If we're lucky he's home before seven. Some days later. Some days so late, even I'm in bed, not sleeping but almost. And then there are the days when he's home early and it's still light out; before I've started dinner when the kids are still playing with cars and Play-Doh, building cities against windows - cakes with dimpled hands.
I believe in children with green half-mustaches. Of marker on elbows and paint in hair and band-aid tattoo belts. Of mismatched shoes and skinny-dipping in puddles and saving snails from morning sidewalks. So does he.
Kind of amazing how you can start a life with someone, be such completely different people and then, over time, converge - overlap. Not completely but in certain ways until he looks at you one day and says, "you sound like me" and you look back and say in your deepest, manliest voice, "No you sound like me."
Archer finds a snail in the garden and wants to keep him so I build him a habitat in a vase.
"Just for the night," I say and Archer pouts.
From the other room I hear Archer ask Hal the same question:
"Just for the night." he also says.
"But I want to keep him!"
"But he isn't yours to keep!"
Jinks. You owe me a coke. Even though neither of us drink coke. Jinks, you owe me a glass of water. Room temp. Yes and yes.
Before dinner, if we're lucky and he's home, he plays the piano. He plays and Fable dances and Archer sometimes joins her and the house is full of music and dresses that blur like spinning tops. We are dizzy and sometimes we fall down. Stand up, find our way back to the kitchen, or the crafts table, or each other.
"Dinner's ready!" I say but they want to play a few minutes longer. I let them. Even if it means a cold dinner, because this is the time where anything is possible - where Play-Doh becomes her gourmet recipe for "poop cakes" and the daylight wanes just so that it can dance across the parking lot he's now constructing.
Because this is their time, their place, and watching them find themselves in the crumbs and spokes of future artifacts is why I love being their parent. It's why I can't wait to meet their sisters. It's why I watch them and write here and follow their eyes as they think and learn and explore without caring how big the mess. This is their moment. His hour before he has to turn off his train, retire his cars to their parking structure. Her hour before the mustache comes off and the marker tattoos and the orange paint in her hair.