Dinner was late; my plan to bake a chicken was thwarted by a conversation that ran long. Doing the what-to-make scramble, I grabbed a package of ground beef from the freezer, a box of linguine noodles and fixings for a halfway-homemade sauce.

“Can we do the beds?” I asked.

Sean looked at me, he was tired, but he nodded. “Yep, let’s do it.” We’d agreed to deconstruct the bunk beds so that the girls’ room could get refreshed and so that maybe, just maybe, Ave would be able to make her bed. The top bunk, as Bethany can attest, is challenging on the best day, debilitatingly maddening on the worst.

“I bumped my head and my finger is bleeding.” Ave and I have both said this on separate occasions about making the top bunk. I have long since given up trying to cajole her into making it. Honestly, you can’t see it. “Just move the covers toward the pillow so they don’t hang off the bed, ok babe?” I say. Most days I try not to look up as I pass the room.

“Thanks.” We set about rearranging the room. The girls sequestered themselves in Briar’s room, my earlier warning to, “Give us some space, because you know we sometimes get frustrated when we take the beds apart” having done its job. It was a pretty easy 45 minutes.

I let Sean know how grateful I was that he’d humored me, because I think it would be safe to say that we reconfigure the girls’ rooms on a quarterly basis. “No, problem,” he said, “Just keep the hardware handy for 3 weeks from now when they want to put’em back together.” We both laughed.

“Girls, dinner!” I called, their response the thundering sound of them launching off of their beds and toward the stairs, elbowing and shouting the be the first down.

We talked about the day until Ave exclaimed, “Oh, thank you for getting the lacrosse sticks for us. And thank you for taking us skiing.” Finley chimed in, “Thanks for renting Strawberry Shortcake for me.” Avery titled her head, “Thank you for setting up time for us to play at the Dome.”

“Ok, girls, thank you for saying thanks, but how about the things that don’t cost money. Dad does stuff that doesn’t have to do with spending money.”

Avery nodded, “Yes, for that too.”

I had a worried smile, wanting to protect us from going down a path that was “things” focused, leaving time and consideration in the shadows. How do we help them appreciate the significance of spending time on their rooms or rough housing as dinner cooks?

Finley said, “Yes, exactly the stuff that doesn’t cost.” We all turned to watch her. Her face lit up, the unmistakable light of an idea and knowing that she is being heard.

“How about we say thanks for how Dad got the stuff to mom for Avery to be born.”

And, scene.