• Lijing Cobb

A blessed day

We slowed down time and lived a day unrushed, as it should be.

In the morning we saw rain falling out of the sky, hitting our deck, and instantaneously became ice. We went outside to marvel at the ice world forming on our maple tree right at the front door. Having determined that our parking lot and the driveway were miraculously spared of the ice treatment somehow, we decided to venture out to the movie theater for an action film we had wanted to see for a while now. At 10:30 we started scraping the ice off of the car. By 11 we were at the theater purchasing our tickets. Aside from one other person hugging a huge popcorn to his chest in the middle of the last row, we had the entire theater to ourselves. For 2 hours we were thoroughly entertained by a dramatic story about friendship, trust, and loss.

On our way back we stopped at the local library so the kids could check out some books to read. They have sworn themselves into daily menial labor for a month if they were to lose any one of their borrowed books. Half an hour later, they carried their loot out with huge smiles on their faces.

The icicles that had formed on trees in the morning were melting by then. The world shimmered and sang when icicles detached themselves from little branches and leapt to the ground.

When we got home, my son retired to his room, eyes trained on one of his books, while my daughters and I stayed in the kitchen to make guacamole for a leisurely snack. I stood next to my little one and cut the onion, she cried because she was closer to the onion than I was. “Mom, it’s not funny!” She pouted when I laughed, but when she looked up at me she couldn’t hold back her own laughter either. “It’s not fair! I’m too short!” She whined, and continued cutting the tomato that refused to be cut easily into little pieces by little hands.

I took out cilantro and cut it for the guacamole. My 10yo gasped and exclaimed that I had ruined it for her since she must cut the cilantro, and she turned with a little dramatic flare to leave. “Why do you have to cut the cilantro?” I shouted after her. “I just do!” She replied as she continued on her way to her room upstairs. Guess there’s not much use for reason in a preteen’s world, oh well.

When we finally finished the preparation, my 7yo ate daintily with an upturned little finger; my 10yo came back down unannounced, nonchalantly eating mostly chips because to her, it is 9 chips and 1 guacamole; and I picked big chips out of the ocean of little fragments in the chip bowl and scooped the guac generously into my mouth and savored each bite. My son stayed in his room and devoured his book further. I dare say that the guac turned out to be perfect.

Then we all read. I’m starting a new book called Be Here Now by Ram Dass. Perfect book for such a day. My 10yo is reading a big book that my son wants to borrow after she’s done, but she refuses with just the perfect mix of jauntiness and disdain. “You must read the first 3 books before you can read this one. Otherwise you won't understand!” “I can read it! I can understand it!” My son protests, his eyes surveying the big, beautiful book greedily. People always tell me how lucky I am to have kids who love reading. Yes, I’ll take a fight over books anytime.

I wanted to continue to sit there and read for the rest of the day, but then remembered the three little words I wrote down on my daily planner, avocado (check), pineapple, and eggplant, and decided that I needed to honor the two that were still unchecked. I sucked on the core of the pineapple as I cut it, and it turned out to be heavenly. As my teeth bit into the flesh of the fruit, my eyes landed on the idyllic landscape perfectly lit up for me in a frame just outside the French doors of my kitchen. There is beauty everywhere, if only we just lift our head and look around a bit. “How beautiful is this!” I say to my 10yo, and she agrees readily.

Then I took a bowl out and started to pull the meat off of a rotisserie chicken. Little fingers eagerly reached for the edible pieces and we hung out for a while like this, talking about our preferences for dark meat vs. white meat (well, they like them both, just different). And we talked about not smearing little greasy fingers on everything while they finger lifted chicken pieces into their mouths. When I was done, so were they, happy and content.

Then I cooked the most delicious salmon and broccoli for the kids, as well as an eggplant and chicken dish for my husband and me. My little one ate an equal portion to her siblings, a tribute only for food that really strikes her fancy. My 10yo started with half a piece of salmon just to make sure first, and after a couple of bites, immediately requested the other half to be placed on her plate as well.

“I could have a little bit more salmon if you would give it to me.” My son suggested politely. He had started wolfing down his food earlier, a habit he has whenever he really likes something, but after being reminded he was able to slow down and chew his food thoroughly. So I gave him another small piece, and he thanked me before he ate.

While I cleaned up the kitchen, my kids surrounded my husband, helping and supervising the online poker game he was playing. My husband is teaching the kids how to play poker. "It's a game of calculation, numbers," he says, "you bet on good chances, not bad ones." As he explains his decisions to call or fold, the kids learn. About the game, about their father, about life.

We wrapped up our day by watching an episode of Lost in Space, a show that everyone gets something out of. While I sipped my bourbon drink my husband had made me, my son sat to my right, a seat he had requested before we sat down, and my little one perched in my lap with all her 48lb of weight. The family on the show is working together to survive, and working their way back to each other. The family I have in my living room are currently working together to thrive, and we are building bridges to get closer to each other.

On a full stomach, my son got on the scale last night, and saw that he was 2 pounds lighter than before. He has been on a diet for 6 days now where he avoids eating anything that has added sugar, and it’s working. “Mom,” he says, “I really feel great. I don’t even miss having sugar. It’s really not that bad at all.”

“You are doing such a great job,” I say, smiling at his smiling face, “I am very proud of you. Keep going, and let’s see where we land!”

I realize with a gentle stir in my heart that I just said the same thing to myself as well. The days are never without challenges, but every day it gets a little easier to choose the right thing, to do a little bit more good, to show a little bit more kindness, to get rid of a little bit more negativity, to share a little bit more love and laughter.

Ice crystals on our maple tree. They materialized for a few hours yesterday, and departed without any struggle when it was time for them to go with a song and a dance.

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