When the kids come home from school, they sit up at the counter and have a snack while I prep supper.
I make sure to have a snack all laid out before we leave to meet them at the bus stop, so they can go straight from boots-off to bar-stool. Everyday I imagine them racing in the door, climbing up at the counter and laughing together about the funny moments in their day, including Kachi and Pascal in their conversation.
The real post-school-apocalypse is more like they fight over who won on the way home (because everything is a race), complain, demand additional snacks, and share absolutely zero details of their day.
My kids are normal little humans who just busted their butts all day doing their best and need a little down time. After being around people, Vava always craves solitude. Like her mama, she is a frustrating mash of introvert and extrovert. Sam doesn't have much to say about his friends or class until the last ten minutes of his day, when we're snuggled in his bunk, whispering so we don't wake up Pascal. That's so fine. My kids are fine.
But my expectations are in serious need of adjustment.
You'd think I'd have adjusted them already. This isn't the first week of school. But here I go, day after day, planning on a smooth and blissful afternoon reunion that happens so rarely-
Actually, it happened today.
Today Sam climbed up on his stool (after complaining about it not being his favourite one), and picked up a paper-doll that Vava had made and left on the counter.
"Vava, did you make this?" he asked, waving it at her over Kachi's head. She nodded, her mouth full of popcorn. "Vivian is so good at drawing and art," he told me, "I love all the things she makes." And two stools over, two blue eyes were wide and two cheeks were flushed with joy. Then she responded in kind.
"I love all the things Sam makes with Lego and on Minecraft," she told me, "he's really good at building."
And I was standing by the sink, eyes flooding with tears because this was magic.
But it is definitely rare.
I don't know if we'll keep on doing counter-snack after school. They need to eat and I love seeing all their faces together after hours apart. But whether we keep that up or find a different way to welcome them home, I know that expecting those golden moments every day is silly. I need to plan for the reality that my kids are tired and hungry and will likely be rude to each other, forget their manners, and need some alone time. Not that I shouldn't correct misbehaviours when I see them, but if my seeing them also includes disappointment of my absurd expectations, that's a lot harder for all four of them to bear.
And I get that way about the 25th. I have so many happy golden memories from Christmas day that I start to expect the day to unfold in a feel-good montage of flawless ease. (HA! It's like I forget I'm a parent!)
On her birthday, Vava lost her temper in the hugest way over a small incident. On her way upstairs for a serious timeout, she let slip the reason why: "everything is supposed to be perfect on your birthday!" And her outrage over the difference between her expectation and the reality made for a cranky and frustrating afternoon. I sat down on her bed and assured her that her birthday is not a perfect day. It's special because we're celebrating, there will be presents, and special company, but it's still a normal day where things might go wrong and we'll probably feel bored or sad or angry at some point and that's okay too.
And as Christmas approaches, God keeps using my kids to remind me of that, reminding me to adjust my expectations, to plan for reality. Special days are also ordinary days.
Even Christmas days.
Merry (mostly) Christmas, friends!