Today heading back on Cherry against fierce headwinds I would have given up and turned the corner for the nearest bus stop if I could have – that is, if I’d practiced popping off the front wheel to load the bike on the bus.* It wasn’t just the run-of-the-mill tiredness after working a school shift and biking with Nels against the wind, it was that I’d been running late this morning and Nels and I got absolutely dumped on (rain the likes I’ve never experienced before) which led to the compromise of even our winter-prepared gear and ultimately Nels spent his birthday – the last day in his 3 /4 preschool class – wearing tight Barbie jeans and a babydoll fluffy sweater (spare clothes of the preschool’s – and don’t think the wardrobe wasn’t his dream come true) and I never felt I got dry before I had to head back home.
Even worse for me was a pesky creepy Ju-on rattle emanating from the back of the bike: somehow the child’s seat is sitting lower than the 1/4″ clearance off the snap deck. Not only does this unsettle me (a potential safety concern), I also am not interested in my seat or snap deck being marred. It’s hard for me when something just eats away at me and I can’t fix it anytime soon.
I finally got home after dropping Nels off at my mother’s. I cleaned and sorted and emailed and filled out acres of paperwork for tomorrow’s pediatric dentist appointments, then picked up Sophie for some one on one time. My mother ended up taking Nels on a birthday shopping trip: a soccer ball, dump truck (for hauling dirt in the garden), socks, shoes, underwear, shorts, shirt, and hat. At four PM he swaggered out of her van all decked out and directing her to carry his parcels (reminded of: “Big mistake,” Julia Roberts sasses while toting huge shopping bags in Pretty Woman).
Tonight we dragged ourselves to Casa Mia (my foursome, my parents, and friend Jasmine) for our dinner and Nels managed to stay awake, although looking very sleepy (his second wind set in: he’s awake behind me as I type this). We had a magical moment as another table serenaded a sixty-something member with a happy birthday, erupting in operatic vocalizations and ending in a round of hearty applause. My husband took Nels over to introduce himself as another birthday and after making acquaintance the group sang even louder to Nels, the entire restaurant joining in as one – it was like listening to a choir performance. I wish I would have asked them who they were or how they came to sing so well. I was trying not to collapse into my dinner with some kind of exhaustion, but that didn’t prevent me from smiling like a fool and feeling the sting of tears.
The evening eventually wound to a close at my parents’ after birthday cake and gifts. Nels received four presents, two of them additional Lego sets which he has not stopped fixating on since two and a half hours ago. He tells me, “I’m happy on my birthday.”
* Last week the children and I rode out to the bus barn on the Aberdeen / Hoquiam border to practice my hand at quick loading of the bike on the front of a transit bus. After a few minutes waiting in the lobby a supervisor came out and told me she was sorry but due to insurance concerns the public were not allowed in the bus yard. She went on to tell me it was easy to put a bike on the front of the bus. I stopped her then and explained that no, it wasn’t – I had a special, extra-long bike I needed to take the front wheel off of to proceed. When it started to dawn on her I’d ridden my two children out the barn for the sole purpose of this practice run, she flushed and, from the looks of it, felt rather taken aback at her legalistic refusal. However, I’m not usually in the mood to ask someone to bend the rules. The handful of employees craned their necks out at the bike as I whisked us out and away. Nothing like leaving someone with that, boy do I feel like a douche feeling.