I was too tired.
It was hot. I wanted to go home, leave my shoes at the door, fall in a heap and drink a glass of lemonade.
Instead, it was my day to pick up a little blonde boy from preschool. I do it fairly often, but it’s always a big deal when his Gwamaw arrives. The moment he spots me, his hands go up in the air and he announces me to the world, like I’m a champion boxer. It’s a great feeling for me to be so famous, even if it’s to just one little 3-year old fan. I brace myself for the running hug.
The next thing is, “Chawcowit milk? Truck? Chawcowit milk?” Then he runs to grab his stuff as fast as he can and give a hasty goodbye to teacher. All the way to the truck he talks about the milk. It’s a big deal to hold a $5 bill and run to the cold case at the convenience store. It’s hard to wait in line, but when his turn is up, on tip-toes he slaps the money and bottle on the counter, allows the cashier to handle the milk just long enough to scan it, then grabs the change and announces, “Tank youuuu.” I have to move fast to beat him to the door. As we load up and buckle in, I open the milk and he says, “I know. Don’t spiwl it.”
Whew, glad that’s done, I was thinking as we drove away.
“Gwamaw, we gunna swim today? I wan go swimmeen.”
Deep breath. Turn up the radio. Look out the window, turn on my blinker and look really busy driving. Gwamaws are hard of hearing sometimes… but by the third request, I really couldn’t ignore the poor kid anymore. So I began to negotiate. “Well, I’m pretty tired, and you have your chocolate milk. Plus, I’m sure your mom is fixing dinner, and I should probably take you home soon.”
“Well, we do have time for swimmeen. Mom’s not ready,” was the sweet little reply.
Take this kid out of preschool. When did he get so smart?
I remember his mom at this age, and I remember being tired – even more tired than I was on this particular day. I remember having to make what seemed like a huge effort to push aside the other pressures, like working and making dinner, to spend a little bit of time with my little bitty person.
And, I remember those times.
You know what happened next. Flash forward 30 minutes, and there we were, he on the side of the pool decked out in his froggy swim vest and Superman trunks, and me in the pool giving the countdown to launch, his little knees bending with each number. “3 – 2 – 1 – jump!” I said with great expectation. Kersplash, giggle, giggle, giggle. “Do again, do again!”
What seemed like 95 jumps, followed by several dog paddles to the other side of the pool and back, led to me luring him out of the pool with the promise of an ice cream sandwich.
Yes, I know we were closing in on dinner time, but I’m Gwamaw. How can I be expected to follow all his mother’s dietary guidelines? (Besides, she learned them from me, and maybe I was too a little too strict back then.) And, how can I bring the swimming to a close without some sort of bait?
Soon, we sat on shady steps wrapped in warm towels, a stream of ice cream dripping down his arm. I should have taken a picture, but I didn’t want to ruin the moment, so I took a snapshot in my head.
I will remember this little bit of time, with him still small enough to fit on my lap and enjoy the pure pleasure of the hot summer and cold ice cream. I hope he will remember too. Just to make sure we both do, I plan to pick him up again next week so we can swim, and count down for 95 jumps and eat ice cream before dinner… Even if I’m too tired.