AN: Many thanks to Pegasus143/MakPlays for writing some of Hahon, Cadence, and Waikiki’s dialogue.
Leave it to Joel to always help me see that everything is really all right and there’s never much reason to worry.
“Remember how I mentioned that my big brother was always bugging me and my little sister?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Well, Amelia and I decided that we’re developing resilience, insight, and strategy. I’ve already used a lot of what I’ve learned from dealing with my brother at school, and it helps me get along with everybody.”
“I don’t have siblings!” announced Gerald. “And it’s a good thing, too! I think if I ever had any, I’d tell my mom, ‘Take them back to the baby store!’ Plus, what would she want with other kids when she’s got me? I’m the perfect child!”
We all laughed.
“Another thing my sister and I learned,” said Joel, “is to make our own traditions. So we created a tradition that whenever we had a lousy day, we’d do something great the next day to make it a special one.”
I turned to Gerald and Hahon. “What do you want to do tomorrow to make it a special day?”
“I have an idea! Let’s go find some waterfalls! There’s got to be more around the neighborhood!”
“Yes!” said Gerald. “We’ll make it an adventure. But just kids! No big kids or teens and no grown ups!”
“That sounds like a great idea,” I said.
I headed out to see how Tre was doing. He looked pleased with his painting.
“Check it out,” he said.
We looked together at his canvas. There was movement and quiet. I really liked it.
“I wanted to get it all out,” he said, “you know, just express myself. I guess it’s a little wild, but I like it.”
“I do, too,” I said. “It’s interesting. I like how I feel when I look at it.”
Back inside, Gerald was giving Cadence a long hard stare.
“I don’t get it,” Cadence said. “Why is everyone acting all strange? Everyone’s either sad, mad, or tired.”
“Not me,” said Gerald. “I’m stoic.”
“Stoic?” Cadence asked. “I know that word, but I never heard a kid use it. How do you know that word?”
“Oh, I know all sorts of things,” said Gerald.
“Stow it?” asked Waikiki. “Where are you going to stow it? And what are you stowing?”
“Not stow it,” yelled Gerald. “Sto-ick! Haven’t you heard of stoic? Like the ancient Greeks?”
“Sure,” said Waikiki. “I was just messing with you.”
“You remember what happened last time you teased someone,” said Gerald. “He teased you back!”
“I still can’t believe that he called me a woofum!” Waikika complained.
“Wait… that’s why you were grouchy?” Cadence asked.
“Yes!” said Waikiki. “I hate being called names!”
“I love being called names,” said Gerald. “Names like… Perfect Potato Head! Brilliant Bobby! Better than Bosco!”
“Gerald the Genius Ginormous Brainiac!” laughed Waikiki.
“You guys are nuts,” said Cadence.
Gerald, Waikiki, and Cadence headed off to practice a puppet show, and Blake came to keep me company while I cleaned up the kitchen and began fixing up sack lunches for the kids’ adventure the next day.
“Is everybody happy again?” Blake asked.
“I am!” I replied. “How about you?”
“I’m happy here,” Blake said. “That popcorn was delicious.”
“Are you ready for an adventure tomorrow?”
“Of course!” Blake replied. “That’s what camp’s all about, right? Adventures! What are we going to do?”
I told him about the waterfall hunt. “Do you think you’ll be able to find more?”
“Without doubt,” said Blake. “The gneiss formations, combined with the presence of a southern flowing stream, indicate that waterfalls should be quite common in this locale.”
“Have you been reading my geology books?”
After the kids were in bed, while I was waiting for the last batch of cookies to bake, Tre joined me for late-night snack.
“Not a bad day,” Tre said.
“Seriously?” I asked.
“Sure thing!” he replied. “Do you think I would’ve even done a painting today if I didn’t have something I needed to express? But I did! And the painting was really fun to do. And I think it’s not half-bad. All in all, a pretty good day.”