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The Boomerang Principle

May 5, 2005

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was one of those cloudy days in April that could be a November day if you let yourself believe it. Rain and wind and then sleet. When the snow started up I did believe it. I hollered for the kids and they came running. Get your homework, I told them. The show starts in five minutes. It's Family Time in the kitchen. I'll cook while you work.

I made pierogies with potatoes and cheese, a recipe from my grandmother on my father's side, while the kids — without protest, to my surprise — spread out their worksheets and went to town. I turned the radio up enough so we could all listen. There's something cozy about having everyone at the table when the wind is blowing snow against the windows and Robin and Linda are singing away about leaving on trains. It made me think of Mr. Sundberg who left last Wednesday for a two-week trip out west. There were two days in the middle when he could have come home but I talked him into staying out there and having some fun. He has friends down in Yuma and planned to visit their ranch and maybe stay an extra day in Las Vegas.

Anyway, we listened while the pierogies baked and I helped the kids with their homework. I'm not much good when it comes to math so we got out the calculator and managed to get through the sections on fractions and then a couple pages on verb usage. Young people have so many questions. There were the usual ones about vocabulary ("What does ambivalent mean?") and books they're to report on ("I don't get what they mean by plot. She just wrote words in her webs and saved a pig's life. Is that the plot?"). They asked questions about the show, too. "How come so many songs are about love?" and "Does Mr. Keillor have a house in Lake Wobegon?" and "What are the 'blues' and how do you know if you have 'em?" and "Don't you think they should do a commercial about candy? Everybody loves candy and I bet in Lake Wobegon there's about five candy stores."

They finished up their homework and I served up the pierogies, which did not go over well at all. "What are these?" "What's inside them? What are those pieces of green?" "I'm not eating them. They don't have a taste and I would rather have scrambled eggs." So I threw the pierogies in the freezer for Mr. Sundberg and made some scrambled eggs and toast and sat down with the kids. I didn't mind so much. They'd finished their homework a day early and the pierogies I made not to eat as much as I made them for the making. If that makes sense.

So they ate and Prudence sang "I'll Be Seeing You" and the kids got quiet when I joined in:

I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces all day through
In that small café, the park across the way
The children's carousel, the chestnut trees, the wishing well

"Is this a love song?" one of them asked. Yes, I said, it is. I explained that it didn't have to be about men and women. It could be a song a mom sings to her kids. "Yeah, but we don't have any chestnut trees around here." Well, I would substitute "maple" for chestnut, I said.

When Prudence sang the chorus for the final time I got a bit tearful and got up to clear the table.

I'll find you in the mornin' sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you

"Are you crying, Mom?" the kids asked. I was thinking about how they'd each have their own kitchen table one day and how nice it is to have them around even when they ask questions I can't answer and refuse to eat pierogies and misplace their socks. You can't hold on to much in life unless you put it in a box and duct tape it shut, and you just can't do that with your kids. And who wants to do it with anything, really. Nope. I grew up learning the Boomerang Principle. Fling it all out there and if things work right, it'll all come back. You just wait and see.

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