Yesterday it was windy. And I hate the wind, bc that’s what normal people do. And so naturally I just wanted to stay inside, let the kids watch t.v., or whatever needed to happen so that I could be productive when out of nowhere, something took over me. I asked Beau if he wanted to go to the park and he responded, “YES!!” with great enthusiasm as did Selah who at the sound of “Park”, started yelling, “slide, slide, slide!” which actually sounds like, “LIDE!, LIDE!, LIDE!” She then pulled every coat that was not hers, and some that were hers, off the rack, until she found the one that I guess she wanted because she brought it to me, at this point crying with excitement, “LIDE!…… LIDE!!!”. Not cute crying, like tears of joy, girlfriend was melting down because she wanted that slide so bad she couldn’t stand it. And also because last time I mentioned the park she got excited and then we changed the plan and didn’t go, so basically she is just waiting to have her hopes and dreams ripped from her chubby toddler grasp.
After Selah regained her composure, I realized my phone is out of battery, and Beau found his 3 ft long nerf gun, we were ready. Selah, because she loves me and wants me to be happy, loves her stroller and that is something to note for no particular reason other than it makes things easier. And during this season, we take the easy and proclaim it. So I pushed her and Beau and I walked and life walked good. Like damn good, like the good that makes you wonder what kind of a maniac would ever have spent this afternoon inside doing dishes and unloading Target bags, when this life was available to them outside their front door.
Half way through the walk Beau asked if we can just go to the closer park, half the distance of the original destination. I was thinking the same thing because serene or not, it was windy and witching hour so how far did I really want to be from home? But because he suggested it out loud, and I suggested it just in my head, I began to worry that he didn’t have the stamina. I spun out for a couple moments about cancer because that is what one does on lazy afternoon walks. Can he handle the longer walk? Should I make him do it? Why is he tired already? Do his bones ache? Is that the chemo? Or is he relapsing? If he relapses, will we do CarT or Bone Marrow? What’s the next sign going to be? How soon will we know? Does Jude have Leukemia too, bc he had those bruises on his shins? Should we go straight to CarT with Jude? How will he handle chemo? I pulled out of the spiral just long enough to agree that we should go to the closer park, but not before walking through Beau’s relapse and Jude’s diagnosis, both fictitious.
Our neighborhood has many mature trees and as such, leaves like you’ve never seen leaves before. I grew-up on a farm where there were plenty of large cottonwood trees, but their leaves fell into open fields and irrigation ditches, so the accumulation wasn’t noticed. Then for a minute I lived in Stapleton which, at the time, didn’t have a single tree planted before Obama became President and as such the leaves were limited and small. Our last house was in an older neighborhood, but for whatever reason there were not a lot of trees, and many of those that were there we not deciduous.
Let us all take a moment and notice that I just pulled that vocabulary term out of a hidden pocket of my brain from the 5th grade, damn kids, stay.in.school. Also, Mrs.Fox, your efforts to teach me 5th grade science WERE.NOT.IN.VAIN.
Anyway, back to this neighborhood, back to today. Our neighborhood is a deciduous forrest. Each lot has 3-5 trees, and the lots are close, making the area dense with vegetation. And the trees are mature, 30 years old on average, most of them being Red Maples. Can we just take a moment and speak to how many damn leaves ONE Red Maple Tree has? Wow. It’s incredible. This summer I was jumping on the trampoline with Jude and we laid down for a minute and just stared up at the maple above us. It was overwhelming to consider the sheer number of glistening leaves. They were numerous and beautiful. The other day as we left our cul-de-sac I stopped the car and made everyone stare at one particular maple that had no less that 5 colors in it’s leaves all at once (red, orange, yellow, light green, and dark green.) Days later we had a hard free and it muted all of the rich fall colors into burnt oranges and browns, but it’s fine because we stopped and took notice and I am just absolutely sure my kids will remember that moment forever.
Where were we? Oh right, so we were on a walk, with a stroller holding an agreeable toddler, cruising streets filled with ample leaves, wondering if there could be a better life. And it was windy, mind you, so more leaves were falling, and it felt like a winter wonderland except fall. Leaves were crunching with every step and I wished I had my phone so I could take a video and send it to my college roommate who I know loves good leaf crunching. But I didn’t have my phone, so I pondered for a minute if not having my phone and being forced to just sit with the memory, is better or worse then being able to send her a video of it, “See? I’m remembering.”
I pushed Selah’s stroller through a large pile of leaves that had gathered on the street’s edge and she was thrilled. “More..More…” She squealed while pointing one finger to the left side of her nose; a hand movement which is not actually the sign for “more”, but somehow has been adopted by her anyway. The way she confidently owns her inaccurate sign-language gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside that I try my best to hold on to, but fizzles quickly as Beau points his 3 foot nerf gun like a sniper at a lady walking her dog across the street.
“Beau, put the gun down…and don’t aim it at people.” I whisper yell, hoping that the wind muffled my voice and the passerby couldn’t hear me.
“What kind of a sniper doesn’t point his gun directly at his target??” Beau shouts, clear as freaking day, as he pulls the trigger and the imaginary recoil almost takes him off his feet.
When Beau was younger, under one, and afternoon was spent at grandma’s and his cousins had built an arsenal of guns out of K’nex toys. When they offered the tiniest one to Beau, made especially for his tiny hands, I made sure to tell them that “We don’t play with guns,” and it must shoot butterflies and rainbows. Yup, I did that. And now, my son just sniped a neighbor with a 3 ft BRIGHT ORANGE nerf gun. And I say all that to just point out that parenting is the fastest path to hypocrisy. And I care, because I am an Enneagram 1, and we care about these kind of moral truths. And I don’t care because I am tired.
Where was I, right, ok, Selah is pointing at her nose, which means nothing and everything. And Beau is pretending to snipe a neighbor which I don’t even know if that is an ok thing to do. In this day and age, is my kid allowed to fake snipe a neighbor with a 3ft nerf gun? How long do I keep telling him not even to pretend to aim the empty gun at someone. I mean, really? Should I also tell him it shoots butterflies, not bullets? It started as no guns, then don’t shoot at people’s, then not at their faces. It’s been a slow, enjoyable slide.
We finally got to the park, spent some time trying to convince Selah to go down the “LIDE!”, which she wouldn’t, naturally. So, I forced her to go down it with me because I was just sure that she didn’t realize that this slide was the “LIDE!” she had been screaming about earlier. Which, naturally, ended with her crying and throwing bark chips with great furry. Beau sniped a couple more people and their dogs and then we decided to head home.
“LIDE!” Selah who had fully recovered, cried as we walked from the park, contorting her body to be able to point toward the slide she wanted nothing to do with.
Halfway home, Selah wanted to trudge herself through the leaf embankments that I had pushed her through on the way to the park. “Out! Out!” And since I was feeling it, I was like, ‘Oh ya, this is perfect, how fall! How in the moment, yes!’
Beau and I sat on the curb while Selah trudged back and forth trough the deep maple leaves. Beau told Selah a car was coming and because Selah is a doll face, right away she scurried to the curb and sat next to Beau, hands pressed unnaturally together in-between her legs and they watched the car pass. Then back at it. She trudged, we watched, car, scurry. She trudged, we watched, he sniped, car, scurry. She trudged, we watched, snipe, car, scurry.