My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Best Laid Plans...


What an amazingly beautiful day. It's windy as all get-out but it's 79 degrees. I repeat: 79 degrees! I am a warm weather person. The older I get, the more I can't stand cold weather. Really, anything below 65 degrees is simply too frigid for me. Today underscored that for me. I went out at lunch and sat under a not-yet-leafed oak tree at a little town park a few blocks from the college. I read my book, took in the sounds of children playing on swings and monkey bars, their mothers sitting at picnic tables drinking sodas and softly chatting with each other, and as the sun soaked into my skin, I began to feel…alive, healed, energized. Like a real person again. I had forgotten during the long winter (which really wasn't all that cold but still!) that I could actually feel this good, that all it takes is sunshine and warmth to make me happy and whole.

Wow. And, why this surprises me, I don't know. Happens every year. But, it's funny how you can forget how the sun can feel on your skin when it's been weak and hovering too low for months, how the warmth seems to be drunk into your pores and how you can actually feel it fill up your body – like when you are super thirsty and drink a whole cup of cold water that you can feel go down your throat – with some absolutely essential vitamin (like, uh, vitamin D? Duh.), and how you feel suddenly recharged, at peace, well. Really well.

As I was leaving work for the park, I saw a tall, lanky bald man (like purposely bald, not a baldness based on disease, age or genetics though I certainly have no way of proving this) pulling two small children in a wagon. The boy was probably about three and the girl about two. They were out enjoying the weather. I took passing note of them. I've seen this guy before – must live in the neighborhood. They were, at that moment, just a part of the scenery on this lovely day.

When I got to the park (which I'll admit I drove to because for once, I'm wearing a skirt, and the wind is so powerful, I really wasn't in a mood to display my Hanes to the entire town), I arranged my coat, sat down on it, opened my book and… there they were: the man and the wagon of children headed for the park. He stopped the wagon by the monkey bars and began to unbuckle the belts (Where have I been? I had no idea wagons came with seat belts these days.). The boy shot out and ran for the swings. As the man bent down to release the girl, he stopped, picked up her feet and said, "Oh no!" Somewhere along the way, the girl had removed one of her shoes and just tossed it over the side. She'd probably even waved bye-bye to it and nobody had noticed. So, no sooner had they gotten there then they had to retrace their steps to find the missing shoe. I felt bad even as I laughed because the incident is just so illustrative of Life With Children.

No matter what you plan to do, it's usually a miracle if things work out the way you'd hoped they would. Now, these children would lose precious play time and the man would have to pull them all the way back along their route until the shoe was found – IF it was found, I should say. Have you ever seen a lost and lonely shoe on the side of the road and wondered how it got there? Then you don't have children. It's like the poor naked Barbie I nearly ran over back in the fall. Some poor little girl lost a Barbie and I can imagine half a dozen plausible scenarios to explain it.

So, the man and children left and every couple of minutes or so, I looked up from my book to see if they were on their way back. Nope. Nope. Nope. I kept reading. Watched a woman allow her dog to piss on a park bench, the park sign, the park fence (what is with dogs and their owners? They are a mystery to me, truly.).

Then, fifteen minutes later, I looked up and here they came! As they passed behind me, I gave the man a friendly questioning look. He said, "Somebody found it and put it on a pole near the old post office." "Good!" I replied. Instant parent community created there. We'd never spoken but clearly he knew I knew what was going on and I was really glad they'd found the shoe. That someone had picked it up from the sidewalk or the street (horrors!) and put it somewhere safe, somewhere its owner would find it. And now – finally, finally! – the kids were released to play. They'd never made a fuss about the abrupt change of plans, just accepted what came and here was their reward: running about in a playground on a gorgeous March day.

What more could you ask for?


2:01 p.m. ::
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