minutes. We are alone, together, with our thoughts, comfortable knowing we’re relishing the same picture in our minds’ eyes. And when Adult Conversation resumes, we are back in the place where the rivers of our love converge—our three beautiful girls.

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