Friday, September 3, 2010

Leave the Laundry, Tend to the Fire

You know you have a lot on your mind when you load the washing machine with dirty clothes, then clean the lint trap on the dryer and start the dryer instead of the washer. One half-hour later my dirty clothes were just as dirty, and my clean clothes were twice as dry. Perhaps I needed to forget the laundry and just talk to someone, but Toby doesn't listen very attentively and Hannah, well, Hannah has talking needs of her own. It was hard to find a spare minute to sit down and type today too. There's been a lot happening at the Eby house.

This morning Emma put on her brand-new, too-big, pink backpack and posed in front of the flowers outside for her first day of pre-school. She was beaming, "Ow I bi nou go cool wigh Nomi!" ("Now I big enough go school like Naomi!") I thought she might be timid at such a new experience but she jumped right into the activity. It helps that there are only seven children in the class and they're all at least as speech-challenged as Emma. She was telling her teacher about her new light-up shoes when I left, but the teacher wasn't understanding any of it. Hopefully they'll learn her language soon, or better yet, maybe she'll learn to speak ours.

As I was waiting to pick Emma up from preschool two hours later, multiple fire truck and paramedic trucks whizzed past the school with sirens blaring. There's always a moment where I wonder if they might be headed to my house, but as we live in a huge city the odds are about one in ten-thousand. So I quickly set my mind to praising my round-faced, bright-eyed, baby on completing her first day of school. She told me all about it. I understood only "play" and "crackers," but that sounded like fun to me.

As we pulled into our neighborhood I had to carefully squeeze our van between the nine fire and paramedic trucks lining the street. I rolled down my window to ask one of the on-lookers what had happened. "House fire," he said, "they just broke down the door." There were tiny wisps of smoke rising from a house directly across from our house, just one street over. There must have been thirty firemen talking on radios, running with hoses, or just standing around the house. I hurried into our home, scooped up Toby, and walked the kids over to fill their eyes with all the firetrucks and firemen they could handle. Toby, for once in his life, stood still and quiet beside his sisters, mesmerized. The action was winding down by that time. The small fire had been put out, and the firemen were setting up fans to air out the house and rolling up their hoses again. We talked about the special clothes the firemen wore and the tools they used, and I congratulated myself on a sucessful field-trip for my kids.

We spent most of the afternoon digging some boxes that we needed out of the massive pile of our belongings in the garage. Then a friend needed my consolation and advice on the phone. I ended up microwaving leftovers for dinner. I didn't get to the internet research on celiac disease I had wanted to do today. I didn't ever dry that load of laundry. I didn't fold the two loads waiting impatiently in laundry baskets. I never got to have that talk that would have helped to unwind the tangled web of thoughts in my brain. Somedays you have to be thankful for seeing firemen and let the laundry pile up. Somedays the talk you need to have has to wait while you give a friend the talk she needs to have. Somedays what you thought you needed that day wasn't really what you needed after all.

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