Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Chronicle of Saturday II: An Imperfect Morning

Starting the day right is no guarantee that it will continue to be so. 

Having time to enjoy the silence and serenity of a crisp autumn morning and engage in whatever activity it is one enjoys, is great. But there's no equity being built here.

It can all be over in a flash. Your neighbor could rev up his lawnmower. A meteor could land in your driveway. Or, one's toddler could wake up and decide, "It's on!" One's spouse could do the same thing. 

Such was the case last Saturday, when my day began with a much appreciated, though quiet, flourish. I wandered around my kitchen, made coffee, made breakfast, and watched what I wanted to watch on TV. 

Then the boy woke up and my early morning quiet gave way to the far-more-familiar hustle and bustle of most mornings. All this said, it was a welcome development. 
Madison Wisconsin during the months prior to the annual
arrival of the glaciers and ice sheets. 

The boy was in fine form and talking up a storm, stringing together long chains of stream-of-consciousness that, when viewed as a whole, made no sense whatsoever. 

There were oft-repeated phrases, lines from his favorite TV show, interspersed with observations about what he was seeing. 

"Oh no! We have to get out of here! Let's go. What did you do? Oh, no! There's mommy and there's daddy. Oatmeal! OK!"

It's cute and, it better be, because it's also inescapable. 

So, together we sat and enjoyed the aimlessness of a morning with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Until Mrs. Blackwell decided that we had places to go and there were things to do.

For her part she was right. We did have some much-needed tasks to get completed. 

You see, it’s mid-November in Wisconsin. For the uninitiated, this is about the time Mother Nature drives an icy stake into the heart of autumn and begins ruthlessly dragging us toward another frigid test of our desire to live in “America’s Best City.”

So, preparations have to be made. Lawns must be readied. Water lines shut off. Garages prepped. Winter clothes un-mothballed. Children must be told stories of the desolate, bleak fate that awaits them in the months ahead.

It also means we’ve got to go shopping for things that are totally un-fun to buy! (Weather stripping. A new ladder. Paint. These are just a few of the fun items that must be procured.)

But, if you’re the boy, all these errands represent are an opportunity to work on your tantrum-throwing skills. But, this time, you’ve got the benefit of an audience of complete strangers to try out your new material.

For his part, the boy didn’t disappoint.

That's him. Lying on his back with my jacket tossed over his
head. Because nothing says "in-control parent" more than this.
He wasn’t in the store for more than five minutes before he decided it was time to lie down in the middle of an aisle. If we tried to pick him up and move him, he cried — loudly. Mrs. Blackwell and I declined to engage him but, eventually, reality intruded in the form of another shopper and we had to move our speed bump son out of the way.

When he was lifted from the linoleum the boy really hit the freak switch.

We had work to do, and we couldn’t leave so, I told Mrs. Blackwell to go and that I’d take the boy.

My strategy was simple: let him go. Just put him down and follow him.

And, boy, did he go. He went. And went. And went. And I worked to keep up as he wove in and out of the maze of racks, carts and legs of fellow shoppers, to whom I was apologizing throughout.

Because he’s got my athletic acumen, he ran into things and fell. And because he has my inability to learn from his mistakes, he kept doing it.

But, because he’s got his mother’s sunny disposition, he kept on smiling and giggling the whole way.

After about 15 minutes of this non-stop romp he finally came to a rest — on his back under a rack of kids’ shirts. And there we stayed and played until it was time to work our way back toward the parking lot.

As we walked out of the store, I considered the course of my morning. From quiet and calm to clamor and commotion. It’s not always fun, it's far from perfect, and it’s never boring.

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