They burst through the door, faces red and teeth chattering, proceeded by a dog who hardly feels the cold.
From the couch I directed him to walk the dog to the middle school and meet his sister. Of course we cannot know what may be happening at the other end of those 7/8ths of a mile. Standardized tests and unrequited love create a sorrow not abated by two hours of singing and dancing to the chorus numbers in "Annie."
She goes into the kitchen and her brother and I respond together, as we hear the running water, "Don't put your hands in hot water!"
Discouraged she slumps to the couch and sits as far away as possible. I know something hurts her, something other than bright pink cheeks and fingers.
Emo Boy, of course. She cries, putting her hands over her face.
Sam woofs, asking to be let in, and she slumps over to the door, but only after I ask. He comes into the living room, and she kneels down to pet Molly and Sam licks her face, and she smiles.
But the moment passes, and there are more tears and "I'm going upstairs."
Brother at the bottom of the stairs turns his sensitive ear toward her sobs.
When I had babies, I heard that old advice, "Let them cry it out." I didn't have the heart for it. But at 11, or 45, sometimes we must.