If I said it once, I said it a hundred times, after we learned my grandson was on the way. I don’t know the first useful thing about little boys.
Sure, I have a little brother. I still call him that, though he is a handsome six-feet-plus and more than a half-century in birthdays logged. He was an adorable child, that much I remember, but six years younger, so his toddler inclinations didn’t linger in mind through the mists of time.
And I raised a girl, a glorious, gorgeous, heart-stopping girly-girl, of the pink-sequins-dress-up-and-doll-loving sort, now the maternal unit of my pint-sized male traveling companion.
So, let’s get this on the table up front, and you may consider it comprehensive: When it comes to this man-child, I never have a clue what I am doing. But four years into this romp, close observation indicates that the daily pattern has a few common elements. The sequence seems to run something like this:
2. Perpetual motion
4. Additional perpetual motion
5. Pre-meal snack
6. Alternative perpetual motion
7. Pre-snack meal
8. Negotiation of post-meal snack
9. Frenzied, heightened motion
10. Post-meal snack and articulation of requests for next meal
So on our first road trip together, a journey of an entire hour that both parties survived with minimal angst and only a few bits of food stuck to our clothes in random places (see list above, and imagine in-car variation), we arrived at the Apple Festival between what I gauged to be List Items 5 and 6.
It was the happiest timing imaginable. At the Apple Festival—where a professional marketer would say they deliver to their target audience with admirable, laser focus—Perpetual Motion could be expended until the small one went face down from sheer exhaustion. There were slides of varying sizes, an obstacle course, a sandbox, a hay-bale maze (with slide), and he bounded from one to another, and back again, and again. All I had to do was jog behind and stay close enough to try and catch a few Kodak moments.
And then it was time to eat (see items 7 and 8, above). There was a brief pretense of trying a meat sandwich, but we did not linger long on this ruse, because there was an Apple Slushie, which helped wash down a fried apple pie. Then we plunged across the finish line with a boost to the nutritional balance in the form of a caramel apple the size of a softball. It crosses my mind briefly that his mother is going to kill me, but I can’t dwell on such thoughts, or my own apple pie will go cold, or get carried off by the handsome farm dog, loitering optimistically nearby.
Re-energized by this Apple Feast, he opts for a few more rounds on the hay bales and slides, til finally he is spent, the galloping slowed to a walk, the fair cheeks flushed, the hair soaked. It’s probably time to go, I venture, and when he does not resist, I know we have given our utmost.
I buckle him into his seat, where he clutches his pumpkin souvenir, with a smaller one for his younger sister. Was that fun? I ask, as I wipe a dusty streak of sweat from his hairline. “Yeah,” he manages, leaning his head back, relaxing, at last, and still. I push for details as I back out of the parking space and point the car homeward. What was your favorite?
But he has already moved on to list item 11, and there is no more to be said for now.