Lucy with Jan’s kids
Lucy has Jan’s kids for the afternoon. She babysits most Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, Jan’s late days. Jan pays her well, but honestly at this point Luce would do it for free.
It’s one of those early Spring charmers. It has been two weeks since time sprang forward and most people (not Jan, of course) are still reveling in the extra light. Lucy gets the kids off the schoolbus and gives them a quick snack, Luna bars, strawberries, toast. The kids pull on shorts, a novelty for April, and everyone wants to go to the lake.
They walk. The lake is surrounded by woods and hills. You can’t see the whole thing from the beach.
“This is where I met your mom, you know,” Jan says dropping towels and a bag of extra clothes (Taylor’s idea) on the sand, “running these trails.”
Taylor, the 9-year-old, chews her lip and says, “Tell me the truth. Does mom run here to get away from us?”
The 5- and 7-year olds, Henry and Oslo, are already knee deep in water, well on their way to their first change of clothes.
“Guys, it’s not really warm enough for swimming!” Lucy calls down to the boys. She is ignored.
“Forget it,” says Taylor. “Those boys don’t feel cold. You know how Henry hasn’t worn a jacket all winter.”
Lucy sits in the sand and looks at Taylor. “I think Jan runs here mostly because she thinks it makes her a better parent. When you get a little older you’ll probably understand this. I’m just starting to understand it myself. She needs a little alone time. That's all. She runs to collect her head.”
“I know what you’re saying,” says Taylor. “I get that, actually.”
And then Taylor is down, knee deep in the water, just as wet as her brothers, yelling and laughing herself breathless. Lucy wonders if she was that together at 9, if she could straddle both worlds, adult and little kid, with the same grace that Taylor manages. She doubts it.
Lucy is not a big fan of kids, but in the past few months she has grown to love these three. They’re different, she suspects. Or maybe they’re not. Maybe all kids are impossible and delightful all at the same time. You just have to get to know them.
Come to think of it, Lucy only sees real life kids in their worst places: restaurants, the Laundromat and the Food Coop. Food and laundry are firmly in the adult world. Kids cannot possibly understand the bone jarring necessity of food and laundry. Lucy hasn’t been long in that reality herself. No wonder the kids she sees are always so cranky.