Today’s story, like so many of mine, begins with a trip to Target, with three kids and a cart bigger and heavier than most European vehicles. My list was long and Big Sister made it even longer. The thing about living close to an older sister and a mom is a trip to the store should probably be kept on the DL or else requests for both heavy whipping cream and skim milk are made before the “but that doesn’t make any sense!!!” is received on the other end of the cell phone mostly used to communicate with these two women who live within walking distance.
There we chugga chuggad through the store as Rita reveled in the freedom of the broken buckle by standing and bouncing her cute, sort of little, but definitely inherited from her mother, bum in the air in the most dangerous way a shopping cart allows earning me parenting advice from strangers such as “your baby!!!!” and “she should be sitting down.” I opened a bag of Cheetos like my maiden name taught me, and she sat so long as she had one in each hand.
Before I even made it past the shoes, I received the “come to the pool within 10 minutes if you want to…” text from the sister whose milk and eggs remained in the grocery aisle as I caught a glimpse of my still sweating from the 35 seconds we were in the sweltering parking lot Italian made son, and made the fastest book-it to the check out line a small woman pushing three humans could. So maybe I was leaving my shopping ambition prematurely with only raisins and pull-ups to show for a venture for which it took 45 minutes to prepare. But, the sun was shining and school begins next week for so many children older than mine! To the pool! To the pool!
Six boys dressed in matching bathing suits, one of every size that Old Navy sells, jumped from her vehicle as if it were a clown car.
The lifeguards spotted the 6 of hers and 3 of mine from a distance of an otherwise childless pool. I’d like to ask them what they do to mentally prepare for our arrival. I imagine it’s a mix of prayer and “want to rock paper scissors to switch me?”
She placed an order for lunch: 6 grilled cheeses, 6 cheese sticks, 9 orders of French fries, 6 grilled chickens. She began the lunch with the sign of the cross and grace further proving the already obvious Catholic family identity as several bathing readers peace and quiet was ruined by the general behavior of so many eating boys and a Josie and a Rita.
The children inhaled and dispersed into the baby pool because life is much more fun spent with all brothers together even if the baby pool was outgrown years ago, and with so much man- power it can easily be turned into a wave pool without the hassle of a machine, and to the shock and horror of life guards of the age of 16.
One sweet little boy brought two awesome dinosaur rafts, a kick board, a pair of flippers, and two noodles, and he enjoyed playing with none of them.
Our kids, however, took these toys not belonging to them to their optimal playing power teetering on destruction making me wonder if the violence demonstrated was even more vivid in their imaginations. Styrofoam noodles slapped the water with force as if swords defending the motherland. The plastic green dinosaur made for floating charged the sea toward its yellow dragon nemesis not allowing its popped plastic deflating with every forceful tackle to distract from its mission of whatever boys imagine dinosaur rafts do. The owner of these toys watched in a terrified awe from the edge of the water hoping his turn, if he could ever regain ownership, would be as spectacular. I scrambled to his mother who sipped wine and ate a salad, wondering if I should stop them, but the view of such youthful masculine enthusiasm, and so much of it in one small area, mesmerized her as well. Josie joined in swimming by swiftly with flippers and her brother’s goggles as she giggled and endured their splashing, spitting water on whomever got her in the eyes. Rita looked over once in a while with a clap and a slobber smile, but the chance to eat their chips in peace suited her much more than the war of inflatable water monsters. My sister, un-phased and unimpressed for it’s a scene like so many others chatted with other moms about wishing summer could last a while longer and how she would miss the days with everyone home hunting stuffed animals or battling light sabers against Kings and power rangers vs. beasts of the Sahara. The faces of the other moms were a mix of confusion, wonder, and amazement at how anyone could want more moments like the one in which they witnessed.
The questions continued, as they always do from, “you surely must be done now at 6 and with all these boys!” to “what about your body? Hasn’t it taken such a toll?” To which she replied as she always does, “God’s done such a great job planning this already, I think I’ll let him keep on going so long as He promises to send an army of guardian angels, too.”
And hopefully their next door neighbors get a few extra angels, too, for life with them is extra crazy, but if I’m sure of anything at all today, its that those dinosaur rafts will never again be filled with so much purpose. Or anything, actually. They are filled with holes.