Yesterday I went to pick my kids up from school and while I was standing there in the dampish cold, hoping they would get bored and want to go home soon, Coen suddenly was crying in my arms.
His classroom (1-3 grade) Guinea Pig, Spot, had died. Spot was Coen's classroom guinea pig for the past three years. She lived with us for two winter breaks and all last summer. Coen loved Spot. And Lucy has been telling everyone that she too wants to be in Ms. Wendy's class so she can take Spot home during summer.
I took my sad kids home and of course it was Monday which means (cue extremely foreboding music) homework night. Coen sat hard in his desk and resignedly opened his homework folder while I doled out granola bars. The writing portion was to write about his worst day ever.
"I'm writing about today!" Coen said. He wrote:
My friends sat away from me.
I didn't know what to do. I got bored.
I waited too long to do my research.
Then I was out side and I found out my favorite school pet died.
He fought his way through 1/2 of the math and then declared himself to be done for the night. But then he noticed that the weekly "grace and courtesy" lesson was about animals. Coen decided to ask our neighbor if we could walk her dog. She agreed and we took little miniature Schnauzer Lt. Dan for a walk. Coen walked her, picked up her excrement, had a fabulous time.
"This turned my night around!" He said enthusiastically as Lieutenant Dan ran Coen towards his house. He went straight back to his homework folder and wrote about it before dinner.
After we ate, the kids decided to make each other Christmas presents and went separately to their rooms and worked behind closed doors. I hid each of their homemade gifts when they were done and we had a candlelight service for spot before bed. We sat in the hallway, lights off, candle burning with a picture of Spot on my phone and talked about what a great guinea pig she was.
It's not always easy. Homework is no fun. Guinea pigs die far too quickly. Sometimes our friends don't want to sit with us. Sometimes our kids don't want to do their homework and complain about spaghetti for dinner that you already made.
But sometimes something nice happens. Sometimes you make something nice happen. And that makes all the difference.
Both my children went to bed much happier than when they came home. That was a lovely thing.