Harmony at Home

New Year’s Day. If beginnings are any indication, 2014 is off to a good start with my girlies. We all slept in. I made eggs, bacon, and toast. Mani, Aviva, Pearl and I ate brunch around 11:30am.

After that, Pearlie got busy in her room. I had asked her to unpack her bag from her trip to Vermont last week. She took things a step further by creating a whole little town, with the easel her grandma gave her for Christmas all set up for the public to stop by to use (it’s free!), a public library under her loft bed, streetlights, and a replica of Bueno y Sano, the local taco place.

Meanwhile, Aviva filled up a garbage bag from her room with giveaways, then told me to wait a minute when she saw that I was dressed to run. She emerged from her bedroom in her own running clothes and laced up her sneakers, which are actually my sneakers but I’ve given her one of my two pairs since she misplaced hers and we now have the same shoe size. I told her I was thinking of doing about thirty minutes. “Each way?” she asked. I chuckled and told her no, round-trip. She seemed satisfied with this and we set out, respectively plugged into her new iPod shuffle and my 80s pop station on Pandora. After about half a mile, she wanted to take a break. After another few blocks, I told her we’d gone about a mile, and she seemed pretty happy with herself, and us.

We wound up ditching our headphones for conversation. And then, maybe a quarter mile from home, we sprinted in three segments back to the house. In short bursts, that girl has some speed. We talked about her doing track in a few years. Mostly, she just felt so grown up to me, and somehow something between us felt new and different and so special, exercising together. I told her that being out with her, spending time together this way, was reason number gazillion for quitting smoking.

Later, Pearl got a spontaneous invitation from her dad to go to a New Year’s Day ice-skating gathering at Puffer’s Pond. V and I sat on the bed with Mani, doled out our cash for the week for groceries and made a list, then set out for Stop & Shop, where I checked off the little boxes she’d drawn next to each item while she kept a running tally on the calculator on my phone. We came in under budget and had enough left to get a giant container of chocolate Häagen-Dazs.

In the car on the way back, V called Pearl to ask her if she needed anything at CVS, where I’d told V we could stop for her to pick up a couple of items she’d wanted to buy with her own money. Pearl put in an order for blue Gatorade and a Hershey’s bar and said she’d pay V back when we got home. When they hung up, V said, “Oh my God, her voice is sooooo cute on the phone!” I agreed, and we both pointed out how much they adore each other even though neither would ever readily admit it. She mentioned how even when she gets mad these days, it doesn’t last as long as it did, say, a year ago. I agreed, and said it was kind of like running: you can measure the shape you’re in not just by how fast or far you can run, but how quickly you recover afterwards. We all have our moments, our meltdowns, our mad. It’s the bouncing back I see as a trustworthy fitness gauge, be it physical or emotional.

We stopped at CVS, V picked up her stuff along with Pearl’s. And then, back home, something amazing happened. The two of them joined forces. The town Pearl created in her room became their town together. Aviva finished cleaning her own room, and proudly told me that she and Pearl had a new agreement that they could now enter each other’s rooms. (This has historically been cause for immediate screaming, on both of their parts.) I heard the sound of the typewriter, then went and obtained my new library card and checked out “Catching Fire” from the “stacks.”

Just as spontaneously as this all seemed to go down, I stood there in the hallway for a minute, taking a break from making dinner, and said something glowing about what I’d observed today. Setting the tone for a new year.

We ate homemade tzatziki (omg wow) and falafel for dinner. The girls watched a movie, during which I learned that school has been preemptively canceled for tomorrow and Friday, due to a storm that could bring anywhere between five and eighteen inches of snow our way between tonight and Friday morning. I decided not to tell them tonight, since they were both tired and mentally prepared to go to bed as if it were a school night. It’ll be a treat in the morning, that’s for sure. (I’m crossing my fingers Hampshire will close. But not holding my breath.)

Every day, our kids make so many decisions. We all do. Often, these come accompanied by phrases like: “GET OUT OF MY ROOM” and “YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW THE MEANING OF THE WORD ‘SHARE'” and “SHE ALWAYS” and “SHE NEVER” and other things in all caps that make my head explode. Today, they made a decisions, too. The decided to make a town and start a taco business. They cleaned their rooms. They went running and ice-skating. They sat all cozied up together eating chocolate ice cream watching a movie.

Obviously, this all pleased me greatly. But the thing I’m most pleased about? The fact that they didn’t do these things to please me. They pleased themselves. You could sense it all day and into the evening. At one point, they even said they wanted to share a room (Aviva later said this wasn’t really true). That’s when I went into our room and whispered to Mani, “They want to share a room!?” I told her I was going to savor this moment, knowing full well it’ll change and change and change.

But man, for January 1 to be this harmonious at home? That’ll carry me a while.

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