the accidental coffee hour

I’m not sure if it is worse to forget a dentist appointment, or to remember it a week early. Either way, I’d gotten a baby-sitter for little Em, and somehow presented our dentist visit to Erik with the right balance of enthusiasm and bribery to convince him it would be ok. And then the receptionist looked at me sympathetically and said, “Oh, I’d love to get you in today – we even have an opening! But your insurance…” and we all know insurance usually has the last word. We walked back out into the wind and sunshine and I decided that if Erik hadn’t earned his treat, I’d at least feel better if I had mine. And so we landed at a coffee shop, with one extra-large bar of blueberry crisp on a saucer and a small cup of coffee with cream. 

Sitting in a coffee shop isn’t Erik’s ideal world. I find this forgivable in a three-year-old. We discovered the saving grace of a Little Free Library inside, complete with childrens books and a few toys. So we read. We counted the wooden blocks that he pushed up and over the curled wire frame of the toy. We took a bite of the blueberry crisp; then he decided he was done, and I took several more bites. He climbed on and off his chair and I watched him flip through the books and talk about the people around us and I took a picture because sometimes I forget to just sit with him and listen. 

Yesterday we went for a walk, Em in the stroller and him on his little strider bike. And then half way through I saw the way he was crouching and I offered to raise the seat. I forgot for a moment how much he’d grown; how eighteen months ago when his sister was born, he wasn’t tall enough to even sit on the seat at its lowest. Here he is now riding a mile around the neighborhood. 

We could go back further; once upon a time in my first springtime with him, we walked miles and miles with the stroller, or him in the baby carrier on my back, twisting around side to side trying to touch the trees and almost making me lose my balance. There was a summer that he learned to ride the tricycle and every time we went to the park after that I had to push him back up the almost imperceptible hill before our house. I was pregnant, no less, but he was cute and it was worth it. We spent a lot of those pregnant days playing on the footbridge across from the park. Peek-a-boo and chasing games, letting him run downhill and walk back up over and over. Climbing the bridge rails and holding his shirt to keep him safe while he leaned over and threw leaves into the water.

It’s been years and years since he was born. A million maybe. Almost four really. That’s how motherhood is. You love so big it could fill eternity but there it is all crammed into a body the size of a not-quite-toddler-anymore. It makes the time pass, and it doesn’t. Life as a parent goes by those contraries, and I forget sometimes to stop and look at the tiny boy who came out fighting on a quiet June morning. 

But here he is in front of me, asking me to read the book we found in the little library one more time, and reiterating that he really doesn’t want even a tiny bite of the blueberry crisp. So I put my phone away and help him count the blocks as they go up and around, over and over. The Zebra striped square. The orange circle. The green triangle. And I read about the Monkey Marimba at the zoo. I take a bite of crisp and hold my coffee steady as he climbs in and out of my lap, and I take the time we didn’t spend at the dentist to be with my boy again.

Hey there – you know there’s a whole host of stories and essays I publish only by email? That’s also the place where you can really write back – join the conversation. Drop your email address right here. Let’s be friends.

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