April 7, 2010. The temperature soars to a sizzling 91 degrees today, which feels more like 191 because winter is just barely over, it could still snow yet, and no one in this area is the least bit acclimated to temperatures worthy of mid-August. Spring soccer season begins today and I dutifully deliver Sophie and Peter to the fields for their first practice. For us, spring soccer marks the recommencement of the season, after a prolonged winter break, that began in September. So the kids are happy to be reunited with their teammates, some of which they haven’t seen since late October, and I’m just as happy spending time again with many of my soccer parent chums. As we loosen up around each other after our long hiatus of not having to stand around a soccer field in either boiling or freezing weather, depending on the season, the jokes and jibes begin to fly. “Be nice to me or I’ll call CPS!” someone warns. When Peter drains his water bottle, I joke that I better refill it quick in case CPS is watching. It feels good to be joking about something that only two weeks ago wracked me with tears and robbed me, if only briefly, of that all-important sense of control over my family, over my own destiny. The ordeal’s not yet officially over but we’ve been assured by the investigator that the allegations are being dismissed. It also feels good to know that our friends, fellow parents and townspeople seem to be as outraged over this woman’s impulsive act of retribution as we are. As we huddle in the heat discussing my son’s future, and the school’s inability to address his needs, he darts away from whatever practice activity is occurring because he has an urgent question for me. “Am I 9-year old yet, Mom? Has my birthday for 9 already come to me?” Poor little guy. He can’t remember how old he is (he’s 8 ½) but the school puts him through the charade of doing fractions and discussing geometrical concepts such as “lines of symmetry”. Thankfully unaware of the controversy surrounding him, he happily rejoins his team once I remind him of his age and his birth date and I smile as I watch him zig and zag across the still mostly brown field. Peter’s having a good day and for that I’m grateful. Pat desperately needs to work late tonight and so the kids and I go to the town diner after practice for grilled cheese sandwiches. We sit at the counter, something we never do when Daddy’s with us, and I let the kids take their stools for a few glorious, squeaky spins. Once settled, Sophie draws until our sandwiches arrive, a bumblebee pollinating a tulip, and Peter works on drawing a beautiful Chinese Dragon. All cylinders are firing today, it seems. As the kids color, the waitress, a lovely divorcee, shares tales of spending Spring Break with her teenage son and four of his friends as she breathlessly works the tiny but bustling restaurant. While we walk toward the car I click the unlock button on my key chain and Peter asks, “How you always know the car’s locked, Mom?” I tell him I know because I’m the one who locked it. “Wow, Mom,” he replies. “You can remember that long?” It’s a dose of reality that stops me dead in my tracks. I don’t want to embarrass him so I quickly shake off the chill and pat his newly trimmed head as his smile meets mine. As I buckle the seatbelt, I remind myself to practice more patience and love. Forget about fractions and centimeters and electrons and telling time and identifying verbs. What Peter needs is patience and love.