My sister and her family were in town over the weekend. Her visit was already scheduled when we got the news that my uncle died and the funeral was scheduled for Saturday when she would be here. We made the collective decision to leave all the children behind with our husbands and drive down to Chicago with my parents. I think it was the first time just the four of us, the family of origin if you will, were alone together since, well, maybe since Molly got married almost ten years ago.
It felt very familiar, though, to be in the backseat with Molly, watching our father try to ward off my mother's irresistible urge to pinch or tickle him when he is most vulnerable, e.g. operating heavy machinery or poised on the top of a stepladder. His default position when he sees her approaching is to tuck and turn. Molly did manage to convince my mother not to pack egg salad sandwiches for the trip, so we were spared that re-run of our childhood. She could not, however, persuade my mom to leave behind the drinking glass she brings with her and fills up from the tap at various rest stops.
It was surprisingly painless to leave the kids behind. We were a little nervous, since both Jude and Molly Jo are still nursing, but all four survived and even thrived without us. Everyone napped. No one was injured. McDonald's, frozen pizza, G&L chili dogs and B.W. Wild Wings were consumed. The house was clean. Much cleaner, in fact, than when I am in charge of it, confirming once again that Dean would be the better stay-at-home parent. And maybe he would have better luck teaching Frankie how to write the letter 'K' because heaven knows I have been unsuccessful.
This trip was the first time that one of our big dreams finally came true: Sylvie and Frankie played together nicely. There was the one time when Frankie deliberately mowed Sylvie down with her bicycle and the one time when Sylvie slapped Frankie's legs because she wouldn't get down from a chair, but overall the visit was marked by a great deal of delighted screaming. It helps that Sylvie can talk so well now since she and Frankie can plot what they want to do. And let me clarify that when I say Sylvie talks well, what I mean is that her vocabulary and sentence structure is very advanced. Her actual enunciation is much like someone who drank a fifth of Jack Daniels and then tried to converse with a mouthful of marbles. You haven't lived until you have heard Sylvie pronounce the word "little" because it involves a lot of gratuitous tongue rolling that never fails to delight me thoroughly.
I really got nostalgic for Molly's babyhood this weekend, though. Jude is six months old and is still hilariously immobile and drooly. He has this giant potato shaped head and just grins at you while he sits propped in the crook of your arm, periodically turning to examine your face with great interest. The only hitch in our relationship was the fact that he somehow knew that I also was a potential source of milk like his mother. He'd start giving the hungry "heh-heh-heh" cry and claw at my shirt and then look at me with a real sense of betrayal, like "Why you gotta bring that around here if you're gonna be so stingy with it?". Because your father is not ready to go all Salma Hayek and pass the babies around from bosom to bosom. THAT'S WHY.