“Do you live around here?” She helped one of her two navigate the climbing wall.
“Yes, that house on the corner. How about you?”
She pointed in the opposite direction and said they lived that way. “Geez, I guess the last time I saw you was at the grocery store? How’ve you been? Is Jen playing hooky today?”
“We’ve been homeschooling for about four years now.” I turned to watch Jen navigate the monkey bars.
“Awesome! I’d love to do that, but my kids don’t listen to me.”
I laughed and nodded, “Well, my kids pretty much begged me to consider homeschooling, so I guess that makes ’em want to listen.”
I noticed her smile had gotten warmer. She smiled with her whole face now. Back in her first marriage, her smile was more like a defense mechanism – “If I keep smiling, maybe I’ll finally be happy.”
“You look so good, so happy. How are things for you?”
“I’m so lucky. My husband works so hard to make sure we are taken care of and loved. He’s kind and thoughtful. The youngest two (with her second husband) are always happy. I didn’t know kids could be so happy. My older two, well… my second is dealing with anger issues. His father denies that there’s a problem. No surprise there. My oldest is doing real well in school. I was worried she’d be the one with problems.”
“Do they see their dad very often?”
As she caught her youngest coming off the slide she said, “When it’s convenient for him.”
“Where’s Will? What’s he up to?”
“Well, he’s driving now. He drove to the golf course this morning. You wouldn’t believe how tall he is.”
“OMG. I can’t believe how the time goes.”
We followed our kids around the structure, getting caught up, talking about how it felt like spring would never get here.
“So how’s it going with… you-know-who?”
I laughed and said, “Well, it’s better than it used to be. He’s not real involved in the kids’ lives, but we are good with that.”
She looked at me and said, “Really?”
“Does that surprise you?”
“No! I was kidding. I remember what he was like with his first two. I’m not at all surprised.”
I kicked the new bark that padded the landing under the swings. “I know. I should have known. I should have seen that coming.”
Her daughter yelled, “More, mommy! Push me again!” She pushed her red-headed cutie and said, “There’s no point in beating ourselves up, we were brainwashed.”