We are all seated with friends around a table enjoying a dinner celebrating good company, the start of February vacation and a girl's soccer game victory.
My youngest son - Liam, sits and watches as his oldest sister flicks her French fries around her plate from her seat beside her friends.. at the end of the table.
Her face is pale and she looks sad.
Liam's little head is tilted to the side, hands clenched and his brows are furrowed. When I say that Liam admires his big sister - I mean it.
The firstborn and the youngest of my four kids share this indescribable bond. I call them my "bookends". They support the middle two and help keep order.
My oldest and youngest are the two who use logic and common sense before emotion. They are fast thinkers and even faster talkers. They finish each other’s sentences. They roll their eyes at my "middles" (my middle two kiddos) who just so happen to be all emotion and action.
The "bookends" spend a majority of their time trying to maintain the peace in the Holloway household (although they have been guilty of causing a raucous themselves) my oldest and my youngest are almost exactly 7 years apart in age.
From the corner of my eye I notice my youngest silently observing his sister -- for I had been doing the same since she had fallen during her soccer game.
Liam notices something is not right with his sister and because he is seated next to me --- tugs on my arm. "Mom... Mom...Mommy...Mom... Moooom... Mommmma?"
He is relentless. I am in mid-sentence with our friends at the table. I am not sure how long he has been saying my name and tugging my arm -- but now our company has stopped speaking to me and has paused politely.
--A kind and gentle cue from my friends to see what Mr. Liam wanted.
Guilty am I of often finding myself not hearing the kiddos when they try to get my attention. Most often it is while I am in the middle of something. I guess it is a defense mechanism I have developed over the years.
It is a blessing and a curse...
With four children under the age of ten in my cozy little house I am often being asked questions, complained to or comforting while simultaneously making dentist appointments, talking to my own Mother, assisting with homework, patching boo-boo's, wiping bottoms, cooking dinner (not while wiping bottoms of course) or trying to have a conversation with my husband.
There are very few places to go to find peace in my house, so you learn to adapt.
No complaining here... just stating the facts.
You have to learn to tune out some or you could seriously short circuit. And a short circuited Mother is not a good thing. Right?
Anyways, Liam has noticed that something is wrong with his girl. And there was. By the time dinner was finished and we had packed us all into the minivan and headed home my oldest was sobbing. Come to find out, she had sprained her ankle. The injury was an impressive sprain that knocked her for a loop and laid her up for half of our February vacation.
This ankle injury also required us to borrow some crutches from our neighbor.
We retrieved the crutches and when we brought them into my ten year old her face lit up. And no wonder.
These crutches had been decorated with florescent pink and zebra striped duck tape. There were sparkly little ribbons that formed loopy bows on the handles -- they were designed by a fashionista from across the way.
They were the best medicine for my daughter. They cheered her up immediately.
She was sick of hearing me say "RICE" (rest, ice, compress and elevate) every time she would follow me around the house whimpering and hopping on one foot. The crutches were fun - I had to admit.
When Liam caught sight of Lil's face when she received the crutches he beamed with joy. He went over to his sister and tugged on her leg. She looked down at him and he looked lovingly up at her. He patted the crutches with his little hands and said to Lil, "Nice Crotches Lil."
Lily's face transformed from elated to a shocked and maybe both a bit annoyed and slightly amused.
"What did you say Liam?" she politely gave her brain twin another chance to ask her THE QUESTION.
Liam, his cheeks pink, takes his little hand and puts it to his forehead. He shakes his head as if he realizes his error and says while laughing, "Sorry Lil! I did not mean that, I meant to say, I really love your pink and zebra striped Crotches!!!"
Just then, my oldest son, Colin screams with laughter! He chirps in, "Yeah Lil - NICE CROTCHES" -- Colin blows up a whoopy cushion and lets out its obnoxious sound while simultaneously running through the house comically repeating that awful mistake over and over. It was obviously hilarious to the boys.
Lily was in hell.
She had hope for this youngest male sibling. You could see her dreams of living a more civilized existence (because of Liam) here with these other kids flash before her eyes.
Lily clenches her teeth and screeches as calmly as she can -- "Crutches Liam. They are called CRUTCHES."
Out of the mouth of babes....