When They Do High Fives, It’s Time to Go

The wall of floor-to-ceiling windows ran the length of the waiting room, which was about the size of a two-car garage. I sat on a black pleather couch on the right side of the room, my bag and jacket beside me, along with the sports section of yesterday’s newspaper. The sports section was there when I sat down.

I had brought my car in about 10 minutes before. The light that signaled “oil change needed” had clicked on a week or so earlier. That morning, I was driving—en route to someplace else—and saw the sign for the local auto repair shop. I stopped, impromptu.

The gentleman inside was older, mostly bald, wearing a rumpled, short-sleeve white dress shirt. We exchanged “good mornings,” and I asked if they had time for my oil change.

“Have you been here before?” he asked.

“You all fixed my air conditioning last summer,” I said.

They would have my oil changed within 45 minutes, he told me.

And they did.

As I was waiting, I worked my way through some emails, did some writing. Another older man walked through the waiting room with a brown, four-cup carrier of coffees from Stewart’s; I wished one was mine.

I’ve been running around like crazy for weeks now, it seems, and possibly, so have you. It’s always something, isn’t it? Deadlines, oil change, part of an order that needs to be returned because reason 25) wrong item sent.

That morning, I was driving—en route to someplace else…

After the oil change, I continued to my destination: kindergarten registration for my younger daughter, my baby. The registrar’s office was located at the school district’s high school. The night before, I had gathered all the required documents: Anna’s birth certificate, multiple proofs of our residency, current immunization record.

Anna watched me. “Are you sure you don’t want to come with me tomorrow, honey?” I asked her.

She shook her head and then smiled. “I bet the kids there will think you’re a mystery reader, Mom.”

“Awww, honey.” I smiled back. “I don’t think high school kids have mystery readers anymore.”

Anna remained skeptical.

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Both Grace and Anna began ice-skating lessons this month, a beautiful Christmas present from Stanton’s mom and dad. Thus, the girls and I have been spending our Sunday afternoons this winter at the local ice rink.

Anna’s lesson is first, followed by Grace’s. Then there’s “open skate” for anyone who’d like to stay and keep skating. Grace always does; Anna reliably doesn’t.

Where is Stanton during all this fun, you might wonder? Well, about a year ago, he joined our church’s choir, and the choir just so happens to practice during the same time frame as the girls’ ice-skating lessons. Funny how schedules can work out sometimes. 😉

There’s a bit of an art to dressing for winter sports, including ice skating. When you start out, whether you’re outside or in, you’re going to be cold. You need a warm jacket, heavy socks, gloves.

Once you start moving, though, you’ll get hot. So you need another layer or two underneath, for when you unzip or remove the first layer. And with ice skating, especially with children, you need to give yourself at least five minutes, but preferably closer to eight, to get the skates laced up. It’s a bit of an art, and a bit of a process.

This past Sunday, the gray door to the indoor ice rink clanged shut behind the girls and me. I gestured to the counter to our right. “Let’s get your skates, team.”

I got Anna layered and laced up. Grace and I walked her to her coaches. “Have so much fun, honey,” I said. “I’m right here if you need me.”

“I won’t need you,” my baby declared.

Man.

It’s a bit of an art, and a bit of a process.

While Anna had her lesson, Grace and I sat in the bleachers. This month, I have really been appreciating this time together with Grace while Anna skates. I feel as though Anna often is with me, but Grace not as much because she has school plus after-school activities. It has been truly wonderful, then, to simply hang out and chat with my older daughter. Hanging out, chatting, really seeing each other.

My time with Anna, while Grace has her lesson, is a little less chatting and a little more running around: the water fountain, the restroom, the stack of magazines that Anna likes to flip through in search of rip-and-sniff perfume samples.

After Anna and I had been waiting for Grace a while, Anna suddenly announced, “It’s all done.”

I glanced toward the ice. Folks were still out there. “How do you know, honey?”

“They’re doing high fives.” Anna tugged on my arm. “Come on, Mom. When they do high fives, it’s time to go.”

I’m always struck when a child makes this sort of announcement—wisdom, matter-of-fact, from the youngest among us.

From the earliest ages, human beings look—look around—begin to understand how the world works.

Anna was right about the high fives. Moments later, my daughters and I headed home.

 …wisdom, matter-of-fact, from the youngest among us.

Anna will turn 5 in a few weeks. Per Anna’s request, I’m planning a low-key, dinosaur-themed birthday party. One of the bullet points on my to-do list this week, along with the oil change and kindergarten registration.

“What do you want your theme to be, Anna?” Grace had asked her little sister. This is often my daughters’ first question regarding event planning.

Initially, Anna had wanted dragons, but—this may or may not surprise you, friends—dragon-themed party supplies are hard to come by.

“How about doughnuts?” I suggested. “We could get doughnut balloons, and decorate doughnuts…it would be so cute!”

Anna frowned at me. “Your birthday can be themed doughnuts, Mom. I want dragons.”

For the record: My April birthday will not be themed doughnuts. There will, in fact, be no theme. Except perhaps, “Let Mom sleep in.”

Eventually, we settled on dinosaurs for Anna.

I remember everything about when each of my daughters was born, eight years ago for Grace and almost five years now for Anna. I remember everything. It all feels like both “just yesterday” and “so long ago.”

This past weekend, the girls and I were grocery shopping. Anna was sitting in the cart, which I was pushing through an aisle. Grace was searching the shelves for pancake mix, the last item on our list.

I must have mentioned that a friend was getting married because Anna said, “When I grow up, I don’t want to get married. I want to live with you forever, Mom.”

“Awww, you definitely can live with me forever, sweetheart.”

“I’m not sure if I want to get married, Mom,” Grace noted, “but I do want my own house. Maybe I’ll live next door.”

I hugged my daughters. “Perfect.”

A gray-haired woman, pushing her cart past us, glanced back and smiled. “I’m actually planning my youngest child’s wedding now,” she said.

I smiled back. “Did it all go by fast?” Everyone always says it does—probably because it’s true.

She snapped her fingers. “Like that.”

Like that. I could believe it.

“Found it!”

I turned my head and took in Grace again, triumphantly holding a box of pancake mix.

Pancake mix. High fives. Time to go.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short story, “Backtrack.” An engaging read that’s can’t-put-it-down good.

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