The five of us were riding in the car on our way to deliver some zucchini bread at a friend’s house. ‘My armpits are really sweaty,’ the Gort announced from the back.
I love times like these. I love the challenge of coming up with something enthusiastic to say about sweaty armpits, and also these little confessions make me chuckle. Because I’m pretty sure he won’t be confessing much of anything in four or five years. ‘That’s great,’ I attempted, ‘it means you’re getting bigger.’ Which is all he wants to hear. Ever. ‘Are your armpits sweaty?’ he turned to his almost three year old brother, ‘because mine are REALLY sweaty.’
We dropped off the bread and drove to a nearby playground. The boys amused themselves with the swings and the slides while we did our best not to pass out from boredom. There were two other couples standing around, absentmindedly watching their kids while the one mom held her newborn son. They were deeply engaged in an almost Seinfeldian discussion about the awesomeness of Pinot Noir and Tempranillo. Loudly.
I don’t think it can be considered eavesdropping when people talk excessively loudly. Especially not about Pinot Noir. On a Sunday afternoon.
We’d been pushing the boys on the swing earlier when another enthusiastic couple showed up and plopped their little girl in the baby swing. She was probably eighteen months old. They pushed her and made all sorts of enthusiastic facial expressions.
‘LOOK AT THE CLOUD’ the mom instructed the little girl. In an obvious, teachable moment sort of way. ‘CAN YOU SAY CLOUD?’ I tried really hard not to laugh because it seemed as though she was talking to an ESL student. Not a little girl who probably couldn’t say cloud. At least not for a few months. Undeterred, the mom tried again ‘CAN YOU SAY CLOUD?’
Anyway, back to the sommeliers-in-training. I couldn’t think of anything witty to say about their conversation, so I stared at the baby instead.
‘Do you miss the newborn stage,’ I asked the professor as we sweltered in the eighty degree heat. ‘Nope,’ he interjected before I could even take a breath. ‘I can’t wait till they’re twelve. I mean, I want to be the same age I am now, I just want them to be twelve.’
Thus spake my sentimental better half. As though it were unfathomable to miss those wonky, sleep-deprived days; carrying around little people who do nothing but poop and sleep and cry.
We were pushing the boys on the swings when, strangely enough, one of the Gort’s Kindergarten classmates showed up. Strange, since neither of them lives in this particular neighborhood. They had an unaffectionate, matter-of-fact reunion of sorts, which involved the Gort asking his friend if he was ready for Grade 1. ‘It’s going to be REALLY hard,’ my eldest informed-reminded his friend. ‘And then we’re going to get to college and that’s going to be REAAAAAALLLLLLLY hard.’
What happened to the eleven years in between?
‘Have you done anything this summer? Gone anywhere?’ I asked the little friend, expecting a story about them going camping or to British Columbia. ‘To Riley Park,’ came the reply. I found it hard to believe the kid had spent the last two months doing nothing more exciting than going to a splash park, but it didn’t seem worth exploring. ‘Oh, fun,’ I lied.
After ‘killing’ about forty five minutes, we summoned the boys to the van and drove off. On our way home, we passed a couple of girls sitting on the sidewalk, with a painted ‘lemonade’ sign in front of a cooler. The professor made a u-turn. He may not care for newborns, but he is a complete sucker for little kids trying to make money.
I took my (only) dollar coin from the cupholder and stepped out of the van with the two older boys. Who were too shy in the presence of the girls to place their order.
They stood there, quietly with eyes averted, so I piped up: ‘we’d like four lemonades, please’ while eying the suspiciously dark liquid on top of the cooler. ‘It’s actually iced tea,’ the little girl replied, ‘the sign just says lemonade.’
False advertising! I almost protested, especially since I don’t really like iced tea. But there I was, standing on the sidewalk with my silent children; committed to purchasing four lemonade-iced teas. ‘There’s only three of you,’ their little helper pointed out. As though there was an unwritten ‘one per customer’ rule. Which, maybe there was.
The girls retrieved Dixie cups from the inside of the cooler and began pouring the dark liquid into the tiny receptacles. Not only was I getting iced tea instead of lemonade. I was paying 25 cents for an ounce and a half of beverage.
We walked back to the car and I handed the professor his half-full Dixie cup of ‘iced tea’. I sipped mine.
Crystal Light, I decided. With aspartame, no doubt.