Audrey had a picnic/ice cream social with her preschool at the park Tuesday night.
All the boys surprised me in that they all said they wanted to come along. The park we were going to has a waterpad, the type where water sprays out of statues shaped like dolphins, etc. I didn't think they'd want to go as it is a little babyish, but they changed into their swimsuits and were ready to go before I was done putting my shoes on. (I don't think I need to tell you how Audrey was so excited she put her bathing suit on the second the boys got home from school, and kept coming into my room to ask "Is it time to leave yet?") They wanted to spend time with her. And Nolan wasted no time reminding me that "this is the last time..."
Off we went.
When we got there, the kids started playing, they were having a fantastic time, and I was having fun watching them.
Until Nolan stood by one of the statues. My mind saw my tall thirteen year old getting ready to spray the hell out of his younger brother. My heart saw the little one-and-a-half year old I used to bring to this park all the time after work in hopes of tiring him out for the evening. I actually saw, in my mind's eye, a picture I'd taken of him and Mr W sitting by the "lake" throwing bread for the ducks.
Thank God I was holding the towels--you know, the spray, it can be irritating to your eyes.
The preschool teacher, Ms Lillie, came up to me and asked if it would be okay for her to gather all my brood and have someone take a picture of them together with her. "Of course," I said. Ms Lillie has been teacher to ALL of them, and I thought it was cute of her to want a photo. "You know, when I started teaching here, Nolan was tiny! I've been doing this for nine years now, and look at him!"
She had no idea I'd been trying not to look at him, as "hysterical woman by the water" is not how I wanted to be remembered.
We gathered them up and they posed. It was a nice shot, no bunny ears or crossed eyes. (I'm hoping she gives me a copy.)
Right before we left, I went to let her know we were on our way out. I gave her a hug, and as I turned to leave, I almost ran over Nolan. His siblings were in line right behind him. Good God, I thought, what now? Nolan pushed me aside, so he could get past me.
He grabbed Ms Lillie, dwarfing her (holy cow, he's grown) and hugged her. Then all the kids took turns hugging her. They did it entirely on their own--I didn't prompt them at all.
And I got all choked up again. It was one of those moments when you realize that maybe you are doing something right, that maybe, maybe, they really are good kids.
That went a long way towards erasing the memory I had of Audrey jumping off the couch, walking over to where Ben lay, and punching him in the nuts for no good reason the night before.