“Hey, Mom, look!”
“There!” My son’s arm outstretched through the window into the dry desert air.
“What is that?” I could not see clearly with the blackened sky and city lights at our back.
“I think it is…uh a…telescope…a big one!”
“I think you are right. Let’s go find out.”
He was satisfied with that reply and I could see the grin spread across his face when I looked in the rear view mirror to pull into the middle turn lane. All I could do was let them see the telescope. I did not have any money to spend being a single mom of three. My daughter was fast asleep. I contemplated whether I should wake her or leave her in the car while we stepped out for a few to look. Now my second son was seeing what my oldest and I were looking at and getting excited too.
“Now you know mom does not have any money beyond the money we are going to use at Waffle House, right? I do not know what this costs, but if they charge to look in the telescope, we just cannot do it, OK?”
“OK, mom. We understand.” I felt bad that they had to understand adult shit at such a young age. I was thankful though that they were good kids and whether they really understood or not, did not give me any trouble. They patiently accepted their lot in this life. I sure was lucky to have them. I had seen my fair share of brats in my life.
“Can we get out?” They chimed as soon as I turned off the car.
“Wait! Let me get your sister first.”
I unpacked my daughter from her car seat and hoisted her high on my shoulder so I could finagle the keys and lock the doors. We walked over to the huge white telescope that was longer than my minivan. I was happy to see that they had it connected to a laptop that was displaying everything the telescope found in the vast heavens onto a big makeshift screen made of a white sheet against a brick wall. Free! I can relax now and actually enjoy my kids getting to see the world.
“Ohhhh mom!!! Look,” my oldest son yelled when the telescope focused on a crater on the moon.
“Yea! Cool, huh?” My animated voice woke up my daughter who sat up and looked around and found nothing that interested her little self more than the comfort of her mom’s chest and laid back down, but awake.
“Hey, dudes! You want to look in the telescope,” a bearded hippie asked my boys.
Turning to me for approval, “mom?”
“Sure, go ahead, but be careful.”
My second son was too short so he had to step up on a stool with three steps to position his eye over the black L shaped scope. My oldest son, in his chivalrous manner, had let his brother go first and waited for his turn. He was tall enough to not need the stool. I was enjoying the arid land that back dropped the screen. The tumbleweeds danced with the breeze coming off Catalina Mountains and the quartz in the boulders glistened from the city lights dotting Tuscon south of us. I admired the enthusiasm and beautiful smiles and eyes of my boys. I felt comforted that my daughter was still young enough to need my arms to hold her. All was good in life.
“Mom, I want to be a meteorologist,” my oldest said with joy.
“I want to be a scientist. Who studies the stars,” my second son queried.
“Well, that is what I want to be. An astronomer.”
“Great! You all can be whatever you want to be. You are smart enough to do anything. Just be sure you do what you love.”
“I love that telescope,” my second son said.
After I chuckled a bit at him, I asked, “Are we ready to go eat at Waffle House?”
A resounding “Yes” filled the air; even my daughter had the alertness to react to that. We were on a joy “high”; chatted, laughed and breathed more relaxed. It was a break from the usual stress of working hard to keep us sheltered and fed. My lightness gave them permission to be free; to be kids. The tension was gone and they could feel it.
We found a table for all of us near the window of Waffle House. This Waffle House had a great deal of “face” pancakes for kids at $2.00 a plate on Fridays. It was my special treat for the kids to start off our weekends. Saturdays and Sundays would be spent at the pool at our apartment; a nice luxury that was offered at nearly every apartment complex in Arizona. The kids decided on what toppings they wanted their “face” to be made from. I spanned the menu trying to decide on eggs or pancakes. I felt the phone vibrate in my pocket. I had turned it off when we were at StArizona. I slipped it out of my pocket and looked down to see it was him.
Why the hell is he calling now? Damn! It is like he knows we are having a good time and wants to ruin it. You know what, ‘fuck it’! He can wait to spew his hatefulness and bullshit! My kids are having fun and he is not going to ruin it! I click to hang up the call and put it back on silent; without vibration.
“Who is it, mom,” my oldest, and intently aware, son asked.
“Ah, it is just a friend from work. I can call her later. I want to hear what you were saying about the cumulus clouds.” I tried to be conscious of my facial expressions and energy; giving no hint that I was lying and really ready to unleash my fury on their dad.
“OK.” He smiled and continued.