On Friday afternoon, just before about a million people descended upon our house to wish Paddy farewell, Mike called a family meeting. The purpose, he explained, was to talk about how we were feeling with the whirlwind events leading up to Patrick's departure. We wanted to make sure that the little ones understood that he was going and that contact would be limited and they wouldn't see him for several months. Mike started with Karoline:
Kari, what do you think about Paddy joining the National Team?
I think it's totally not fair that he gets to go to school and I'm stuck here in preschool.
Nothing like a little laughter to break the tension.
Nick, what about you?
Well, I think it's cool that he's going to play for the National Team and I can brag about it tell all my friends that my big brother is on the US Team, but, [chin quivers, eyes fill], there won't be anyone big here to play backyard soccer with me. Paddy's totally cool...[dissolve]
Karoline pipes up: But you have me. I can play with you in the backyard. I'll make you happy.
On to Katie.
[crying] I'm going to miss him... [dissolve]
Karoline, again: But you have me! I will play with you and make you happy!
What Nick said.
Karoline, again: But you guys... you have ME!
And so it went. Karoline determined to make up for anything lacking in Paddy's absence.
Yesterday evening, I surveyed the state of my house which was absolutely showing signs of neglect. I sighed, "I guess I really do need to re-work the chore chart." I'd been putting it off and putting it off, not knowing exactly how to fill his shoes without completely overwhelming Mary Beth. "Ugh," I said to anyone within earshot, but mostly Stephen, "how in the world are we going to redistribute?"
Stephen shrugged, hoping against hope that he wasn't going to get extra chores.
That's easy! piped the golden-curled one. You have me. I don't have any chores on the chart, so cross out Paddy and write "K-A-R-I" Easy peasy.
So, if you happen by my house and glance at the chore chart on the refrigerator and wonder why my three- year-old is in charge of the mudroom, the boys' laundry, the kids' bathroom, wiping down the kitchen at the end of the day, and turning off the lights at night, it's because she wanted it that way;-).
And Karoline, don't worry when you get to that last light and you're too scared to turn it off and go upstairs in the dark.
Paddy never did. He was scared, too.