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They Call it Stormy Monday

We'ev Got a Lot of Kids

But Tuesday’s just as bad. The only thing I’ve ever had against Sunday is that it’s followed by Monday, and nothing good has ever happened on Monday, throughout recorded history. I’ve confirmed this through personal research, decades of devout drinking. But eventually the research went into the ditch, like it often does; I was compelled to abandon it entirely.

Wednesday is worse, and Thursday’s also sad. The kids line up at the bathroom sink to brush their hair and teeth, and I wet a washcloth to scrub their faces in turn, streaked with backyard playground dirt and sticky-red Hi-C moustaches, rendering judgments on unfortunate choices of clothing. My decision, which is final, is that there will be no football gear or pink taffeta tutus worn to church at this time.

The eagle flies on Friday; Saturday I go out to play. We are always five minutes late. As I gun the minivan up Monument Road, waving to the regular Sunday morning walkers, my wife Maria applies eyeliner expertly in the visor mirror while simultaneously shushing our girls who have apparently devised a method of insulting one another using some sort of sign language; fully-developed fights erupt seemingly from friction in thin air.

Sunday I go to church, then I kneel down and pray. Our four kids are seated between my wife Maria and I, fidgeting, as our parish priest delivers an expert and quite engaging homily on personal salvation. Not one word of Father’s homily makes the slightest impression on our kids. He might as well be saying "rutabaga" earnestly, repeatedly. While the adults and most of the children in the pews are uniformly attentive, to our kids Father makes a sort of a faint buzzing noise when he speaks.

While our minds are preoccupied with heaven, the kids drum on the backs of the pews, pull each other’s hair, draw erratic self-portraits rendered in golf pencil in the hymnals, crawl over the kneelers with their buddies and a few plastic dinosaurs, and take off their shoes. And their socks.

At the altar Father silently raises the cup to heaven. In the quiet, a baby screams. From another part of the sanctuary another, separate baby cries: answering the call of the wild. Father forges ahead, delivering the consecration slowly and evenly despite the bleating infant tag-team. I suspect seminaries teach masters classes on crying babies.

After the final verse of the final hymn including the final notes of the rather long instrumental coda, the kids race each other into the social hall, jostling for spots in line for Coffee Hour. Costco muffins, cups of apple juice, plus whatever kind parishioners have brought to share: fruitcake, Goldfish, gluten-free brownies. Often the harvest is plentiful.

They pile their small plates high with quartered muffins, cookies, spoonfuls of Goldlfish; they stuff their cheeks with sweets and then race outside to play.

For the older kids it’s hoops with an underinflated red-white-and-blue basketball that bounces like a sack of potatoes, or pine-cone fights in the Rosary garden.

The five and six-year olds head for the fort in the blackberries, a vacant spot in the thicket where there aren’t blackberries, or most importantly, parents, and they climb into a low, little tree and discuss things.

My wife Maria and I catch up with our friends over muffins and coffee, and from time to time a breathless kid will run in with news that Alec slipped in the dog poop, or with one of their buddies in the slipstream, pleading earnestly, can we please have a playdate today?, gripping us with icy fingers, their cheeks red from the cold.

Parents appear from around the corner, shrugging their shoulders to say that whatever is arranged might be fine with them, our house or theirs?, and we swap schedules and find a pickup time. We load up the van with kids and head home, or out to brunch, with fresh eyes on the same-old world.

Sunday morning turns to Sunday evening, a school night, with the usual and customary storm forecast for Monday. And Tuesday? It’s just as bad.

* "Call it Stormy Monday (But Tuesday’s Just as Bad)", words and music by T-Bone Walker