Because Granny Lou and Papa are here, Noel and I have a chance to get away for a night. We came to Eureka Springs, an oddball enclave of artists, new agers, bikers, ghosts, and wedding parties.
On the way we drove through a lightning storm and downpour, even pulling over for awhile when it was coming down too hard to see much. We got a phone call from my folks while we were still driving with the somewhat disturbing news that the power had gone out -- the one thing Archer gets anxious about whenever there's a thunderstorm warning. Later when we called again, we caught them on the way to the kids' swim lesson, and found that the power was also out at the Hendrix Aquatic Center.
We had a nice stroll around the streets of the city and a terrific dinner at a little dive bar. When we got back to the hotel, I nervously called again. I hated to think that I had left the grandparents with the kids at the precise moment their routine was about to be disrupted by a combination of disappointment (their last swim lesson canceled) and fear (bedtime with no nightlights or radios).
How relieved I was to hear that everything was back to normal. The swim lesson went on as planned, and their teachers praised them to the skies for their efforts. Back at the house, all the lights were on. And as Archer told me, "We played the fastest game of Sorry on record. We just zipped around the board and into Home. And I won the game." (Cady Gray: "We played Sorry and Granny Lou was the yellow pieces. I was blue, and I won! Actually, everyone was a winner.")
Although we're only a few hours away, and although Archer is a lot more flexible than he was when he was younger, it's still a little nerve-racking to leave him. We've grown used to anticipating his needs and thinking in his terms that sometimes we forget that there's anything unusual about him at all. And then we go for a walk with his grandparents, and he spends twenty minutes quoting from the Mario Kart Wii instruction manual, and we remember.
It's good to be child-free for twenty-four hours. But it will be good to be back where we belong, too, taking care of the children who need us.