There are times — few and much too far between — when Step-son, Step-daughter, and I are on our own all day and we actually enjoy one another’s company the whole time. In the months before I married their dad (when they’d been without a mom for a startlingly long stretch), those days seemed to occur more often; now, I’m lucky if I get two or three a year. Last night, I had one.
I’ve been spending a ludicrous amount of time on the computer lately, and they’ve both been undeniably teenager-y. Plus, it’s summer, and it’s been kind of a stretch to get us all in one place at the same time. But last night was nice. I made a real supper, and we sat around the table visiting while we ate it. Step-son just returned from a trip upstate working with his grandpa, and he brought back a healthy sum of money for a kid; we were looking forward to making a nighttime trip to the local Wal-Mart so he could spend some of it.
I remember fondly that oh-my-god-we-have-a-shit-ton-of-money giddiness when I was a kid. I think I’ve written about it here before. But it’s almost as much fun, almost as awesome and hopeful and huge — to be party to it as an adult. Of course, our little family isn’t poor, and we’re a two parent household, even if one of us is only here by marriage. But in the past, the kids have seen some shitty days, and I’m sure they’re a lot like every other person on the planet who’s lived through crap: whether you want to or not, you carry some of it around with you for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky, the bad days behind you only serve to make you appreciate the good ones more.
More than anything, I hope one day that’s how they feel about their lives.
So we’re not in dire financial straits at the moment, but they remember pretty clearly what that was like. And despite their ages, I think they also have enough of the little kid mentality remaining that they see a small amount of money and imagine a thousand amazing things that it could buy. Frankly, I’m pretty surprised we didn’t head straight for the candy aisle (or the ice cream), but the kids went in with a mission. We took our time wandering around and dreaming a bit while we shopped, but we left with an entirely reasonable haul.
After we spent a little of our money on shoes, school supplies, bananas, and the 750th fidget spinner of the summer, we got in the car to head for home. I was just beginning to wonder about a possible trip to Dairy Queen, when Step-daughter spotted the bright pink remains of the sunset half-hiding behind Wal-Mart. I hurriedly turned right out of the parking lot instead of left and whipped the car behind the building. We pulled over and all of us leaped out with our cell phones, each determined to get the best picture. (We do that sometimes — it’s all about the bragging rights.)
Step-son managed to get the most contrast-y and hot pink tones with his camera, but I’d like to think I got more variety. Regardless, as we drove home, they were both resetting their phone’s wallpapers, talking about editing tools, and enjoying the company.
No one even mentioned it when we drove past the ten stinky cow and pig farms on our way back to the house. I’d like to believe that it was a night so perfect they didn’t even notice.