We went to a playground yesterday. Something to do. Something to help him get his kindergarten wiggles out. I was optimistic, thinking that we could have a “picnic” on one of the benches. I made a left into the Saxon Woods parking lot. “Go, go, go, go! Phew, JUST made it”, he said. V is the most unapologetic backseat driver I’ve ever met. He keeps me on my toes. He knows all the rules of the road….and yes, he’s a kindergartener. I don’t think I ever knew WHERE or HOW my parents were driving when I was five. But V knows.
I stepped out of the car, grabbing my purse and the plastic bag that held our snacks. Immediately, I knew it was a bad idea. A gust of wind blew at me in rage. It went right through my coat and long johns, paralyzing my bones. It turned my hair into a wild beast that plastered itself onto my face. “Well,” I thought to myself, “we’re here…might as well give it a shot.”
I joined him for a bit. I chased him across the rope bridge, failing miserably as I lost balance and my feet fell through the holes. It was good to keep moving…anything to create warmth. V didn’t even seem to notice the tornado-like winds. I was encouraged once other kids came. Another babysitter with two little ones. A mom with a baby, and two little boys and a little girl. Comrades for V! I sat at a picnic table while he made new friends. He kept yelling to me from time to time to check in. A smile. A wave. He yelled, asking the time, and I yelled it back knowing full well that he doesn’t know how to tell time yet, and that the numbers have no meaning for him.
Soon he came running over to me, his face went white and he said, “I have to poop.” Ut oh. We’ve had an accident before, and it’s not pretty. The aftermath isn’t the worst part, it’s how it affects him emotionally. He feels so ashamed, and therefore loses it. I have to comfort him, admitting that yes, when I was his age, the same thing happened to me too. My eyes scanned the park, they landed on a little cabin-like building labeled, “Restrooms”. “Thank you, Lord”, I mouthed. He ran towards it, I trailed behind scrambling to grab all our belongings. I made it into the restroom a couple seconds behind him and heard good news. “I made it!” he said. Sigh. Crisis averted. I found that as I waited for him, the part of me that likes comfort wanted to stay in that dirty bathroom…there was a heat vent that was so tempting. I said, “Come here, V, and feel how warm it is.” He totally didn’t fall for it. “Nah, I’m gonna go down the slide!” And off he went, like a shot.
Back at my picnic table, I looked at my watch. Only fifteen minutes. We’d been there only fifteen minutes and it felt like a year. It was so cold. While we were in the bathroom, the other two parties left, leaving V and me a little sad. No goodbyes. It also confirmed to me that I was crazy for staying in such brutal weather. V became engrossed again finding sticks in the shapes of letters (there were a ton of Y’s), and I kept looking up at the angry sky. I prayed, “God, if you could just make the wind a little less painful…if you could just make it a little warmer…that’d be great.” A couple of minutes later I gathered up the food, patted V on the back and said, “Let’s go home.” And not to be cliché, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot today. Yesterday, the weather was almost unbearable. It’s like this world we live in….there are things that aren’t right, it’s painful. Yes, there are moments of “warm vents”, but this world is broken. I’m looking forward to getting warm one day and going home.
We walked back to the car, and I felt strangely awesome. Like we had accomplished something. There were only a few of us crazy enough to brave the weather and enjoy a playground, and we did. We lasted the longest (I’ve been getting a bit more competitive hanging around V)! I strapped V in his car-seat, hopped into the car, turning the vent up full blast. “Okay, now I’ll be your GPS,” V said before I even pulled out. “You’ll take a right and then stay straight, then go through the light, then turn left at Sheldrake Place, then…”