May just does something to me. As the earth warms and the end of the school year approaches, I long to combine the sunshine with the sums and the breezes with the books. Often this means that we pack a bag of school books, a lunch, and a picnic blanket and walk down to the small neighborhood park.
Tuesday found us doing just that -- swapping the school table for a carpet of green grass. It was impulsive, as such decisions often are. We had started our morning assignments, and I was inspired. "Hey! Let's finish our morning work and head over to the park for lunch and afternoon reading!" No arm twisting was necessary.
After we stuffed bags with food and books, we were ready to head out the door. I looked down at my attire and shrugged. We probably wouldn't see anyone there. Sweats and a t-shirt, a hat and no makeup . . . no big deal. I realized my sunglasses were in Jamie's car, so I grabbed another pair instead. My ginormous backup pair that makes me look rather like a bug. A bluebottle fly, to be precise. Thus clad, we made our way to the park.
It was serene and lovely. A couple of small children were clambering over the bars, their mother quietly tending to a younger sibling. We made our way toward the back of the park, along the water's edge so we could read without being disturbed. Lunch came first, after which I told the kids they could play for a few minutes before we did our reading together.
While they played and explored, I lost myself in my latest issue of Victoria magazine. The lovely pages and the warmth of the sun lulled me to a place of peace that I hated to disturb. But I finally corralled Aidan and Avery, who were eager to hear the next chapter of The Four Story Mistake. After our chapter, I glanced over at the stack of math books and shrugged. They could wait. "Why don't you guys go play for a bit? Just don't go back near the water, please -- it's pretty yucky and stagnant right now." Again, no arm twisting was necessary.
The temperature was absolutely perfect -- just about 73 degrees -- and I found myself growing drowsy in the blanket of delightful warmth. I decided to lie down on the picnic blanket for just a minute, to savor the blue sky overhead, dotted with the occasional fluffy white cloud. My eyes closed and I took in the sounds around me. A bee working busily nearby, a red-winged blackbird darting up from the sedges, a dog barking in the distance.
I don't think I fell asleep. But I can't be quite sure. I eventually pulled myself out of my reverie and decided to look for my children. I peered over the bushes toward the playground equipment. I saw a number of children and adults that hadn't been there before (maybe I did doze . . .) but no sign of my children. Then I looked near the edge of the marsh and saw their discarded shoes and socks. The stinkers!
I staggered to my feet, the heat growing and my sleepy head feeling rather disoriented. I scanned the brush and trees, wondering how on earth they could disappear into such a small area of woods. "Aidan!!!" I shouted. No answer. I called again, louder, "Aidan!!!" I wasn't quite ready to panic, and I was angry at the thought of them disobeying. And then I heard a voice behind me. "Yeah, Mom?" They came running from the playground equipment.
Of course I was relieved and felt silly for doubting them. "Oh! I didn't see you guys over there! Did you have fun?" They did, and scrambled back into their shoes and socks (which apparently had gotten "just a little bit wet, Mom," before I had made the marsh off limits.)
We were ready to head home by this time, so we collected our things. I promised chocolate shakes when we got back, hoping the incentive would soften the blow that math was still to come. My head was still loopy from the drowsy heat as we pulled our possessions together and ambled laboriously toward the main park area. I passed one of the mothers who looked at me quizzically from her perch on the bench. "Were you over there?" She pointed toward the bushes where we had picnicked.
It was at this point that I regretted wearing such frumpy attire. It was at this point that I especially regretted wearing my beer shirt. (Let me explain. Jamie and I had gone to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch one of the Blazer playoff games. I somehow "won" a free beer t-shirt . . . mostly because it was a woman's shirt and I happened to be the right size. I gingerly accepted the gift, figuring I'd wear it to exercise or clean or something. Or go to the park, apparently.)
I smiled sheepishly. "Yes . . . we had a picnic blanket spread out . . . ." I looked wistfully toward the trees.
"Oh, good!" She replied. "I thought I saw someone lying down and I was hoping they were okay!"
From behind my enormous, buggy sunglasses, under the shady brim of my hat, I assured her that I was just fine and thanked her for her concern. I cringed when I pictured myself staggering to my feet behind the bushes, searching and calling for my missing, shoeless children in the woods . . . who were actually behaving like nice little children on the bars . . . with my shirt declaring, "For the love of beer."
I thought it best to just head on home.
My children raced ahead, and when I finally entered the house behind them I was glad to drop our load of stuff and feel properly oriented once again. I got the chocolate shakes started and prepared the children for the truth: it was time to do math. They actually took the news fairly well and simply asked if they could work together. So I handed them their shakes and worksheets and we got to work.
I was feeling quite myself again. It was clear that Little Miss was in rare form, however (perhaps not so rare?). Maybe the heat was getting to her, too. She asked me to correct her math page. I didn't get far before I had to call her to make a correction.
The problem read, "The cost of the doughnut is 45 cents. Mrs. Baylis paid for the doughnut with a one dollar bill. How much change will you give her?"
Her answer? "None because she said keep the change."
Like I said, May just does something to me. Apparently it does something to my daughter, too. And the only beverages consumed that afternoon -- I promise -- were chocolate shakes.