The weekend started with a day in the driveway and ended with a journey across the known world. On Saturday, our community had a yard sale event, which meant that whoever wanted to participate could have a yard sale, while the community did all the advertising for it. Mama had spent the week putting things together for the sale–with growing kids and a recent move, there’s no shortage of things that don’t fit around here–and got them all out on the driveway first thing Saturday morning.
The kids loved the idea, and loved it even more when they started peeling through all the art supplies our neighbor was selling…and then her boyfriend arrived with a box of massive donuts. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
Mama and I followed the lead of our neighbor, whose rule is that nothing goes back into the house, and packed up the car at 1 p.m. to take everything over to our local thrift shop. The kids were excited to come along, although they were too tired from the morning to go pop some tags…or maybe that’s because they didn’t even have $20 in their pocket, having spent it all on art supplies. It was nice to see our local thrift shop, which benefits our local hospital, which the thrift shop is within sight of.
It’s a renovated house, and the donation area is meticulously maintained, and frequented by a steady flow of our neighbors handing off goods to another cadre of neighbors who carefully look them over and sort them. This is not the semi-industrial scene behind the Goodwill or Salvation Army of our old ‘hood, where there was a line of cars pulling up to a production line of workers shuttling goods into the back of a 40-foot semi trailer to ship off for processing in parts unknown. No, at our thrift shop, if you drop it off on Sunday, my guess is that you can see it for sale upstairs on Monday.
Besides the drop off, what was fun for Mama and I was hanging out with our neighbors. We’re all emerging from the winter to stand in driveways, watching the kids play and talking. Although my six-year-old self would tell me I’m being boring, it’s great fun for all.
And on Sunday the fun continued with dear family friends coming over from our old neighborhood for brunch and a playdate. 3B still talks about two or three friends from his preschool days, and this was one of them, and his brother. He and 3B were born within weeks of one another, had some of their first playdates together and are still somehow like peas in a pod, no matter how much time has passed between visits, though our trampoline may have helped with that.
Then again, the trampoline with four kids was probably asking for trouble, which arrived several times. Nobody was hurt, although I believe 3B’s pride was injured, which he reacts to with great anger when it happens in public. My reactions weren’t my best either, but we got it sorted out, though when they were leaving, 3B was up in his room with me because he’d just been starting physical fights. He did go downstairs to say goodbye, and then set off to chase them down the street on his bike, which about gave Mama a heart attack.
I followed on my scooter–and my six-year-old self was jealous to see that I have a scooter–and saw 3B go around the corner of our cul-de-sac and down toward the major street through our town. He pulled up and waited once he saw me, and I realized, for once, that I had a decision to make. He had disobeyed Mama’s call to stay at home and not chase. He had heeded our request to put on a helmet and shoes (OK, flip-flops, but for a half-Californian, those are shoes). He was headed toward a dangerous street, but he was waiting for me.
So I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was going back to Virginia to their house to keep playing. I told him that they were still in the ‘hood, visiting their families, who live near us, but that we could try for Virginia, if he’d like.
We then sorted out which way was south and found a street that heads that way. As we went along, it became less of a chase and more of an adventure to parts unknown. As we went, I pointed out our house between the houses of that street, then his school between the houses, as it became visible. 3B then concluded that to get back home we just needed to find a turn in that direction, and when we found a trail that did turn that way, we took it right into the playground of his school.
He also saw that it led down to our local forested park, and we headed down that way. After about 20 minutes walking through the woods and stream, collecting trash for disposal and recycling, we headed back home. 3B was excited that he’d found a new way to his school, and proud of having ridden his bike so far, so when we got home, he convinced Mama and Jewel to reprise the journey with us.
They were ready in a moment; it was 3B and I, ironically, who took longer to be ready to do what we had just done. Part of that was because I was getting my bike out of the shed, for the first ride on pavement (rather than a trainer) since last year’s PMC.
Maybe it was the mimosas left over from brunch that I poured into an insulated water bottle for Mama and me, but we all appeared to have had a nice ride. Mama and I switched off partnering with either kid on the ride over; we played imaginary baseball on the diamond at 3B’s school, having left our balls and gloves at home; we made it through the forest, over the rocks and onto the playground; we all got a little chilly and headed back home.
The journey, like all good ones, seemed to have taken us not only out of our home, but out of our heads, unmooring us from the thoughts we’re anchored to. It might have started out of anger and mourning, much as the Greeks set out for Troy, but returned us home more settled and reflective. From the playground atop the rocks, I was able to look back on my reactions to 3B while our guests were with us and see where my mistaken steps fell and where I’ll walk a different path next time.
I could see that he had stopped shouting, “C’mon! Hurry up!” and started shouting, “Looks good. You’re doing well!” after I pointed out that criticizing was less encouraging than, well, encouragement. And I knew that he saw the difference it made in his sister, too, even though she still stops as often Spinal Tap tunes their guitars, and for the same reason: because she can. She was the model of consistent persistence–without making a point of it, she just did it, showing me its intrinsic value.
Jewel herself had a reaction to our sojourn that was similar to 3B’s, including pride in making such a long ride and delight at playing with her family all across town, from our house to his school to the park. Mapping it, I saw that she had ridden 1.5 miles or so, which meant he’d done 3 miles in the day, but more important than the decimal places on the odometer was the trip we’d made from our morning to our afternoon, from conflict to peace.