I had a goal this weekend. I had a goal to clean off my porch which had accumulated so much stuff it was difficult to get from the front door to the back. I had a goal to clean out the shed. I had a goal to get rid of all my unused and unwanted stuff that was just taking up space. I was determined to reach that goal.
I knew I couldn't do it alone - it was a big job. I had to figure a way of getting help to do a tough, dirty, sweaty job that had to be done. The only help in sight was my son, his friend, and his friend's brother and sister that were hanging around playing.
I announced my plans. I promised some kind of reward, whether it be pizza or burgers & dogs....I stopped short of cash - teens are expensive these days. The four agreed to help. The 6th grade sister of the friend claimed she didn't need a reward, she liked cleaning. I liked this girl.
We dug in with vigor. I handed item after item and directed which pile it would go to: shed, trash or give away. Things moved fairly quickly. A half hour passed and there were was the discovery of a couple water guns beneath the boxes of Christmas decorations, clothes and books. The boys proceeded to do what boys will do while, I'll call her "J", and I continued to sort. "Boys can't pay attention for very long. They get bored so easy...Unless they are playing video games". This was one sharp little girl. Did I say I liked her?
I gave them a break for a bit and hung up some laundry. J parked herself on the grass and chatted with me while I did. The late summer heat forced sweat on my brow. The sounds of boys giving chase and laughter wafted on the slight breeze. It was a moment I paused and relished. I will not have many of these days left. I have not had enough of these days.
My son doesn't have a lot of friends. It seemed, that any time he made a friend in our neighborhood the Munster children next door got a hold of them and turned them away from my son. (I should interject that I live next door to the neighbors from hell - A Grandmother, Mother and 5 children living in a two bedroom, 14x72 mobile home. I have more horror stories than Steven King. Someday I will tell them to you). It was nice that he had re-connected with this particular boy. He is polite and softspoken, as are his brother and sister. I could tell from their interaction that they come from a family of love. Being told that they were going to host a family made homeless by Katrina only confirmed this.
Once the laundry was done, I put everyone back on task, the first of many times. Four hours later, we were done. The kids had a nice seating area where they could watch TV and play video games and I had a clean porch and shed.
I then moved indoors to empty the dishwasher and clean off some counters. I was followed by my ragged troop. They settled down to watch a movie while I kept working. I set to the counters, once the sink and dishwasher were empty. A generous spray of cleaner on the empty counter drew J like a moth to a flame. She stood in front of me with eager eyes. My hand held the sponge in midair. Our eyes met.....She was like a rabbit eyeing a carrot. "You want.." "Yes please!" She wasn't kidding when she said she liked to clean. I really like this girl. I wonder if she'd like to adopted.
Once everything was complete, we were still all hot and sweaty. What's the best thing on a hot summer day after working hard? Besides, an ice cold beer.
Second choice? ICE CREAM of course! A phone call home to get Mom's approval and we were off. I took them to a local place where the regular sized cones of homemade ice cream are so huge that a cup is mandatory with your cone. I swear a regular contains an entire pint of ice cream. I couldn't even finish a kiddy cone!
The five of us claimed a picnic table and indulged. Farts (not me of course!), giggles, general silliness and sloppy full faced ice cream bowl dives ensued. What? You think I was going to let them in my new car with drippy, melting ice cream??? As we enjoyed our cool summery goodness. I thanked them all for their tremendous efforts and saw each of them blush, when I said I couldn't have gotten it done without such a great team of hardworking kids.
Once home, they each went off with their bag of treasures: 4 models, a rabbit fur coat half eaten by the squirrels that got into the shed, a black dry erase board and markers, and an old SuperNintendo with games.
What makes the entire day extra special is that my son hadn't had any meds. Medication that helps him lead a normal life. Medication that allows him to think before he acts. Medication that I should have mailed away for sooner. I was waiting on a delayed mail order that would be delivered Monday. I was responsible for him not having any medication for that day. A point he voiced loud and often when I reprimanded him. I chose to save the one day of meds I had for Monday so he wouldn't have to miss school. There were trying moments where I had to reel my son in for his hyper, out of control behavior. There were moments where I had to shout at his cursing because he was showing off for others, trying to be the tough guy. I bit my tongue so hard it bled and I pulled patience up from the tips of my toes that I didn't even know was there. I overlooked a lot, including the fact that he took full advantage of the fact to behave badly. He knew it too, he didn't protest much when I said it was time for everyone to go home and the day was done.
I may have overlooked, but I did not forget. I would not let him forget either. I would deal with his transgressions Monday, when we were both better able to discuss them. Then we will move on.
It was a long, hard day with lots of bad, and good. The good is what I want to remember 5 years from now.