I picked up the Gort from school; his brothers waiting excitedly in our increasingly-decrepit car-van. We’d been cooped up inside the house all day, having been under the impression that it was somehow ‘cold’ outside. Possibly because the skies had been overcast. And it had rained. And, I’m learning, it’s about five degrees cooler inside our house than it is outside. So Percy and the Hen and I had read books. And they’d put marker to paper. And I’d consumed copious amounts of cookies and tea and coffee. Because I thought it was ‘so’ cold. When it was really 60 degrees outside.
As I made my way across the leaf-strewn field towards the after-school pick up spot, I felt a pile of guilt descend upon me: I’d wasted a perfectly beautiful day indoors. When hibernation is imminent.
‘I have an idea,’ I tried to entice my blond boy wonders when I got back to the car. ‘What if we go for a walk?!’ A double chorus of ‘noooooooooooooooooooooooo’ reverberated through the van. Except for Percy, who said ‘yeaaaaaaaaah’. He really is my favorite child.
‘Okay, what if we get hot chocolate at Starbucks and then go for a walk,’ I tried to sweeten the deal. And, after a considerable amount of negotiating: ‘can I get a bistro box?’ ‘No.’ ‘But I’ve never tried one before and you always say how it’s good for us to try new things.’
I was thisclose to being proud of the way the 7.5 year old was trying to manipulate me….with my own words.
But I held firm. Hot chocolate or nothing. No deal for you. Err, no extra deal for you.
So we stopped at Starbucks, where I procured beverages. Which two out of the three boy-children managed to spill all over their pants. And we drove to the reservoir, revisiting the same spot we’d frequented nine days earlier. It was just after 3.30 and, save a handful of diligent exercisers, it was quiet.
I sensed we were about to experience another perfect hour.
We headed down the dirt trail to the rocks by the water. As soon as the older boys saw the rocks…and the water…they managed to forget about their staunch objections to going on an adventure. They threw rocks. And we walked. And they threw more rocks. And we walked some more. And they threw rocks and sticks and tried to score points by hitting a piece of wood floating in the water. And we walked until we hit the end of the gravel trail.
I spied a steep set of stairs leading back to the bike path. ‘Alright, time to walk back to the car,’ I summoned the troops, half-wishing we could have walked till dark. The boys ran ahead. And there were no complaints about how far we’d have to walk. Or how hungry they were. When we got to the top of the stairs, the Hen spied a playground a mere hundred yards away. ‘Can we go to the park,’ he begged. And his older brother grumbled, because the minutes till bedtime were flying by and he hadn’t even had any ‘play-time’.
I promised the Gort he could have two hours of ‘play-time’ if he indulged his younger brother’s wish to climb around on brightly colored metal equipment. So they climbed and swung and bounced on the pseudo teeter totter and I nervously eyed my non-existent watch while racking my brain for ‘fast-dinner-possibilities’.
It was after 5 by the time we reached the car. I’d had to carry young Percy because he was all out of steam. Possibly from the lengthy walk and possibly from the energy he’d exerted in filling his diaper. He was an oozing, smelly disaster but even so, I felt compelled to thank the boys for an excellent adventure.
‘I know,’ the Gort agreed, ‘we didn’t even complain!’