Summer came really early this year. Schools were emptied in a rush; sometimes without anyone even realizing they weren’t going back the next day, leaving an apocalyptic scene of pencils on the floor and next-day papers sitting neatly stacked on the teacher’s desk waiting for the tomorrow that never came.
It was confusing and worrisome as we gingerly tested the new normal, not certain if it was to be short-lived or would mark the end of the in-school experience for the 2019 school year. Parents dug out old board games and jigsaw puzzles in an effort to keep kids busy and minds occupied, because we didn’t have answers for all the questions, and honestly just wanted to make it through the odd April days so that kids could be tucked in safely for the night while we did the worrying for them.
At first, it was fun, spending Spring days together, teaching the basics of Scattergories and Battleship and printing word search games out on the printer. There were Zoom meetings with cousins and grandparents, online scavenger hunts with classmates and plenty of time to watch reruns of everything from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ to early seasons of ‘Lost’, with lots of movies in between. I remember having a conversation with my adult son, wondering if there was indeed a theological purpose for the invention of interactive video games, because the Good Lord knew the kids were going to need a way to stay connected with friends in early 2020, even though we had spent so much time fretting over them bringing cell phones to the dinner table and spouting FortNite terminology ad nauseam.
So this Spring, there were bike rides at dawn and interactive neighborhood chalk projects, long walks to count teddy bears on porches and rainbows in windows, listening for barking dogs and crying babies. Extra points for twins. And endless thanks for Pinterest ideas, unless they were ridiculously impressive and demeaning to mere average parents.
One day, our 8 and 11-year-old Omaha grandboys saw a couple of kids fishing at a neighborhood lake. Great idea! New idea! And thanks to Amazon, a couple of brand spanking new rods and reels made their way to their excited hands, and a new hobby was ready to be perfected. So much promise; such big smiles! But then such big piles of smelly green algae clogging up the lines and causing a frustrated boy to repeatedly yank hook, line and sinker out of the water and nearly into his mother’s face. And the ignominious walk home with angry Mom, while his little brother stayed behind with Dad to continue fishing.
Just a trial run; surely the next beautifully bright Omaha morning would hold more promise. But it held nothing biting, fishing was boring, and somehow the two brothers’ two lines became terribly tangled and the weeks of frustration, worry, confusion and fear finally worked their way to the surface. It was a longer time coming that I would have predicted; those boys are troupers. But there was sudden anger and there were tears, and there were loud protestations of, “But Mom, sometimes things just get really tangled up!” as they trudged their way home.
Deep breaths, everyone, enjoy a cherry popsicle or two as the grandboys did. We’re all going to get through this. Sometimes things just get really tangled.