A storm blew in only a day after the last of the snow melted on our front lawn. The back lawn, shaded by the house, was still a blanket of white when the first flakes of new snow landed on it. At first the storm was interesting, it blew lingering seed pods from our mimosa tree, blasting them upward with sudden gusts only to drop them spinning to the ground. The snow started falling and for half an hour it felt cozy, the quiet hush of falling snow while I was safe indoors. Then the ground was white and cold. The sky was gray and it began to feel like every day in January. I wrapped my arms around myself and promised I’d by a potted hyacinth the minute I saw one at the grocery store. I needed a reminder that spring does come.
While the snow fell outside, two sisters faced off after an argument over a video game. I’d spoken to each of them separately. Kiki lamented to me that she always got frustrated with Gleek, that every overture of kindness was rebuffed, every interaction ended in yelling. Kiki did not want this. She felt like a horrible person when she yelled at her sister, so she avoided contact. It was easier. Gleek lamented that Kiki did nice things for her, but that Gleek was mean in return. Gleek said there was a huge rift and it was impossible to bridge it. My suggestions about apologies were met with a declaration that Kiki would yell and Gleek didn’t want any more yelling. They both loved each other. They both wanted to be closer, happier together. Yet they stood far apart, each an armed fortress defending herself against the hurt she felt was inevitable. I pleaded with them to talk, to open up. They didn’t. They didn’t. And then, when I would not let them retreat in anger, suddenly they did.
“I don’t want you to go away to college.” Gleek said as she hugged her sister tight. “I won’t have anyone to look up to.” Tears fell, far from the first of the day, but these were the first that did not drip anger. Kiki hugged Gleek in return.
The snow fell outside as Link sat on the couch expressing feelings of loneliness. He used examples to explain what was going on with him. I listened and knew that my son needed our relationship to shift. He needed me to stop assuming that he would not be interested in my activities. I needed to start inviting him along and letting him choose whether to participate. We ventured together out into the snow on a shopping trip. Link likes coming shopping for groceries. He doesn’t even mind being along when I look at some clothes so long as we don’t linger in the girly stuff for very long. He told me about the game he was playing, giving details for every jump and button press. I do not play this game, nor understand half of what he was telling me, but I listened because it is important to him and I need to understand the things that matter to him so that I can understand him better. I need to be part of his things and he needs to be part of mine. He came home smiling and I knew I’d taken a step in the right direction to be better at relating to my son.
The snow had turned to tiny flakes when Patch’s friend came over. It was a visit planned days in advance including games and dinner. Much emotional weight was carried by this visit because Patch mourns that his friend does not live next door anymore. It brings home to Patch that life changes and he is powerless to stop it. I could not bring his friend back to live, but visits can be arranged. The games came first, of course. Then Patch began cooking. He has one dinner that he can make all by himself: cream of chicken soup over rice. He cooked the rice and the soup, then served it for his friend saying proudly “I made this all by myself with no help at all.” And he is right.
Darkness arrived and the snow still drifted down onto wet pavements and white lawns. The air had been warm enough to melt the snow from sidewalks and driveway. No shoveling required on this day, despite the constant fall of moisture from the sky. I looked out the window and sighed a bit for the spring which has not yet arrived. I was perhaps more tired than the day called for. Looking at my task list I had nothing that I could check off. The day’s progress was immeasurable by checklist. It was fraught with the potential to go very badly, but somehow we navigated storms of emotions into a place where we’ve learned and are stronger. This is good, but I’m ready for the snow to stop falling. I’m ready for the potted hyacinth–bought on my shopping trip with Link–to bloom. It will, and spring will come. All will be well.