Chasing Cars

Last week, we had one of those magical days together – all three of us. “All three of us” generally doesn’t happen often, because Ken and I are still in the parenting phase where our ships pass each other through the night – both of us worn from the rocky waters of toddler (ir)rationalizations. Our current solution is to switch off, passing the Bee baton back and forth so we can both gain a clear head and recharge with some semi-productivity. Me with yoga, Ken with basement renovating and sometimes brownie baking because he is the truest of Renaissance men.

But last week, we were three. We were our magical little trio on a quest to fill out paperwork for Bee’s passport at the post office downtown – a place with no bathrooms and zero entertainment except those attached-to-the-desk pens boasting layers of peeled masking tape around the middle which just seem to adhere even more germs than usual, no?

I don’t know why it was such a great day, because gracious, we set ourselves up for failure in the biggest of ways. Bee overslept and I forgot my coffee on the kitchen counter, of course next to the reinforcement activities (iPad) to keep her occupied (quiet) during our long afternoon wait. But the sun was shining and we called it Adventure, because hey, we were together. We were three.

Bee lasted pretty much zero seconds in the post office waiting room before causing general havoc, so we visited the PO boxes while Ken waited in the lobby and then our curiosity led us outside to the sidewalk, Bee’s latest craze. Sidewalks are for holding hands and staring at ourselves in the reflection, then for running away out of my grasp, me chasing her and catching her and kneeling down to talk about the dangers of a busy parking lot. It’s hard for me, disciplining her for rules I don’t follow myself – rules like actively practicing self-control when an adventure is just beyond the horizon. Disciplining too little seems to offer false realities, disciplining too much seems to quench the spirit. So most of the time, I smile and sing and distract and redirect, grateful that this tactic works for now, all while knowing it won’t forever.

But this is now, and tomorrow is tomorrow. And our post office adventure was full of so much good: the first game of “Airplane” in the grass after a harsh winter thaw, a successful diaper change in the backseat of the van (I always mess this one up) and a few rousing rounds of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” as we made grass angels on our backs, blades of fresh spring tickling our necks.

It just, it felt like forever. Like it was always us and it always will be, and I wondered why some days are good and some days are bad and some situations are easy to rise above but others hit us at the wrong moment and we flail. Ken ended up being turned away for Bee’s passport after roughly two hours of waiting, and – I’ll be honest here – this would have been a game-changer on a normal day. It would have meant a few unhappy moments of misplaced blame or unproductive complaints, but this was Adventure day.

So we shook it off and headed to the local pizza joint, which was closed because they’d run out of cheese (???) and we went to the next-best place on our list where bread is plenty and calories are high. Bee threw crayons and ate pickles and there were we were: three.

You know those days that are just… good? It’s like they’re good because we make them good, because we turn on our favorite song and we dance and we laugh and we make grass angels, and then we wonder why we don’t make every day good. Why we choose grumpiness over adventure and justice over grace and furrowed brows over toothy grins.

There was a lull in the afternoon where Bee and I had run out of things to distract ourselves with and the post office clerks were giving me a very clear vibe that P.O. boxes are not secret hide and seek capsules, so we went back outside to the sidewalks and landed on a grassy knoll to count the cars swooshing by.

And we counted and counted and then we’d pause, waiting for the light to change and a new wave of traffic to come, “Red car! Green car! Blue car!” and “One, two, three, four” and then “One again, two again…” because she can’t get all the way up to five because it’s too hard to say the V. And time stretched forever, really, and semi-trucks blew their horns for us as we waved, a surefire sign that the day was good and perfect and just for us.

And then we stretched out to make more grass angels, stamping that forever April afternoon into our hearts just as the sun began to sink into tomorrow.

Let’s waste time / Chasing cars / Around our heads
I need your grace / To remind me / To find my own
If I lay here / If I just lay here / Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
-Snow Patrol

p.s. This Sunday as we were putting on our coats for church, Bee looked up and saw that all three of us were leaving. “Post office?” she asked, and Ken and I both made a mental note, a silent confirmation that three is better than two.

  • Such beauty here, and in your day. It makes all the difference for us when I approach the adventure with the attitude that it WILL work, rather than MIGHT NOT. I love that, at this age, they’re so entertained by their reflections and by cars going by, and grass and “lowlers” in the field (if Bee isn’t on the pick-the-dandelion-flowers, get her there, stat!)…with the backup baby videos on the iphone if all else fails. Cheers to more We Are Three adventures, Erin!

    • Ha, we were just picking daffodils last week, so yes, we are THERE! :) You’re right – this is such a great age of entertainment. And baby videos on the iPhone = YESSSSSSS.

  • I swear that song is made for parenting! My teenager and I said it was written just for us as soon as it hit the radio. Plus why can’t post offices have playgrounds? They make stamps that are essentially stickers. If that doesn’t scream “children welcome” I don’t know what does! Happy 3-being :)

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