At this hour, the kids would normally be inside the brick walls of a school, and I would be in my writing room trying to scrawl my way out. I am sitting on the front walk with markers, Scotch tape, and popsicle sticks, showing Diana how to make flags for the sunflower seedlings that Luke planted in the tree box as a consequence for burping on people.
The blue gluey light of the computer has driven us out into the citrus sunshine. I finally let the kids break into the box of popsicles I had bought in case someone got a fever. I feel like the good fairy.
As I cut triangles out of index cards and Diana draws sunflowers on them, I hear Luke on the porch doing his morning meeting through the laptop and I get to hear his teacher’s voice, and what happened to his friends over the weekend — a tree fell on someone’s house, a quarantine birthday was celebrated with a marzipan cake and 4 Lego sets from the grandparents, and someone got a new bandana mask with an American flag and a dog on it.
At lunchtime, we spread out an old tablecloth in front. The wind is cold; they take turns getting warm under the flaps of my jacket.
The boys let me hug them and kiss their hair, and I think about how little I know about their lives when they are in school, what alliances are formed, what schisms are cleaved. Luke, this 4th grader who once told me he was a judge at the lunch table Black Market, now eats his bagel and hums in my arms. And Mark, this 6th grader who feels more and more mysterious, cuddles in, rolling back and forth a Matchbox porta-potty truck called Poop King.
After lunch they sit on the antique wrought iron chairs under the weeping cherry tree and I listen to Luke asking Mark, “Do birds have noses?”
“Yeah, they’re little holes,” Mark says. “I wonder if birds have ears.”
“Walruses’ ears are dots,” says Luke.
“Voldemort doesn’t have a nose,” says Mark.
My favorite part of school is lunch and recess too.