The morning held a bright blue glow, filling the room with light coming in from all directions, the shades pulled high. The boy’s eyes heavy but his body nimble, the warmth of the sun tickling his skin, and excitement building in him. This was it, the morning they’d been waiting for for months, through growth in body and soul, through the trials of adolescence.
The first day of summer. He felt it, all of last night he felt it, the end had finally come. School had let out and there was the little party at the Murphy’s home, celebrating the kids but moreso celebrating the parents, they got the kids through another year, now they deserved a drink and some time together. To reminisce over the challenges of the year, the school plays and the carpools, the stomach aches and the calls at work, the trips to practice and away games, the laundry, all of it. On this night they shared those moments, gave their long forgotten memories form and then let them float away into the giant pool of parenting memories.
The warm floors pressed against the bottom of his feet, a lightness to it, a gentle skip from side to side, his siblings rumbling too, their collective pattering filling the air with a gentle hum that had become so common, a requirement to the morning, a signal to the world that the Landry’s were taking shape in it, occupying the space that belonged to them.
He went downstairs and scanned the living room from side to side, to the spots each member laid claim to with their possession, he saw the couch where his mom watched tv from, with it’s research papers next to the small table, folder after folder of studies from from this experiment and that. He saw couch he shared with his sisters, the pillows sunken and deformed, from the wrestling, from the propping up to get a better view. To separate their bodies from each other as they tried to stretch out during a movie. The underused coasters strewn across the table, the dark water stains along the wood grain, the old red patch from the christmas wine incident. He loved this room, it was a placed that filled and expanded with laughter dependent on the situation, it carried with it the memories of their years, every spot had collected a story, or a few that blended together into the warm glow of collected history. The story of his family was here. Not in the photos on the wall, not in the buddhist statues, the plants strewn about, but in the air, intangible but there. Smaller in space as they’ve grown but just as important, the spot for the christmas tree, the place where the exercise bike had lived that one summer.
He walked further, walked into the kitchen, into the den where decision and action met. Where his mom waited up for them every morning, no longer fighting them as they slowly worked themselves awake. This was her summer too, she’d found a way to get to work later in the day, and so in the mornings she waited up for them. The days news flowing to her old tablet she won at the work holiday party.
The ugly sweater contest that erupted when she came in with the set her daughter had sewn for her in home-ec class. The pasty purples and reds that she thought best reflected her mothers favorite colors, shaded and woven with intricatately crooked patterns, a technique her daughter had called double stitching. And the giant reinder patches she had acquired from god knows where. She couldn’t imagine that there was a stores that would sell patches like this. To what end, to torture parents with their childrens creations, to bring out that practiced but instinctual smile that all mothers had, that came in the mothering manual.
The way to make sense of your childs limited abilities in the mishmash of activities school forced upon them. “These are the gifts I’ve given my children, they’re using them to the best of their abilities and if the world wont be that kind to them for it at least can.” So she wore that god awful sweater to the office and smiled and told the story and watched the smile grow and spread to the other parents who recalld a story of their own. All the parents whose kids see their purpose in the world as returning their parents love with crayon drawings of mishapen geometry and cardboard glued tributes to art and science. The napkin holder from woodshop that stuck to and stained all the napkins. Placed in the center table for as long as the mother could stand to apologize for it. For as long as the other siblings could stand to remain civil in their derision of it, until it caused more fights than it was worth, and then the mothers touch to gently explain to the child why it would be better to store it and save it for summer picnics. Bring it out when they needed it in the benches, and put in a place where it can’t be seen by her guilt.
The kitchen full of these trinkets, placed in strategic places, spread out so that no one kid could take the grunt of their siblings ridicule at one time. Hung on fridge magnets, in cabinets, Christmas plates hidden at the bottom of the drawer.