We arrived early and had a few minutes to wander the halls and see some of Pete's recent artwork. One is definitely a keeper, a painting of a cherry blossom tree. After we guided Peter to his classroom where he joined his peers prior to the performance, we found seats in the school cafeteria which had been set up as an impromptu auditorium. Pete told us to sit stage left, and as the kids filed in to take their places on the risers facing the audience, we discovered why. We were right in front of Pete's class.
The music teacher guided the classes through a few uninspired numbers. Honestly, nothing will compare to the time Pete dressed as a swan and danced to Korean hip-hop in Chennai. Though their rendition of "This Land is Your Land" was rousing and enthusiastic enough to bring a tear to my eye (which isn't saying much these days; I remember I was incredibly tired from a mostly sleepless Tueaday night and almost brought to tears by music on my earphones both coming to and going from work on the Metro).
We walked everyone back down the hill afterwards and hurried everyone through a quick dinner and showers. We've fallen into a routine--mostly out of necessity, partly out of me working nights some weeks--of only showering or bathing every other night. Usually only the sweatiness or dirtiest kid will get to shower. By the end of a long, hot day it's just one more battle neither Elise or I are willing to suit up for.
Sometimes bedtimes can be short and sweet. Most times, it is a test of wills no gladiator or Spartan would be willing to take on. They insist their not tired in between gaping yawns. Elise insists the bedtime routine is smoother when I'm not home, that her adherence to regiment has them all in bed and asleep by 7:00. They know they're not going to get any concessions from her.
Me, on the other hand...I'm too much a softie. Elise accuses me of caving to all of their demands. No matter how ludicrous. From their beds, they whine that they are hungry, thirsty, can't sleep, and are bored. They want me to lay with them. I've gotten better. I tuck them in, sometimes say prayers, depending on how tired I am, kiss them goodnight, and get hem a sip of water. I know it sounds like a lot. But I've really cut back.
Wednesday night, after Peter's performance and art show, where he was the center of attention for the night, Sam was feeling a little left out. I am the hardest on Sam and heap the most praise on Petey. I know I do it, and I try to treat them more equal. I believe it has a lot to do of my high expectations of Sam, a standard I don't hold Peter to, but I would never be able to explain that to them, so Wednesday night, I decided to lie in bed with Sam for a few minutes before he fell asleep.
As he smuggled into my arms, I whispered in his ear, telling him that he would always be my firstborn son, that even if we had 12 more children, he would still be the firstborn and that made him special and it was something no one would ever be able to take away from him and something that would never change. He seemed to find great comfort in these words.
I remember my dad saying something similar to me once. I don't remember why or what the circumstances were that prompted him to tell me this, but I remember, too, finding great comfort in this sentiment.