As the children grew, the house began to feel smaller, of course. Tucker is 6-feet tall and Spencer is 6-foot 4-inches tall, while Grace is 5-foot 10-inches. Everyone in the family towers over me. And if we get in the living room together, everyone's long legs jut into the middle and make me feel a little claustrophobic.
We convinced Grace to live at home until after a trip to London this fall. She has an apartment ready to move into when she returns, if she returns. She's hoping to find work in London. We told her it didn't make sense to rent a place if she might move. Getting through a summer with her brothers in the house is proving to be a challenge though. The boys believe they have an innate right to choose the television stations, even though there's another equally good television in the basement.
And the two boys can be intolerant of Grace when she's dramatic. That's why she's an actress though.
Yesterday while I was at work, Grace and Spencer got into a fight. This wasn't the first time.
Grace had said hurtful words to Spencer earlier in the summer, and now Spencer had a chance to fling them back at Grace.
As I talked to them both individually last evening, I realized what they didn't -- the words had hurt each of them.
I mean, Grace knew she was hurt by Spencer's words, and Spencer knew he was hurt by Grace's words, but neither of them realized how hurtful they had been to the other.
"He's holding onto that pain a month later," I explained to Grace.
And I also let Spencer know how deep his shot had landed on his sister.
Last night, as Spence headed to bed, he stopped by Grace's bedroom. I didn't hear his apology, but I was encouraged that he'd reached that place of maturity. He didn't want her hurting.
And that's my hope for the future with my kids. They realize how important they are to each other, even when they're fighting. Their opinions matter. Their judgment of each other matters, even when they say it doesn't.
Tucker has vacated the house for 10 days, going on a hiking trip to Utah with some friends.
He texted me throughout the day, and night, as they drove. "To Illinois."
"In Nebraska where the time changes."
"Driving straight thru instead of stopping."
"Just got to Salt Lake City."
With five of them in the car, they drove overnight.
Sometimes it's easier for Tucker and me to communicate when he's far away. He's still in that stage where I might not get more than a grunt or nod out of him in the morning or when he comes home from work.
As I was walking this morning, I heard a song.
And it immediately took me back to a time with Tucker.When Tucker was 11, his brother and sister had started school while Tucker continued to homeschool. He was at a swimming peak, and the two of us often drove to swim meets together.
Tucker would make CDs for us to listen to in the car, and this was one of the songs he included.
I remember listening to the song and dancing in the driver's seat, and embarrassing Tucker. But we laughed about it.
Every song I hear from that CD reminds me of those good shared experiences, and the kid who is in there and might, like a butterfly, emerge again.
Meanwhile, he's doing what he needs to. He works five days a week, he's taking college classes, he's playing soccer or Frisbee golf or working out, and he's spending time with friends.
Someday we may laugh again about something ridiculous, but in the end, I know he loves me, even if he isn't that 11-year-old anymore.
Maybe you can remind me the next time I'm kvetching about my kids, that there's good too. I just have to remember it.