A hazy pink sky peeks through the trees in my backyard and threatens an end to this afternoon. Ordinary, and yet one I already have impressed upon my memory forever.
My oldest daughter is seven. The perfect age for a “BFF.” She has two, so she says, and has been anticipating a sleep over tonight with one of them. We’ll call her Kaleigh (because that is her name!). As we rode home from church today Rivers was so excited about Kaleigh coming over she didn’t think she could stand to wait until after lunch to go pick her up. So we all began joking about Rivers’ great plan to walk to Kaleigh’s house when we got home (we do not share a zip code). It was all fun and games.
Until we arrived home and Rivers and Leah went outside and I thought they were going to play in the yard. My children are not allowed out of our yard without permission and they are never, ever, ever allowed to go walking and roaming in our neighborhood alone. So you can imagine my confusion when as I stood looking out of the window I watched them head out. Away. Not in the yard. I thought they must be going a few houses down to a neighbor friend’s house but Shannon said no, they had not said that. I went outside calling after them but within seconds they were out of my sight. I took off after them, still expecting to find them at Julia’s (which would still be trouble and breaking a rule!), but they had not stopped at Julia’s.
I stood, stunned and speechless, on the sidewalk as I realized my two daughters had just walked off! Long time neighbor moms came to the rescue. One jumped in her car and said I will drive around the neighborhood. The other (Julia’s mom) said I will check our neighborhood park. I ran back home and hopped into my Jeep. As I pulled out, OUT, of my subdivision I saw my neighbor’s car pulled over along a nature trail that runs along the busy road. She was directing my two little girls into her car and told me she would bring them home.
As I turned around and drove back home, still in disbelief, I vacillated between the punishment of their lives and a surreal calm that could only have come from my Heavenly Father. They unloaded and I instructed them to have a seat on the front porch steps. Whereas I at times lose my cool over toys cluttering the house or raise my voice because I don’t want to hear one more syllable of sisterly-love bickering, I remained (amazingly) calm as I spelled out with crystal clarity how dangerous the stunt was and what they could expect should they ever in their whole lives decide to try something like that again. Apologies were offered. Forgiveness was granted. I remain stunned.
As I wrap up this post the pink sky is turning black and my beautiful family remains outside. BFF is here. Little girls, gloves and toboggans, giggling and enjoying each other. My husband is working on a treehouse. Trouble has passed.
One day, when Rivers is twenty-something, we will tease her about her adventure. She has, after all, declared she will be an explorer when she grows up. We will probably shake our heads at the things kids do and how their innocent, unsuspecting little siblings follow along. Not laughing yet, though. A slight smile, perhaps. These extraordinary moments of my ordinary life.
A sigh and whisper of thanksgiving to my God.