Sunday, September 28, 2014


The police were at our house for a little over an hour last Sunday. David was outside working on his truck, and I was getting ready for a birthday party. He walked into the kitchen, his eyes scanning the counter. "I need my phone. I need my phone." I stood, reaching across the table to hand it to him. "There's a lady in our driveway. She's been walking for five hours and she doesn't know where she is. I told her I was going to get my phone and she just said, 'please don't leave me here.' We need to get her help."

We sat her on the patio and got her a glass of water. She explained that she was new to Boise and had gone for a walk that morning, only to become confused. Her hands writhed in her lap, giving away the fear and nervousness that lurked behind her calm smile. Morgan danced around her, asking questions about who she was and where she lived. "Lucille," she said, Morgan's questions seemingly putting her at ease. Morgan explained to her that we were going to a party, proudly showing Lucille the bright blue polish she had picked for her friend. The conversation fell into silence again, Lucille looking back to her lap. I noticed the tips of several of her fingers were missing, and I stopped myself from asking her what happened.

I began to ask Lucille some questions, trying to collect enough information to help her get home. She had a daughter. And two granddaughters. She lived with her daughter. No wait, she stayed with her granddaughter. They were 6 and 12. Or maybe one of them was 20. She was able to provide me with names, and I immediately began searching online. I discovered that her daughter did indeed live just a few blocks from us, but I could not find a phone number to call her.

David explained to Lucille that we were going to call the police. "But the police only come when you're in trouble," her voice trembled. "No, they also come to help, and today they're going to help us." And they did. Two officers pulled in front of our house; we met them in the driveway so as not to further upset Lucille. I gave them all the information I had, handing them the smattering of information I was able to pull from Facebook. "We're going to leave her here, if that's alright. The last thing she needs right now is to be put in the back of a police car." I looked at my watch, we were going to be late for the party.

While the officers searched for family, we again chatted with Lucille. By now, Morgan had brought out her favorite pencil and a note card, showing Lucille her first grade penmanship as she wrote out the words Happy Birthday. Lucille told us that her husband had recently died and that she moved here from Lewiston. "I lived in Boise once, but it was a long time ago," she explained. We chatted about the weather, and her walk that morning, trying to make light of what was clearly troubling all of us. The party could wait, this was much more important.

The screech of tires pulled my eyes to the road. A young woman leaped from her car, running across the street while her driver's side door swung widely open. "I am so sorry, I am just so sorry!  We didn't know she got out. I am supposed to be babysitting and I didn't even hear her leave." I tried to calm her, letting her know that her grandmother was safe. She wasn't listening, "We have alarms on all the doors, and I thought she was napping. She won't wear her ID and I was supposed to be in charge of her." She looked desperately at us and then the officers, trying to gauge whether she was indeed in trouble for leaving her grandmother unattended.

"She's okay, she's really okay," I explained. "If we see your grandma again, we'll know exactly how to get her home." Lucille stood, the wave of relief clear as she met eyes with someone she knew. Down the sidewalk they walked, her granddaughter guiding her back to the car. "Good bye Lucille, it was nice to meet you!!!" Morgan exclaimed loudly. Lucille turned back "Good bye, Morgan. It was nice to meet you, too."

As they all pulled away, we scrambled to finish getting ready for the party. There was no time to discuss or reflect on the last hour. We piled into the truck, frantically trying to make up for lost time. As we rode in silence, David and I shared a glance. Lucille, I had discovered, was just a few years older than our own parents. The time we spent with her was humbling, a painful reminder of how fragile life is. Lucille was alone and scared, at the mercy of two strangers on a Sunday afternoon.

"Mom, but do you think she'll be okay?" Morgan suddenly spoke from the back seat, reminding me that she, too, had shared in this experience. Before I could respond, she answered her own question with another. "We just needed to make her feel comfortable. Do you think we made her feel comfortable? I think we really made her feel comfortable."  "Yes, Morgan, I think we did the best we could."

And I do, because making someone feel safe is sometimes more important than just about anything else.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Puppy Love

Morgan turned 6 last month. It was the first year she let us sing Happy Birthday to her without crying. She and I went out for a special breakfast that morning, where she swore me to secrecy. "Mom, I don't want you telling anyone it's my birthday, okay? It's my special day and I just don't want anyone to know." I agreed, not mentioning a word to our hostess as we were being seated. Within seconds, the following proclamation was being bellowed from across the booth, "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY AND I AM SIX AND MY MOM IS TAKING ME OUT FOR A SPECIAL BREAKFAST TODAY!!!"  Not two minutes later, we were engulfed in a birthday serenade by six waitresses and presented with the biggest chocolate doughnut I had ever seen. So much for keeping her birthday a secret.

But her birthday isn't the only secret Morgan's been keeping. You see, my daughter had gone and found herself a beau. And his name is Tyler. And he's an older man. A second grader. 

Morgan and Tyler have been two peas in a pod since last year. His mom teaches 1st grade with David, and the kids have the run of school before and after class each day. Morgan and Tyler play games, run feral, and occasionally make each other oatmeal in David's classroom. It's very romantic.

It should come as no surprise that Tyler was at the top of Morgan's guest list for her birthday party. She was so excited to invite him that we hand delivered his invitation. At 8:00 at night. On a Thursday. Morgan and Tyler hadn't seen each other all summer, so there were a few minutes of awkwardness. Until they remembered they were in love. And then they were off to reek havoc, just like old times. 

The night of her party, Morgan asked me about 5,964 times whether Tyler was coming. I assured her that he was. As soon as he arrived, all was right in the world. Don't get me wrong, Morgan was delighted to see all of her friends that night, but Tyler truly was the bees knees. As I was getting ready to post these pictures, I noticed Morgan had slyly slipped her arm around him just as I asked everyone to smile. Well played little lady, well played. 

The night was a win, complete with 2 hours of hot and sweaty kids and a shockingly minimal amount of tears.

 As the festivities wound down, the kids ate pizza and Morgan took some time to open gifts. Her friends were very kind and generous, filling Morgan's birthday with things she loved.

And then she opened Tyler's gift. You can't tell from the photo, but it's a Nerf bow and arrow. Its official name is the "Heart Breaker Bow" - a little too accurate if you ask me. After all, that's how all fairy tales start in Idaho. Boy meets girl. Girl likes boy. Boy buys girl a weapon. Boy and girl live happily ever after. These kids are off to a solid start.

For the record: In subsequent conversations, Morgan has assured me that she and Tyler are "just friends." Which I would believe, except for the minor detail that she keeps telling me how cute she thinks he is. Puppy love is just so complicated.