By: Tanya Ward Goodman
Last week was a mess. Rainstorms, early school release four days in a row, lost homework, lost jackets, quick tempers, angry words, no patience, no food in the fridge, workers in the house, strange wiring problems, sleeping problems, plumbing problems. The dog barked incessantly and so did the kids. My husband said, “you seem really angry.” He said this in the soft voice you’d use if you ran into an escaped circus lion at the park.
I was really angry. And tired. And overwhelmed. And so were the kids. And, truthfully, so was my husband despite his ability to still muster a calm voice.
Some weeks are like that. We hunkered down in the dark and the noise and waited.
On Sunday two doors opened.
First the kids found a small door in the closet of their bedroom. It’s a door that leads into the eaves above our living room. If you shine a flashlight, you can see plaster and the beams that support the roof. You can see two squares of daylight at the far end where vents are placed to let air circulate. There is dust in this space and one small bobby pin. That’s what I saw, anyway, when I kneeled down in the back of the closet and peered into the door.
My kids saw little red eyes, they saw evidence of a person living in the attic. They heard ghostly whispers and heavy footsteps. They measured the space and took samples of fibers that may or may not have come from a vampire’s cloak. They spent hours in the closet, thinking, talking, wondering. They wrote notes in a small spiral notebook, they ran screaming from the room when their imaginings grew too big for their young brains to contain.
This same day, in the midst of the detective work and the running and the screaming, I opened our front door to find a man holding a guitar. There was another, taller man with red hair and mirrored sunglasses and he was holding a drum. A nice woman holding a boom mike wondered if they could come into our house and play us a few songs. The kids ran down the stairs and the dog barked and I said, “Why not?”
They were from a webcast called Knock and Rock (www.knockandrock.com) and they set up in our living room amidst the Lego villages and the Lincoln Log settlement and they played two songs.
The kids were rapt. The guitar player had a nice voice and a kind smile. The sunlight streamed in the window and we sat and listened. We were all held in this moment by the music and the sunshine. I felt like it was the first time in a week that I had been still. It was definitely the first time I’d sat still and silent in the company of my children. It was wonderful.
Afterwards, the musicians packed up and said good-bye and we went back to the whirl of our day. My husband and son ran off to the park and I drove my daughter to a birthday party. Later, there were baths and dinner and last minute homework. There was some yelling and some frustration and I wondered if I could call up those musicians and have them return. Do we always need strangers in our midst to be on good behavior?
But this morning, we woke up to find cheerful children who got dressed without a fuss. Because that first moment was easy, the rest of the morning unspooled gently and for the first time in ten days, I did not breathe a sigh of relief when my husband and kids left for school.
Two doors opened this weekend. They changed our point of view, reminded us that no matter how intense or crummy or crazy our life is, there is always a way out.