In elementary school, my husband was small. Short and skinny, but undaunted in the world of sports. Not big, but fast and scrappy. He didn’t much care how tall he wasn’t as long as he was on the field or the court or wherever the action was.
At 5’6″ he has never outgrown his love for sports. As a concession to family life, he has curbed his sports viewing from twenty plus hours a week to about four per week between September and January. Should I meet an early demise, this would be subject to change. For now, he’s taken it down to the bare bones necessities, aka, football.
It’s a game about men in tight pants pushing and shoving each other, I say.
He rolls his eyes.
Football is like his bike from high school. When he was in high school he traveled across Canada with a bike team. The aging bike he rode then is dusty and unused. I have pulled it out for selling or giving many times but he is immovable. It is an amazing bike, he’s keeping it, and the fact he’s keeping it means it’s possible he’ll ride it again. But whether he ever touches it again, or whether or not I understand doesn’t change the fact that he’s keeping it.
The count down to New Years Day has been whispered with growing excitement for a week now. New Years: the first game of this year’s football season. (Football’s place in his heart is more entrenched than the bike.) All yesterday, I felt him practically twitching with excitement, knowing the season would start that night. We don’t have cable. Football hits our tv for Sunday games only. Thursday he catches the scores by radio or the internet. Excitement dimmith not.
There are things about the game I find sincerely irritating, maddening, troubling even. But it would be almost impossible to love this man, and not give in to the palpable joy on a Sunday afternoon after kick off. A loyal fan with some common sense (rare commodity), he loves the Cowboys, but advised the kids to choose a different team to love.
I’ve tried, he’ll say. I know they have “issues,” but I can’t help it. I was born in Dallas. They’re my team. They’ve always been my team. It’s like they’re in my blood. They’re my team.
So it’s true. At County Road 21, where we grow our own meat, make our own bread and yogurt, and try to keep things simple, we also watch highly paid men in bright, often striped, pants, push and shove, and chase each other around a field in an attempt to advance a brown leather ball in one direction or another. There are those who watch for hours and those who watch for minutes. The latter often bring snacks to the former.
Happy New Years everybody. And for my husband, upon whose temporal happiness it depends- Go Cowboys.
Boy one the beekeeper in the beeyard.
Some of the girls on their way out to work, or just back.
Filippa is crazy about lego . . .
Buster has grown a bit since March.
Against her wishes, Misty the pony/pig cross is slowly shrinking.
Other girls out for a walk. The foxes would prefer if they were available for daily picking but we limit the free meals and make them sporadic to keep flock numbers up.
Luckily, hers isn’t this big.
Girl one leaves a note with doodles on it lying around. It is summer. Still more than four months until her birthday. It says:
Dear Birthday Fairy,
I would really, REALLY like a sewing kit for my birthday.
Her Nana finds the note. Charmed, she buys a small sewing kit. Thread, scissors, measuring tape, tracing paper, thimble, a pin cushion, needles. The early unexpected gift is a hit. I gently discuss needles, their dangers, merits, and again, their dangers. I push the information through into the floating dreaminess of Girl one’s aura and hope for the best.
I find a needle on the floor, review danger speech, and offer warning.
I sit on a couch at night and find needle with my hand. I review speeches on danger and offer a stern warning. In the next 24 hours, I find more needles but it is sworn with impassioned oaths that these are a result of previous sins . . . which although not remembered or intentional were clearly committed prior to the stern warning.
Three days later, I have found more than ten needles. Entire kit is removed to my room for a time out.
Kit is returned. Speeches reinforced. Shortly thereafter more needles are found. Later, lying in her bed sobbing softly, she is the poster child for broken hearts.
I know others are partly to blame. And truthfully, the needle dispenser is a lousy design intended for vigilant adults with long bony fingers, not enthusiastic kids passing it around for a home grown sewing circle. I make adjustments on the dispenser and impose new rules about sharing.
The sewing kit lives in Girl one’s room, but the needle dispenser lives in mine. I think things are going better. Then I find a needle. An hour later, Girl one finds another one, then another. This time the tears are a torrent.
I’m not responsible enough to have a sewing kit, she whispers. Take it. I love it so much, but I am not a responsible person. I’m not old enough to have it. (Extreme weeping) I am just not a responsible person.
Although I had been thinking all of those things, I didn’t want to say them anymore. In a moment of insanity, I said I wasn’t taking her sewing kit away.
In the world, I said, there are people who love beautiful things and people who are very practical. Mostly they are not the same people. Without the practical people, we would be hungry. We wouldn’t remember where the food was or when to buy it. But without the people who show us the beauty in the world, we would be a different kind of hungry. Without the beautiful people, why even bother getting up for breakfast?
Girl one gave me a very grateful hug and told me that she was tired and needed to go to sleep now.
I hope the family does not soon resemble Swiss cheese. But if that’s the cost of art these days, I guess I’m in. As a nod to the practical people, the dispenser doesn’t get dispensed anymore. Just one needle to one child. At kitchen table only.
The children have taken to telling everyone that we had three vacations this summer. There never seems to be a way to explain my side of it. The first, “vacation,” was a weekend invitation to a friend’s cottage. We left earlier than planned in order to get to the hospital and brush up on appendicitis facts, but prior to that it was quite wonderful. The second, “vacation,” was a once in a lifetime week by a lake with family, an hour from home. Cousins, the chief excitement of my children’s world, were present. But my husband was still working. There were 14 people to feed. Our calf was sick part of the time. Trips had to be made home, vets called, and well . . . I loved seeing my family, I just couldn’t say it was restful. Which brings us to, “number three.” This was the real kind . . . with my husband, six hours AWAY from the farm and all its potential needs.
For the record, we did not have three vacations! If we had, I imagine I would be rested. Instead, I watch the clock longingly until school comes tomorrow to take the rest robbers away. People with three vacations are rich. We are not rich.
Except we are and I know better. Forget clothes and food, we go to school, drive cars, spend money on things that might not pan out, quit things because we don’t like them. My husband pays for a cook (me), maid (also me), chauffeur (me), and tutor (still me) for the children. Since I don’t worry about getting fired, I also spend quite a bit of time writing. Lots of people we know have more than we do, but it is a matter of degrees. From a global perspective, we live solidly on the rungs of the rich ladder.
Light broke through this weekend though. Girl two is about to be a first grader. That got me thinking about me in grade one. Six years old for me was a bad year. A lot of things went terribly wrong. Girl two, bouncing up and down happy, turns six today. The comparison has me profoundly to my bones, grateful. The brokenness I came from is not her inheritance. She doesn’t know a thing about it.
I am thinking about that. About being rich. So rich I can’t keep track of everything. I wake up to discover stocks grown wildly that I hadn’t checked in ages. Investments I’d forgotten I even had.
My husband is hoping to take the kids camping for a weekend soon. I’m thinking maybe they can stop telling people how many vacations we have and just say we’re so rich we basically live on vacation.
But seriously. Some days I can’t believe it. My kids are really happy people. For real. How rich is that?