I walk down the walkway away from school, surrounded by small faces. Questions are fired at me faster than I can answer. "What is a hypothesis?" "Where do sycamores grow?" "What does s-o-a-k spell? What does it mean?"
Everyone walks in the door hungry. They are all independent in their own ways. One heats up some of last night's chicken, one makes a jelly sandwich, one asks for crackers, a teenager and her friend make cookies, and is quickly surrounded by siblings, like stray dogs, panting and begging for more.
Three boys are engaged in an all out battle of light sabers, racing through the house, shouting and laughing. One girl is oblivious, curled in a chair engrossed in a book. Another smaller girl is begging her teenaged sister to paint her nails.
Both sides of a dinner table lined with kids. The smallest girl asks to start grace. She begins the Hail Mary, knowing her brother is learning it for his First Communion. The teenager laughs at this with her friend, but passes me a knowing glance... I know her friend has told her she's envious of the fun at our dinnertimes.
A father sits in his recliner, every available inch covered with a child, as he reads from Captains Courageous. One lone child is finishing homework, occasionally shouting out a question, asking for clarification. The smallest child asks for help in finding his favorite pajamas.
A sudden quiet fills the house, as most of the kids are up to bed. It's a palpable silence, magnified by the echoes of shouts and laughter from just moments ago. I grab hold of it, knowing how brief it will be, and thankful for the noise to come in the morning.