“Youth is wasted on the young.”
-George Bernard Shaw
If I turn my computer off promptly at 2:59 p.m. and walk out my office door, making sure to turn off lights and lock the doors, exactly at 3 p.m., I can be in my car by 3:08 p.m. That means, assuming I don’t hit every single red light and only have to stop once for a school crossing guard on the way, that I can be at our mailbox at 3:22 and queued up in the school pickup line in a good spot by 3:25, give or take a minute. If I’ve hit the mailbox before I get to the boys’ school I can read the mail and check facebook while I wait for them to come outside at 3:39 p.m. On Mondays it’s important for me to be close to the front of the line because we need to run by home, grab snacks and be at piano at 4 p.m. It only takes about seven minutes to get to piano so we should, in theory, have about nine minutes to spare at home. Welcome to the inside of my head and the thoughts that dominate the majority of my days. This is even after giving up my big girl job for this one that’s supposed to be stress-free. Pretty sad, huh?
I had a meeting today and didn’t get to my car until about 3:12, which meant that I skipped the mailbox and went straight to school, leaving me with about 14 minutes of time to fill. When I arrived in the pickup line I saw a class of kids on the playground, which is somewhat out of the norm. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was Thomas’ class. It was a sunny, windy 75 degrees today and they were like ants swarming an anthill. They were up, they were down, they were all around. They were carefree, for sure. Eventually the teacher blew her whistle and I found myself thinking she should be nominated for teacher of the year for knowing to take these kids outside on this day instead of trying to teach them more math. There’s a lifetime for math. Look at me, knowing I have nine spare minutes between school pickup and piano. They’ll get all the practice they need.
After they went inside I found myself with six minutes of free time. I scanned MSN on my phone and made the mistake of reading a story about a new Australian strain of the norovirus that apparently we’re all going to contract and will make us all very sick and it will laugh at Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer. Damn Australians. Then I read that the US Postal Office is on the brink of collapse and that no matter how much they raise postal rates, the USPS has completely tapped out its line of credit with the US Treasury. I’m not really good at math but I think that’s difficult to do and it’s a sad state of affairs and a sad commentary on all of us. I closed out the “news” at that point, because if the entertainment news is that depressing, imagine the real, hard news.
And then it was 3:39. I looked up and saw the school doors open and kids stream out in orderly lines to their designated pickup locations. I watched Thomas walk out with his backpack weighing him down, stuffed with the winter coat he didn’t need on this warm afternoon. He went dutifully to the front of the building to wait for me to pull through the line and for his brother to join him. Just then I looked up and saw him. Andrew leaves the building from a back door near his classroom and walks around to the front to meet his brother. I often wish he was walking a bit faster so he would beat me to the front of the line and we wouldn’t hold up traffic.
Not today. Today he was a sight. He was racing down the sidewalk apparently just high on this summer day that came to visit in the deep of winter. His backpack was in his left hand, and his coat in his right as he SPRINTED around the building. Both were flying out behind him, kind of like capes, and his shoes were a blur of neon green and silver. He was laughing, as if he was sharing a joke with someone, but he was running all by himself. I would have noticed him even if he didn’t belong to me. He came screeching around the corner on the proverbial two wheels and then he saw me watching him. He stopped short and gave me a big wave. It was the kind of wave that I know he’ll eventually become too self-conscious to offer up on public property so I made sure to wave back. He flashed a million watt smile in return and then ran to meet his brother.
He left me feeling pleased beyond measure that he was feeling so buoyant and wishing that I could, if even for just six minutes, remember how to feel that way too.