We came close to lying to Aviva about why she wouldn’t be skiing at Cochran’s today. We almost told her it was closed, just to avoid tears or fuss or disappointment. But in the end, we decided not to lie to her. We told her the truth: Greg had to work all day yesterday, and we simply wanted to have some family time.

We have read a book called The Honest-to-Goodness Truth three times since Friday’s library trip. Aviva calls it “Honest-of-Goodness.” Yesterday she lied to me about having peed, then quickly came clean. I’ve also been interested in how intrigued she is by the variations of skin color in this book.

She took our offering of truth quite well. Then we packed up the leftover challah french toast, loaded sleds and snowshoes into the car, and drove over to Dorset Park, which we have been meaning to check out.

Sparkling snow, untouched. Rainbows in the sparkles. Blue sky. Bright sky. A father showing his little girls the milkweed pods in the field. A father falling backwards into powder, making angel wings with his daughters, then falling forwards, face first, sunglasses covered with snow. Laughter. A father and his daughters and a mother watching, moved, knowing how it could all be otherwise. Snowsuits, innocence; the March sun feeding our hungry faces. Later, hot chocolate, naps, enough books for a village of young readers.

Later still, while Greg whittled away at his email, Aviva, Pearl and I ate a blue-hair special (dinner at 5:00pm, same as last night – pesto pasta and broccoli, followed by Special K and bananas) and took a “girl bath” together.

I had promised them we’d go for a “night walk” before bed. By the time we came down after bath, I was tired and unenthused about suiting everyone back up. But hearing Pearl say, “Yay!” when Aviva told her we were going outside – along with Greg’s willingness to abandon his computer for a little more family time – helped me rally.

And so we found ourselves in the middle of the street a few houses up, hurling heaps of snow against the pavement, the four of us yelling under a cold, bright sky. I half-wondered what the neighbors must be thinking, and at the same time contemplated inviting them to join us.

“Someone’s gonna call the cops,” I joked, thinking of all the times we did just that when we lived downtown surrounded by (often drunk) college students. But no cops came. Instead, we formed one snowball after another, each to our own proportion.

Pearl carried her little ones right up close to me, saying “coat, coat,” (well, more like “tote, tote”) before tossing them at me, thigh-high, with all the strength her little arms could muster.

Aviva threw hers straight down and then stomped on them with her boot, yelling, “Hi-YA!”

Greg aimed for and hit the “Residents Only” sign dead-on as I marveled at the example we were setting for our kids.

And I… I finally got into it, especially when I realized that this was just the place to place my anger and aggression and my fury and my fierce protective, maternal instincts about recent developments I will not write about here. I lifted and smashed heavy chunks of snow and ice to the cold tar at my feet, letting out my own hoots and hollers.

This, I thought, is my meditation, a form of connecting with the breath. This, I thought, is what happens when you don’t have cable. This, I thought, is what happens when you have family. And this, I thought, is Honest-of-Goodness family time.

14 thoughts on “Honest-of-Goodness

  1. Jennifer/The Word Cellar says:

    Okay, I know this isn’t the most important point of this post, but I’ve been trying to make challah French toast for weeks. Mmmm… I keep buying the bread and then eating it before I make the toast! :) Oh, and kudos for telling the truth to Aviva. I just read an article in New York magazine about kids, parents, and lying: http://tinyurl.com/3xq5u7.


  2. Shelli says:

    I enjoyed reading this sooo much. Thanks for letting me step into your day a little bit.

    I particularly liked this: “…and a mother watching, moved, knowing how it could all be otherwise.”

    I often think of the choices I have made in my life, and I wonder (sometimes with longing/sometimes with gratefulness) where I might be, if I did one thing differently.


  3. bella says:

    oh, such days are bliss.
    To just let go and let what wants to be, come and find us.
    And you’ve inspired me with this honesty, truth telling to our kiddos.
    How often I lie to avoid his disappointment or anger. Interesting.
    Anyways, happy to get to see this window into your day.


  4. Lisa says:

    Hooray! Good for you!

    What fun :-)

    Great realizations! Congrats!

    I love reading *real* posts like this about truth and struggle and family. Getting it out is good.

    Last week I took my frustrations out on by beating the snow and ice off of ALL my bushes out front! It was amazingly cathartic!

    Also – I love being out in the snow at night. Ahhhh.

    Peace to you this day,


  5. Kristen says:

    How many times have I debated whether the truth was worth the punishment. The toy store is closed does seem to elicit so much less whining! Anything but the whining, I tell myself.

    Loved the blog and the NY times article, both were very helpful. I think I will be a bit more fortified next time.


  6. Jena Strong says:

    Marta – I love that!

    Karen – This frame works for me. I think I’ll wear it.

    Jennifer – French toast very well may have been the most important part of this post! Yes, challah soaks up the egg and is incredibly good – but eating it straight up is irresistible. Thanks for that link, too.

    Shelli – That “otherwise” feeling is so palpable sometimes. I also call it the “click of the dial” – like an old TV. Just one channel over and who knows?

    Meg – I’m always glad just knowing you were here.

    Bella & Kristen – Lying to avoid anger, disappointment, whining – it is so tempting, so much “easier” than dealing with reactions (or what we fear will be reactions). It is an interesting practice for me just to notice how many times a day I have that impulse…

    Lisa – Thanks for your asterisks and exclamations.

    Yours in woo-hooin’ –

    xo Jena


  7. Anonymous says:

    jena, one of my fave things to do with my family is go out in the snow, anytime of the day. yes, it’s me who ususally drags them groaning and moaning, and yet it’s them that i capture on film, laughing, canon-balling into the neighbor ditches filled with snow…all of them oblivious to what their missing back home, because it’s all right there…fun, freedom and family. i agree whole-heartedly, honest-of-goodness living in the moment.

    thank you for posting this…i feel your release in your words…



  8. Chloe says:

    Sounds like a wonderful moment. Your comment about honesty reminded me of how much I appreciated knowing that I could ask my father anything and get a completely honest answer, even to the uncomfortable questions. That has really stuck with me.


  9. RocketMom says:

    Just stumbled upon your expedition report a week later. Not sure where I was, but it sounds like you were in just the right place. Thank you for sharing.



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