My 9-year old son recently led me on a spontaneous early morning adventure. I wish I could say I was gung ho, but the truth is he had to cajole me. It was almost time for me to take him to the school bus and his sister to her carpool, but she wasn’t feeling well and decided to stay home. My boy seized the opportunity to break our routine…
“Can we go to Starbucks and then meet the bus at the second stop?” (It’s about 12 minutes away.)
“Uh… I don’t know” I stammered, momentarily overwhelmed by the idea of this modest change of plan (and never as carefree and willing in these situations as I’d like to be). “Oh, okay,” I reluctantly agreed…
Once I was in the car with him and had made the necessary call to my convalescing daughter’s carpool, I relaxed and was suddenly grateful to be spending this special time with my son, granting his wish. Children need our No’s, but it’s easy to forget how much they need our Yes’s, too.
After Starbucks we parked on the quiet street where the bus would be stopping. My son said he wanted to climb the big coral tree across the road. Once again I hesitated, stick in the mud that I am. “Doesn’t it have big thorns?” (I hate this side of myself. It turned out to be a magnolia tree anyway.)
“No, mommy, it’s fine!”
“Okay. But I wanted to be with you.”
“Then come with me.”
“No, that’s okay.” It was 7:10 AM, chilly, and I hadn’t climbed a tree since…never mind. Still, later I wished I’d joined him.
We exchanged goodbyes, kisses and “I love you.”
He ran across the road, plopped his backpack on the sidewalk and disappeared into the tree. For the next few minutes I could only imagine his experience. He was invisible.
As in all good adventure stories, there was suspense… First a man walked by, his dog trailing behind off-leash. The dog paused to sniff my son’s backpack. Would he pee on it? Thankfully, no.
My boy suddenly emerged out of the tree and onto the sidewalk. He looked around for a moment, noticed the bus approaching and then jumped up to swing on a branch before disappearing into the tree again. I imagined he wanted to pop out and surprise friends who might be looking out the bus windows.
Then the bus arrived and totally obliterated my view. I couldn’t see the tree. I couldn’t see if my boy was entering the bus with the other children. I could only see his backpack through the underside of the bus, still on the sidewalk.
A full minute passed and I began to worry. The bus would be leaving any second, and either he wasn’t getting on or he had forgotten his backpack. I took my key out of the ignition and opened the car door. Just as I was stepping out I saw his backpack scooped up and my son’s sneakers as he ran towards the bus door… with only a moment to spare.
As the bus left I sat in the car savoring the morning, loving my boy, grateful and tearful. I thought of other times friends, loved ones, and especially my children have inspired me to let go… and live a little.
Have your children inspired you to break the routine or taken you on an unexpected adventure?