The first 90 minutes of my day today perfectly illustrate the potent combination of randomness and emotion that defines my current life.
Whit emerged from his room wearing his Tonka tee shirt, shorts, a plastic Police helmet, and wielding a paper towel roll that had clearly been repurposed as a gun. He leapt out into the hall (I was sitting at my desk, right there) with the kind of energy and frantic gun-pointing that I associate with the Law & Order folks breaking into an apartment that the dangerously armed perp might still be hiding in.
After Eggo waffles, Whit begs to bring his paper towel roll gun to camp and I refuse. “But it’s just cardboard, mummy!” he pleads. I give him a “don’t BS me” glare and he huffs, “Okay, fine! But I want it here when I get home!” before throwing it down by the door.
Grace made her own fashion statement today in pink madras bermuda shorts and a size 2T Elmo tee shirt (both short and snug). Adequately sartorially styled, the three of us piled into the car to go to Starbucks and then camp. I almost don’t need to mention, so regular an occurence has it been this summer: it is pouring.
As Whit is climbing into the car, slipping around in his too-small hand-me-down rainboots (I encouraged him to wear crocs, he insisted on the boots, more on that later) I scooped out of his seat a handful of puffy My Little Pony stickers that had been favors at last weekend’s birthday party. I shoved them into the pocket of my raincoat to surreptitiously throw away, gambling that he had forgotten about them.
After Starbucks and the drive-through ATM, we head to Grace’s camp. She is singing along with alarming comfort to the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.” I asked her how she knows every single word and she shrugs, “We sing this at camp.” When did she turn into a teenager? Glancing in the rearview mirror, I see her long, tanned legs dangling towards the floor and feel as though I can see her fourteen year old self in her six year old body.
“Gracie, you know how we are going out for a special dinner tonight at the American Girl Doll store? With Caroline and her mummy?”
“Yes, today is the day!” (she had been counting down, no joke, on an hourly basis since I told her about this plan on Monday).
“Well, do you mind if we go a few minutes early and you do one errand with me?”
“Oh, mummy, I’d be delighted!” Again with the mini adult language.
After we drop Grace off, Whit and I head over to his camp. This is across town and takes a surprisingly long time in the rush hour traffic. As we sit at a red light, Landslide comes on the radio. I am flooded with emotions, and tears fill my eyes. Thoughts run through my head about change, people growing older, life moving ahead, and how much I fear uncertainty and the unknown. I reach over and pull on a pair of big shades (I always have one at the ready, part of my wrinkle mania), never mind the pouring rain.
Whit is happily oblivious to my little emotional attack in the front seat. I am navigating through back streets like the local I am, avoiding as many lights as possible, peering through my tears and my dark glasses, when I hear, “Hey, Mummy! Good way to go!” This causes a laugh to break through my sudden gloom. My son is opining on the best way to snake through Cambridge so as to avoid traffic and lights. For some reason this strikes me as hilarious.
When we arrive at camp, Whit pitches a small fit that he doesn’t have his crocs on. He whines, loudly, “Oh, mummy, you are just not a good mummy! You forgot to bring my crocs!” I grit my teeth and continue pulling him by the hand through the crowded parking lot, choosing not to even rise to the bait. They know how to pull the strings, these children of mine! Moments after arriving at the purple room he is happily scampering around in sock feet. Fine.
And now I am staring out the window at the downpour, thinking about how every hour of my life seems to contain an amalgam of puffy stickers, venti nonfat lattes, and crashing waves of emotion and melancholy.
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?