The calendar of kids.
Overheard outside a local movie theater: "What am I going to do with these kids!"
It was early in school vacation week, and two boisterous young boys were nipping at their mother's heels - and getting on her nerves - already.
You have to sympathize. She was just saying aloud what many think, especially with February play days yawning ahead, competing with the adult workaday world of chores, wishes and worries.
Most of us have been there, when all of a sudden it occurs to us the kids are constantly underfoot. Against all reason, they're hungry for lunch again, they're asking a question - again.
They're fleeting aggravations, of course, but they remind us: Parenthood is a very long commitment, with no vacation. Occasionally the role of mom or dad is spectacular, surprising and unforgettable. But most of the time, it consists of little moments and choices, stretched out to the horizon, or at least bedtime.
As endless as our time with them can seem in the thick of things, the calendar of kids is numbered. We get a finite number of such weeks as this, and we need to spend them well.
That mother and her sons melted into the dark theater with their popcorns and drinks, and settled in for two hours of "We Bought A Zoo."
The answer to her question, of course - "What am I going to do with these kids!" - is so easy. Love them.
Whether you're doing something big, small, or medium like the movies, do it with love.
Our homes and families are our own exhausting, exhilarating zoo. We bought it, and it's ours to keep. For now.
Eventually, the calendar turns, and the young ones fly the coop. We hope they carry with them countless small memories, each containing a ton of love.