Photo: I was chaperone on Ursa Major’s field trip to the Boston Children’s Museum today. I decided to drive to the T and then take the train the rest of the way in. The walk from South Station to the Museum is pretty painless! On the way, we encountered a little public art and Major was really fascinated by the idea of metal bent and contorted to make a human shape. It wasn’t easy getting him to take this picture (he seems to have inherited a bit of my self-consciousness), but I managed to get a few fun pics.
This field trip was supposed to be at the beginning of March, but that’s when Winter decided to kick in, so it was postponed until today. I’d raised my hand for chaperoning back when I was winter non-busy. I was a fool, I guess. I really thought about bowing out of going today, as I really do have too much stuff on my plate. But Major was heartbroken enough when the field trip was postponed, and he was so looking forward to our day together… I didn’t have the heart to disappoint.
Major was hyped up about the entire thing. He was pumped about the drive in (he was all too delighted to opt out of the bus ride full of screaming kids), he was pumped about getting on the T again, he was excited about having me all to himself without having Minor around. But he was most excited because we were going to get Subway for lunch.
It’s the little things, ya’ll. It’s the little things.
Subway is the best for “I’m chaperoning a field trip” lunches. I’ve been doing that since my charter school days. Get up, roll over to the shop, get you a 6-inch somethin’ somethin’ and some chips and a cookie… Quick, easy, not terrible. Not amazing, but certainly not terrible. Fills you up enough to keep you from getting the hangries before the end of the day.
When Major announced to Minor our special plans, Minor was, of course, aggrieved. It was bad enough he wasn’t going to the museum with us. Who kicks a kid when he’s down?
So there we were, all three of us in the van, heading down the road for a quick pick up of three dang subs and then a drop-off of Minor at school before 90 minutes of battling into the city. The schedule was tight, but I had a plan and I knew how to execute it. It was all going to work.
You know what happened, right?
Not a single light on in that Subway. Nobody setting up. Google said it would be open at 7:45, the sign on the door said it would be open at 8. I stood there at 8:05 just chuckling and shaking my head. Even if I’d waited, meatballs certainly wouldn’t be available in any timeframe that would have worked for me. You just never know where the glitch in the system is going to be.
My Quiet Thoughts this evening are about the moment I had with my two boys in that parking lot this morning. The disappointment on their faces in their moment of realization that this just wasn’t going to work out, but their own demonstration of flexibility under pressure.
“[Minor], I need you to get pizza lunch today.” “But, I don’t want pizza,” he answered, but it was half-hearted. I know when I’ve got a spirited debate on my hands.
“Little sir,” I said, “you see that store is dark. I have no control over this. You’ve got to roll with me today. Can you please be cool with pizza lunch today?”
He nodded, settled into a seat with a smile. I dropped him off at school, emailed his teacher… she checked in with me a few hours later saying he was so fine, so fantastic, it wasn’t even worth the worry or the email.
With Major, I sighed, my thoughts racing. Then I found the elegant solution: “Go back home and make you a peanut butter jelly?”
“Yuuup,” the child answered. (Lordy. Same tone as I do and everything!)
Flexibility, I think, is taught and learned and grown into. A year ago, this morning would have been a disaster. Someone would have been in tears. Probably Minor. However, when I think about this morning, I think about the taught and learned lessons about dealing with disappointment and problem-solving on the fly. All thoughts and steps were talked out. The boys watched me encounter the glitch, figure out a solution, and make that solution happen. No panic. No tears. No fights. No fuss.
I know it’s a little stupid thing, field trip lunch at Subway… but the boys continue to remind me that they are always watching. They pay attention to everything I do. If I’d had a tantrum at that moment, I would have taught them a hell of a lot. They won’t remember this morning with any deep detail as they get older. Indeed, next week, it will be gone. However, the lesson, I hope, will remain: when you come across a glitch, you stay calm and you roll with it. Everybody will eat.
Well, Mommy didn’t eat. I chocked down a granola bar while driving, and sadly munched on a bag of sun chips during lunch while everyone else enjoyed a sandwich. Sacrificial leadership is a lesson for another time.
It’s a cooling Friday night, with windows open all over this old house. It’s too early for crickets, which is disappointing. Nights like this should come with song. We’re left instead with wind whirling through trees only beginning to dress, the clack and clatter of bare branches hitting each other echoing in the darkness. The rush and rustle of real leaves will be here soon. But not tonight. Tonight is one of clunky, swaying transition.
This Friday, I wish you open windows and curtains that sway in soft breeze. Invite the fresh air into your home this weekend, Dear Reader. Banish the dust and the musty winter air of your home and introduce the new. I wish you fresh flowers. Bonus points if they’re cut and arranged by hand. A dear friend arranged a gorgeous bouquet for me and my incoming parents this weekend. Blessed are those who create beautiful things and give them to others to enjoy. The flowers have brought dramatic and much-needed elegance to my living room today, and I get to stare at them with awe and gratitude. I wish you a bright new color to put somewhere in the house. Something to put on the wall or a pretty new piece of clothing to add to your wardrobe. After a winter like this, I feel like I need to be reintroduced to what color is! I wish you music, sweet and loud and live if possible. When was the last time you sang unabashedly in public or danced along to the beat of a performance? Is there a park where you can find a little music, a little gentle sway this weekend, Dear Reader? I wish you a good story in a good book and a good chunk of time to read it. I wish you a delicious meal, something saucy with a bit of heat, chilled wine and no less than two good friends to share it all with. And, as ever, a wonderful tale told. I wish you a hand held, a kiss on the cheek, and a secret: something powerfully intimate told only to you. Can you find the words this weekend that could really reach deep into someone’s heart, Dear Reader?
I remind you that you’re infinitely beautiful every week because there are some things that are just universally true. We each carry within us the breath of the divine. The world is a wonderful place simply because you are in it, Dear Reader. There are people in this world who love you and admire you, who watch you with awe. Don’t shy away from being your best and brightest self. Do not hide and do not apologize. Shine, Dear Reader. Today and every day. We need you.
I’m giving a sermon on Sunday. My Lordy, what have I gotten myself into?
Until Monday, dance, sing, tell good stories, shine on and take care.