Tuesday evenings are rough. We pick up my eldest from school and have an hour to kill before choir practice. No reason to go home and come back, so I pack snacks for the girls and we run a few errands. They would prefer not to unbuckle from their car seats, struggle into warm jackets and walk across the rainy parking lot into the store. Once in the store, they quickly grow weary of my single-mindedness and my monosyllabic vocabulary, "No." But, but, they only want this candy, that book, this pen that lights up and has a magnet on the end...
The snacks are never quite what they would have liked. Not enough salt, not enough sugar. I brought water instead of juice or soda pop or chocolate milk. Why don't I ever let them eat treats? Finally, it is time to head to choir practice. Lola frantically searches her bag for the quiet toys she has brought to occupy her for the next hour and a half. Did she remember crayons? Is there a red one in case she needs it? Black? Oh, no, what if there isn't a brown one? Will I color with her? Do we have to take the dog for a walk? Why can't we just drop Eve off and go home and then come back to get her later?
"NO!" Eve shouts. "I don't like it when you go. I want to know you're there, Mommy."
I drive, my breathing falling into cadence with the wiper blades, letting their protestations bounce off of me like raindrops on the windshield. I wipe them away without responding. I recognize this for what it is. Eve is exhausted from the stimulation of a full day of school and knows she won't have time to regroup before jumping into another group of kids. Lola is weary of the day and wishes she could go home and play with her sister quietly. She has been waiting all day to get out the Polly Pockets and make up a game with her big sister. I worry about entertaining Lola and wish she didn't have to get schlepped around to other people's activities and appointments so often.
We arrive and Eve bounces out of her carseat, radiant smile for her instructor blooming across her cheeks. Lola gathers her bag of toys and we head inside. Eve settles into her seat directly in front of the teacher's podium, spine straight, lungs clear and inflated. Lola and I sit in the back, set up a makeshift table to color on, and find the crayons we need. All at once, the voices of the children, harmonious and perfect, ring out in the room, filling it with light and sound. We abandon our coloring, mesmerized. Bumps chase each other up my arms as the song penetrates my skin. We will listen to this majestic children's choir, singing, laughing and finding joy for the next 90 minutes. How lucky are we?