It is getting late, but I don’t tell the kids it’s past bedtime. Not tonight.
I wish George could be here, but he’s out of town. When I told him about it, he laughed — the laugh that makes him take off his glasses, wipe his eyes, and then bust out laughing again.
I wash dishes, read the paper and keep an eye on the clock. At 9:45 p.m., I yell, “Nathan, Dawn! Time for bed!”
I hear them planning their plea.
Nathan states his case: “We are playing, not fighting. We aren’t tired and when Daddy is gone you let us stay up late.”
I frown. “It’s already over an hour past bedtime.”
Nathan nods to Dawn. She steps forward, looks up at me and grins, “Pullllleeeeaaaassseeee, Mommy?” She scrunches her face and flutters her eyelashes.
I keep my face solemn and then yell, “MYSTERY TRIP!”
They squeal, attack me with hugs, and run to the drawer to get the blindfolds.
We form a three-person chain and I lead them out the door, down the steps and into the car.
There are giggles and whispers, I watch them in the rearview mirror trying to peek.
Nathan guesses it’s the Drive-in; Dawn guesses Disneyland. They both hope it is not the graveyard again.
We drive through town and onto the highway. I slow down for a county road and then a gravel one. There is nothing but corn fields, stars, and a full moon.
I stop the car and they take off their masks.
“The moon wants to leave. It’s our mission to make her stay.”
Nathan is skeptical, Dawn is excited and scared.
We get out and I yell to the moon. “Please don’t go.” Dawn joins in the yelling.
Nathan stands looking at the moon and is the first to see it. “Mom! It is going away.”
The moon is disappearing, and we all shout and scream until it vanishes. Dawn cries. Nathan is concerned.
I open the trunk. There are capes, wands, and drums.
We drum and dance. Wands float magic into the sky.
And this time we all see it. A growing sliver of light.
The moon is coming back.
The kids tell George about the Mystery Trip. Nathan looked it up and explains the lunar eclipse. But Dawn sides with me and says, “We danced the moon back.” And then they laugh about other mystery trips, and Halloween pranks, and the day I pretended to be an alien.
I have never told why I create mystery trips because no one ever asks. Not even George. Everyone assumes it is for fun and it is. But it is more than that.
Before we were married even good friends worried, “What about the children?” It’s fine for you and George, but your children will suffer. Neither race will accept them.”
My mother-in-law says, “Protect their spirits”.
I’m doing my best. They have us, our families and friends, and the Baha’i community who love them, but I can’t keep them safe forever.
And I can’t make the hatred go away.
So I give them this: Memories that make them laugh so hard they cry, and then laugh again.