I left the store full of people when my shift was over today and it was a good feeling. Friends eating lunch with a dog at their feet; elderly women picking through the tomatoes; a little girl excited about our new shampoos; a local couple bringing out-of-town friends by for a sandwich and coffee.
It remains to be seen whether or not a mom-and-pop grocery like mine can make it in this town. But I am so very proud of it, and on Saturdays at least, hopeful.
The weather has changed, which means I have a new interest in the house and garden, everyone's more cheerful, and the children and I played outside today. We cleaned the little kid pool and dragged it to a new spot and filled it with clear water and the kids splashed and hollered and ended up both stark nekkid on my lap, wrapped in dry towels, listening to a long and pointless story about a little girl named Annaliese and a little boy named Caspian who lived in a blue room in a blue house because their mommy liked blue.
It was nice, scritching my babies' backs, being outside.
They are both very funny and dear lately, each in their own way. Tonight after I put them to bed the Baby Frat party began (they play; they both talk, read books, sing, and are generally raucous until I come and lay down the law). Annaliese called that she needed toilet paper, and when I came to check on her, she was SO proud of herself for pooping in the little kiddie potty we keep in her room (mostly as a step stool).
I had a tiny flash of annoyance. We'd asked her a few times if she needed to go before bedtime. The kiddie potty is basically a glorified plastic bucket, meaning I have to clean it. But she was looking up at me, beaming, and so I clapped my hands and praised her, retrieved the customary reward of 2 swedish fish, made a big fuss that she lapped up. I don't know why she was so excited, she's pretty much potty-trained these days, but tonight she was super-ready to hear what a Big Girl she is.
I remember that shortly after Annaliese turned one, parenting her became less of an endurance contest and more FUN. So has been the case with Caspian. We are enjoying the heck out of him right now; the lurching jointless walk, the bubble diaper butt, the chubby round cheeks, the way he claps with glee and talks endless streams of nonsense and when you ask for a kiss, he leans in softly with his wet perfect mouth open, proud of himself for accomplishing the wettest most delicious baby kisses ever.
He is using a spoon, a fork, a cup (messily, but hey!). He's walking. He's reading himself books in his crib and climbing on chairs and playing peekaboo with chubby starfish hands.
(Of course, he's also developing a toddler temper, and skirmishing with Annaliese over toys, and climbing onto the kitchen table and shredding my zinnias.)
Couple the deliciousness of Caspian with the joy that is two-and-a-half -year-old Annaliese, a little curly-haired girl who LOVES her dance class and stories about a giant butterfly and "Inkie Gadget" cartoons, and I am more and more sure that the light-hearted decision K and I made to have a family was absolutely the right one.
(It is NUTS though that the two of us are responsible for childhoods; that someday Annaliese and Caspian will sit around a table with their friends and say, "well, my parents, you know...")
K and I have closed our eyes to the expense of date nights and are going to the movies tomorrow night. The way this works is I ask Miss Margaret, who works at the childrens' nursery school, and she invariably says yes because we pay well and she's poor and she seems to like the kids a lot, and then I tell K that by the way, we're going out this Friday. And instead of worrying about the money he just says, "oh, great, what are we going to do?"
It's very mellow. I think we're going to see the Expendables. Those two facts are surely related.
The store is my pride and joy and my Achilles heel and my worry. However, I am indisputably learning a LOT-- it is life-changing to have the perspective of a business owner as opposed to a consumer. It is, as my mother says, good for me.
"Shut your hie-pole!" (K says piehole, so she picked this charming habit up from him, but with her own twist.)
"I'm gonna dance with Wisa. to-MORROW yessserday." (Annaliese begins dance classes downtown with 10 other small little girls in leotards and tights this afternoon. Wisa is Louisa, a four-yr-old who holds infinite glamor for all local friends. Her concept of time is fluid)
"Daddy has brown eyes, and Ca-pian has brown eyes, and Easter Bunny has brown eyes."
"I'm three!" I say she's two. "I'm two! Ca-pian one! Mommy three?" No, child. I am certainly not three.
Oh, yeah. Yesterday K and I picked up the kids from nursery school together, and being in a light-hearted mood, tried to think of something different to do that wasn't playing on the porch in the wading pool, involving food, or super time-consuming.
We pass the town's playground area every day, and often, Annaliese asks if we can go to the slide. Lately it's been 100-plus degrees, the slide is in the sun, and the answer is no.
Yesterday it was overcast.
So we stopped! And the kids played. About five minutes after we got there, it began raining, but it felt good and we stayed. We climbed and swung and twirled and slid and the kids got wet and dirty and it was one of those moments where we felt like good parents.
Then we went home and watched Nemo and K made the kids green waffles for dinner.
Alright y'all. I don't mind summer in Mississippi; it's like winter up north, you just stay inside.
But two months of this and no sign of relent-- the hottest summer on record here-- is enough and I announce, Universe, that I am Officially Done and please send a week of gentle foggy rain to be followed by some crisp blue-skied fall.