Slice of Life 5:
He didn’t question why I was still in pajamas and partly in guilt, partly in attempting to keep the peace, I didn’t offer any information. Since my school has been granted a snow day, I’m lazily sippin coffee in my charcoal pajama pants and sweat shirt as I go about my normal morning routine of making a lunch (one less today) let the dog out, clean clothes, teeth brushed, homework packed, shoes on…Alright, let’s go!
The Earth is just beginning to wrap itself in the bleached blanket of bundled snow. It descends at an alarming speed. As I pass the blue shovel that leans against the iron railing, I just hear it call to me with a smug grin, See you later baby. I missed you. Did it just wink at me? I trudge on to the car.
I clean off the car speedily while Michael sits in the front seat, looking uncomfortable and almost immobile, with his sweater bulging out from his oversized jacket. I think of Ralphie’s little brother from A Christmas Story and smile at him through the window, as he sits mutely in the front seat. He looks confused at my unexpected smile, but gives me a consolation smile in return regardless.
“Whew! Alright, ready Freddy?” Michael responds with a less enthusiastic, almost inaudible, “Yes.”
I motion for the wind shield wipers to finish the job as I pull the gear into drive. Away we go. We drive four short blocks and Michael’s school comes into view.
“Ok baby, you’re going to do awesome on your test today. Try your hardest, focus, and do your best. You know mom’s proud of you, right?”
“Wait a second. I’m not going to before school?”
Uh-oh. Busted. The truth has finally arisen on Michael’s horizon. He sees the light.
“No, not today.” My mind scrambles for the words.. How do I soften this blow? “Because of the snow.”
Michael loves before school program. On a normal work day, I would drop him off an hour earlier and he would be given the chance to run around and let out some steam before class. On this day, relishing in the newfound, unexpected grant of time, I figured it wasn’t necessary.
“Mike, not today, ok? You just have to accept it.”
“No. There is no accept. I do not want to accept. What!?”
We pull up to the drop off.
“Michael give me a kiss. I love you. I want you to have a great day.”
Silence. He is grappling for his enlarged book bag which seems wedged between the dash and his seat.
I wait. In silence he yanks the bag free and opens the door.
Wait a second. I’m frozen as I wait for a response. Wait for it. Wait for it.
The snow is flooding from the sky as he steps out of the car, and…
I’m waiting- frozen.
He shuts the door.
No. Is he really going to walk away and not give me our ritual kiss? I’m confused. This can’t be happening. Not yet! He did it. He closed the door and reassembled his book bag onto his shoulder more securely. Not sure whether I should call him back into the car and reprimand or let my little big man live with the guilt of his decision of breaking his poor mom’s heart (I would assume he would be guilty, wouldn’t he?). I just sat there- still leaned slightly over the passenger’s seat- with one hand firmly grasped on the steering wheel.
Michael pivoted slightly to the right towards his school, and then, as if he heard my heart calling..
He puts his hand back onto the car door handle. Oh sweet Jesus, thank you.
Without a word, he opens the door and leans, with a tiny smirk on his face, and gives me a kiss.
“I love you. Thank you.” I respond with more gratitude than he can comprehend.
This moment. I will be more honest with him. He can handle it.
This moment. Maybe it’s the beginning of the end. I’d like to freeze it. Freeze those kisses. Just like the snow that blankets the Earth, I know our daily kisses will not be here forever. For now, just like my snow day…For now I’m going to savor it- Be thankful.
I am- as I watch him race all the way to the school doors. He turns around one time before disappearing past the door and gives me a smile. I wave and a grateful smile spreads and warms me right through.
I drive away like this, as the snow continues to fall.