Imperfection Perfection

Words by Sloane Citron

My daughter Talia had the big idea for us to “get out of Dodge” and head somewhere, anywhere, just to see some different scenery for a few days. She decided that Tahoe would be a good place to go—a new view and feel, but still drivable. She spent time looking for just the right place, since it needed to hold the 13 of us: my wife and I, our three older children, their three spouses and their collective five children, all under the age of two. The only one not making it was my son Coby, the youngest of our crew, who lives in Israel and decided that the drive to Tahoe would be too long.

Talia searched and found a wonderful home on the 13th hole of Old Greenwood in Truckee. With six bedrooms, a hot tub, access to a lovely swimming pool and golf right in our backyard, it was really the perfect place.

So we set out one smoke-clogged day in three SUVs crammed with car seats, child paraphernalia and our own stuff. We drove into increasingly hostile air, but nothing could stop us from enjoying this time. I had not been away since December, probably the longest that I’d ever stayed in one bed in my entire life. When we arrived at our lovely destination, I felt a real joy at being away from the repetition that had become the norm.

We unloaded and gazed at our incredible view overlooking the lush, tree-lined golf course, excited that we were to play it the following day. All of us boys love golf, including my 22-month grandson who repeats the words “golf” and “ball” incessantly, never lets go of his blue plastic golf club and was immediately mesmerized by the passing golfers as they hit their approach shots to the 13th green.

We played golf, swam, visited the lake, went into town and really had a wonderful time. Though the air was not great, it was so refreshing to be somewhere else, to feel, for a brief reprieve, a certain normalcy. Each night, once all the children were fed and in bed (not necessarily sleeping), we set up dinners, some of which we cooked ourselves and some of which were takeout. We brought and bought a lot of food, more than I could have imagined we would eat, but we finished it all.

I’m fortunate that my children-in-law are substantive, caring young people who fit in perfectly with our family. We’ve taken many trips together, but this was the first with so many children— ages 22 months, 21 months, 10 months, 3 months and 1 month. All in diapers, needing naps and to be fed, the three youngest very demanding of their mothers for milk. There was constant bedlam—which I loved—since one or more of the kids was in some sort of calamitous situation at all times, crying, pooping, falling, hungry or tired. To me there is a perfect harmony to this chaos, a natural and beautiful rhythm that is the sound of life, bucolic and precious. I’ve always enjoyed the boisterous nature of a lot of children together; it’s a true symbol of joy and holiness.

Since there was only one of me—Saba, as I am known—I was on call all of the time, reading books, setting up equipment, calming down crying infants, playing, napping, walking and carrying them or helping in other ways. It was great, reminding me of the busy times when we had four children of our own under the age of seven.

Talia had the cute idea of getting matching t-shirts for the kids that said, “LOVE MY CREW,” and then it came time to take a photo of the five of them with their shirts on. We went down to the golf course and in between groups, we ran onto the grass for five frantic minutes, trying to capture the perfect picture before some errant golf ball landed on one of us. After many attempts at this, it was clear that  the perfect picture was not going to happen. It seemed an impossible task to get five children under the age of two to all look at the camera, stay still, not cry, stay upright and smile.

The photo’s imperfections played to the reality of our trip. With all involved and so many personalities and the pandemonium of the children, the reality of imperfection was its essence. And that, maybe, is what made it such a wonderful trip. Its imperfections were its beauty, its own particular perfection