Thursday, August 9, 2007

When the Duty is Done

Sometimes I wonder whether I'm just living right. Some days the road rises up to meet me and the wind is at my back. Some days begin wrong, but end right. Today is one of those days.

The day started poorly with another morning tussle with Ella. She has, at the same time, the most volatile and the sweetest temper of any child I have ever known. I feel like I have tried everything that a person in this fallen world can do to get over her morning mood. The thing that works best is simply sending her to her room. For the sake of her future, I need to make sure she always has a good selection of library books near her bed. She storms upstairs after an insignificant something has sent her into a fury, and flies into her bed. After a few moments, she leans over to the library box and picks out a book. Years from now I'm sure she will talk about these days as being the time she learned to love reading...that is, if I keep good books near her bed.

Today started getting better when my mother picked up Margaret to take her to Greenville for a weekend visit with her cousins. Then Mark's mom arrived with plans to take the boys for the weekend too. It's like all of the stars aligned and said: Sweetheart, we think you need a break.

Since the children departed, Ella has been angelic. We ate hamburgers and played cards. Rose and Ella began making plans for a slumber party since Margaret won't be in her room tonight.

Then we picked up Pollyanna and read a few chapters. Sometimes it feels good to cry during a good book, especially one that is designed to make a sentimental mother like me cry. The difficulty I had tonight is that the girls were in a particularly good mood. These girls, my bright and beautiful girls, could not stop laughing at the some of the most sentimental parts. Aunt Polly greets Pollyanna with a hand "of cold duty". They were practically rolling on the floor during a chapter entitled "A Question of Duty" where Aunt Polly talks about doing her "duty" all over the chapter, and Pollyanna cries out how glad she will be when her "duty is done!"

They were in stitches, and of course it's hard to pretend not to know what they're laughing about, since I was the person who probably made the joke first. Ella reminded me of this. She recalled to me, when we were reading a book about Ernest Shackleton and the voyage of the Endurance (almost two years ago). I read, "Each sailor had his own duty," at which point (I am told) I leaned over to Max and said, "Max, you do your dooty in your pants."

If I were a quick-thinking homeschooling mom, I would have turned this into an educational moment about homophones. But instead I have to pray, Good Lord, save me from children with good memories!