This Motherlode is from nearly 3 years ago, but we were talking about it yesterday and it made me nostalgic. So, rerun.
“We really need to eat at the table more often,” I told the boys as we sat down on Sunday evening, together, finally.
“You made us do that every night when we were little,” replied Ari, 17, as if I’d been meting out punishment.
“Yeah, but back then, it was so rushed and crazy. Remember we’d get in at 6, and start running around?”
“Hey, Ari, remember First Base?” asked Christopher, 20.
When Ari was in grade one and Christopher was in grade four, they’d started going to the afterschool program because I was working later. Thousands of working parents do it every day, but the momguilt (yes, that’s one word; I’d trademark it if I could) was overwhelming for me. As a child, I’d walked home from the very same school to the very same house every day. I’d always worked, but the divorce meant a different, less flexible job, and I was now working outside of the house. The kids bore the brunt of the change, as kids always do.
Though day to day the boys were locked in eternal combat with each other, when I wasn’t there Christopher was an excellent big brother. Ari hated being bossed around, but when trouble hit (usually trouble Ari instigated) he had no qualms about letting his brother step in to save him. I’m sure there were more than a few kids waiting for Ari’s big – and bigger – brother to graduate from whatever school they shared so some scores could be settled.
Sitting down to dinner – such as it was – was a chance to regroup each night and dissect the day. We’d stumble into the front hall, a jumble of backpacks and boots and art projects, and I’d stare at the kitchen and wonder what would take half an hour to make. They were typical kids: one would eat cooked veggies; one would eat raw; one would eat fruit; one would eat salad. If I changed things up and served fish or pork, they’d ask why the chicken tasted funny.
Now it’s their work schedules that make us compete for table time. They’ll eat almost anything, they still laugh until milk comes out their noses, and as I found out on Sunday, they’ll finally tell me stories long held back.
“Of course he remembers First Base,” I told Christopher. “You both made me feel I was made of evil for making you go.”
“No, you don’t know what really happened,” he said. I looked at Ari, who grinned.
“The first day we were supposed to go to First Base, Christer told me in the hall not to forget,” started Ari. “He said ‘remember to go to First Base’.”
“Well, that was good of him,” I replied. Christopher is not my remembering kid. Ari is. This was a mild surprise.
“No, Mom, listen,” continued Christopher. “I got to First Base, and he wasn’t there. They were doing attendance, and they asked where he was. I said I didn’t know, and then all of a sudden I did. I went out into the school yard, and there he was.”
“So, he went out like the year before, waiting for me to meet him,” I concluded.
“No. He was sitting on first base. On the baseball diamond.”
My baby waited 20 minutes until his big brother came to get him. They’ve both remembered this for 11 years, and I heard it for the first time 11 years later. And all this time I thought I’d been protecting them.