Tonight we sit at the dining room table around scrap paper and baskets of coloured pencils. I read from our history book, about Constantinople and St Nicholas. Then I read The Story of the Amulet, about magic and time travel and sand fairies. While I read, the others draw. M draws carefully, a small girl at a fancy party, the room decorated with swirls and chandeliers. P draws rainbows, bold, big lines, then cuts the colours into strips. She draws a storm, pink and red, cut with tiny scissors. J draws two pages of flagpoles, each with a flag copied from her geography game. Beautiful bold, perfectly accurate flags in rows. Phil first draws a round boy with a round mouth and big belly, but the girls think he is a mushroom or a pregnant woman, so then he draws a hockey player, designs a jersey, adds all the details of his childhood drawings. The girls are mesmerized. Refuse to leave after the story is done. In awe of their artist father.
When J comes skipping across the basketball court after school today, she announces, with wide arms that today was the best day ever, then promptly flops to the dirt, off balance from all that enthusiasm. She explains that she can tell which are the good days and which are the bad days by the weight of her backpack. On bad days, even an empty backpack is too heavy to drag. On good days, her bag filled with weights feels light like feathers.
M lies in bed with a headlamp on her forehead, reading for hours,a small pajama clad spelunker.