There have been a couple of events since the last post: Andy is no longer a toddler, for one thing.
Lately life had become more complicated for the family. The kids were always inviting friends home and while they were welcomed by their parents, dinner sometimes consisted of just grilled cheese or chili, due to tight finances. It got a little crazy at times when there might be 3 or 4 extra kids at dinner. Jenny called it "The After School Madhouse"
This was a typical supper with their friends Lucy Burb, Gareth Caswell and another little townie girl who shall remain nameless. Jenny had to eat in the kitchen.
In a large family, all things seemed to happen around the dinner table. Recently when Larry Max was working evenings, Jenny startled the children by announcing she might have to go away for a week or two to visit her mother in the mountains, who was ill. The children love their grandmother but the thought of their mother being gone for that long really devastated them.
When she saw how upset the children were, Jenny hastily amended that it was only a possibility; that their grandma was doing a little better and if she continued to do so, Jenny would not go at all.
Responsible Mike was worried, though, and mentioned it in passing to Larry Max who was dumbfounded. He had no idea that Jenny's mother was sick. He assured Mike that no one was going to leave the kids to fend for themselves and later on he asked Jenny what the heck she was talking about. Jenny said, "I forgot to tell you about Mom being sick. Anyway, the kids are exaggerating, I only said I MIGHT have to go." Then she changed the subject and flirted with Larry Max and he forgot about it.
In the meantime, Chelsea had a birthday and entered high school. She began to notice things about her mother; things that were different about Jenny from the way she'd always been in their other house. For instance, she was always out and about town. Previously Jenny had been a happy stay-at-home mom and all her hobbies were easily enjoyed in her home; like sewing, painting and pottery. Now the minute the kids were on the school bus, Jenny was continually running the roads. She'd mention to the kids later that she'd spent the day at the park, or went skating or shopping. Nothing wrong with that, but every day? Larry Max was so busy with his job and his greenhouse and fruit trees that he hardly seemed to notice as long as Jenny was there for supper.
Chelsea also noticed that her mother was always trying to meet new people. Now this might not have been surprising since they were still considered the newcomers in tiny Pleasantville, but Chelsea thought it was a bit much that her mother actually RAN out to greet any passerby (especially the men).
It seemed to Chelsea that Jenny was pulling back from the family. Every minute that Larry Max was busy in the greenhouse or working, Jenny was on the phone. Chelsea had to wonder if she was on the phone when they were in school, too. She knew some calls were to her mother's female friends, but then one night, when her father was working, Chelsea saw Jenny whispering and giggling into the phone. Chelsea was clearing the table in the dining room where the phone was and she could HEAR that it was a man! And it sure wasn't her dad. Chelsea was very upset but Jenny did not end the call. She glanced at Chelsea and paused. Chelsea was embarrassed and went into the kitchen. She could hear her mother continue her whispered conversation.
Chelsea quickly loaded the dishwasher and then went through the living room and up the stairs to her bedroom. She tried to forget about it that night by working diligently on her homework, but she kept being reminded of it in the following days as she watched her mother get more and more distant.
Chelsea couldn't help but wonder where it would all end...recently the children found themselves around the dinner table with BOTH of their parents absent (Jenny went off saying she needed some items at the art store, and Larry Max was working). But they had an after-school guest, Jeannie Walton, so they tried to put on a brave front. Chelsea had not been cooking long, so it had to be sandwiches. Of course, Chelsea just happened to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, everyone says so.