The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

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On the night she had set aside, they came in out of the rain, smelling of the damp and their dinners…

You would think that after eight years of watching soccer practices from the sidelines, I’d remember: it gets cold earlier than you expect.

Eight years ago, I sat in this same spot, except then I had a first grader on the field, a preschooler doing somersaults around my camping chair, and an infant who was usually attached to a boob. Actually, I don’t think I had a camping chair back then. Camping chairs came later, when I got a tiny bit smarter.

Not smart enough to wear jeans, though. Or a sweatshirt. Jeesh.

I’m glad my kids like sports. None of them are super sporty, though the middle one does a mean back handspring, but they’ve all dabbled in team sports and are better for it. Their biggest handicap, I always notice, is their parents’ lack of sports enthusiasm. M and I are supportive of our kids’ sports, but you’d never catch us watching a game of anything on TV. We aren’t really interested. And when our kids find themselves running the wrong way on a field or gym floor, that’s why—their parents have never sat down and watched any games with them.

We did attend one Superbowl party. It was the one with Janet Jackson and her wardrobe malfunction, which everyone in the room missed because we were eating crab dip and talking about books.

And we did go to a couple basketball games last year. Or was it the year before? There’s a college right down the proverbial road and there are games there, and a few times we’ve managed to pack everyone up and go. We buy hot dogs and cheer whenever a goal is scored. We get very excited.

Oh, this is ridiculous. I have goosebumps everywhere. I’m wearing a skirt and T-shirt and sunglasses and I feel like I’ve fallen into a dark and dismal ocean.

I’ve replaced my sunglasses with regular glasses in the hopes that if it doesn’t seem so dark, I won’t feel so cold.

This is the end of a very long week. The boys go back to school next Tuesday. Today was the last day I had to leave them to their own devices while I trooped off to work. And I love being able to walk out of the house with a carefree “Bye! Do your chores!” but it’s not really so carefree. There is guilt. And worry. And I know they’re fine—they tell me so and they are thriving with so little adult supervision (I come home to complicated safes made of Legos, weight-lifting equipment made from recycling, and huts made of sticks and hay rope) but, still, I remain convinced that I am doing this all wrong.

Now I have four days of holiday weekend to imprint lasting summertime memories in their smooshy brains. We are going to hike, swim, order pizza, watch Doctor Who, bounce on a trampoline, have a barbecue, and sweep the kitchen floor. We might even play a game of soccer. It’s going to be amazing.

Nope. Changing glasses didn’t help. Still damn cold.

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