We thought that after the garden tour, things would slow down. We were mistaken. So we've been trying to teach the children well, manage our small business, keep up with clients, orchestrate summer plans for the kids, and control/coordinate the process of setting up a new soccer team that Rick will be coaching.
Oh, the drama of coaching! Take 15-30 girls -- and their parents -- throw in one passionate coach, stir in the whole Tryouts process, shake with changing parameters daily, and WOW! You get a roller-coaster of a soccer team ride.
It's all good though. The beautiful game will win out over the demands and whackiness; it always does.
* * *
But we've been running like mad. So yesterday, with the littlest at preschool and the oldest at his guitar lesson, I finally had the chance to slow down with the middle three. (Another bonus of having a kid ride the bus? A 45 minute guitar lesson becomes a 2-4 hour adventure away from the house. Independence for him and fewer people to corral for me: win-win!)
We read from Beyond the Western Sea for awhile, until the blue sky's beckoning became impossible to ignore. We loaded up the car with snacks, skateboards, helmets, a viking hat, and a new kite, and off we went to the park.
So it was that I found myself on a beautiful Spring day, sitting in the sun with my six year old on my lap, my eight year old pressed against my side, and my ten year old just beyond, gazing up into the sky, watching a blue and green kite with a dark red tail dance and swirl on a cloudless stage.
We ate grapes and let the kite mesmerize us. We sat, and chatted a little, and stopped the frenzied motion of our lives for a few minutes.
After awhile the girls popped up and ran to swing and play in the sand. My son and I sat together, contemplating the kite, and marveling at how high it was and how strong the pull of the wind.
"It's sort of a little scary," he said thoughtfully.
"You mean that powerful pull?" I said.
"Yeah." He was curious about why this force had a little bit of fear in it.
"Yeah, that's weird, isn't? I think it's because it's so powerful. Power can be scary sometimes."
Holding onto that string did make one aware of the subtle current of fear running through one's hands while holding onto the powerful force of the wind. It made me think about other kinds of power that can be scary, and reminded me of the book we'd been reading that morning, in which the Irish characters are at the mercy of the English people who wield power and control over them, usually abusively. There is some kind of connection there, I'm sure.
I refrained from pointing this out to my son, pretty sure it would just annoy him with its obvious homeschooly-ness, but I started thinking about how to bring it back around at some later date. I contented myself with being grateful that he recognized that power and described it to me.
* * *
From the far side of the park, a thin man in dirty brown pants and a dirty white t-shirt came, pushing a bicycle over the grass, his handlebars wearing a sign proclaiming Free Leonard.
"Where'd you get that kite? I'm gonna get me one of those and put FREE LEONARD on it! You gotta tell me where you got that kite!"
I smiled and shrugged at him, because I really didn't know where we got it. I am forever finding things in my house with no idea how they got there. I found the kite that morning, having never laid eyes on it before.
"What? You don't want to tell me? I want to get one and put FREE LEONARD on it! Man, you gotta tell me so we can FREE LEONARD!"
I smiled again: "I don't know where I got it." My son said, "Yeah, we just found it."
"You found it? That's cool. I gotta find me one, so I can put FREE LEONARD on it! Yeah, that's what I'm gonna do!"
And off he went, slightly nutty, but certainly enthusiastic about his cause. My son turned to me, raised his eyebrows and said: "He really wants to free Leonard."
"Yes, he really does," I said.
The kite dipped and sailed, high in the sky, looking like a small green patch of light.
"Can you take the kite, mom?" And off he went to join his sisters. I stayed in the grass, alternately watching the kite and turning to watch my children pulling themselves up play structures, pumping their legs hard to swing high, and chasing each other through the sand.
I held onto the kite string and decided it was really time to do a little research into Leonard Peltier's story, since we see those signs everywhere and the kids have been asking about them for years. I'm guessing that particular lesson might have something to do with power as well.
* * *
Something else is powerful too: taking a break from life's mayhem and madness, sitting in the park with strong and curious children, and watching the world go by.
* * *