December 7, 2002 - Saturday
When I started this journal nearly three years ago I wanted avoid a lot of reciting of daily events, instead recalling the experiences, emotions, and quandaries of being a parent. But, I'd like to remember this morning just as it was. It might not mean much if you weren't there to see his happy face, but I was.
It almost didn't happen, my wonderful morning driving with Harry. His mother left for the grocery store with Jeremy without taking Harry's carseat out of the car. She has been taking the boys to the grocery store Saturday mornings and it's been an outing in which all three took some pleasure, but one, says mommy, of which Harry has been growing tired lately. I've used that time sans enfant to catch up on work or chores around the house, but with none pressing except going to the dump and we decided to split the boys up and have Harry stay with me. After all, the last time Harry went to the dump was a nice little outing and Harry liked the idea today, too. Fortunately, Harry's old infant seat, rigged into forward rather than rear-facing position with a big moving van blanket underneath, seemed to suffice and, maybe, curiously, even added to the adventure for Harry. Aside from being impatient at the delay, he didn't seem to mind the somewhat awkward belt straps across his waist or that the seat straps he wore more than two years ago where rather snug. Once we started going, car packed full of garbage bags and recycling bins, it was much like our last trip to the dump, although this time Harry noted that he didn't like the smell. The dump's backhoe was driving around down by the recycling dumpsters and maybe that help establish the very positive tone for the morning, but, just like last time, Harry had fun helping throw the plastic and glass bottles into their respective places and then watched me throw the big bags of garbage into the bigger dumpsters.
But, it was along the way home that was most fun. Harry was in a good mood, perhaps because he'd done this one time before and was, in his way, more comfortable with the possibilities. He was clearly enjoying the view from the rather elevated infant seat, especially on one of the roads now know to Harry as "the bouncy road."
"I want to go on another bouncy road," Harry said at the end of the particularly curvy and hilly street. So, instead of turning for home I turned toward the backstreets of town, not really knowing where we would go, just enjoying the happiness of the boy sitting next to me in the car. I hit the brakes hard when I realized we were passing the road that leads to our town's "bumpy road" (not to be confused with the bumpy road on the way to preschool or the aforementioned bouncy road).
"Should we go on the bumpy road?" I asked, backing up slightly and turning down a street that would soon turn into a dirt road.
"Yeah," agreed Harry.
A recent snow had left the bumpy road's rich woods a true spectacle, with green spruce limbs covered with puffs of white reaching out to and over the thin dirt road, itself covered with snow and tire tracks in the snow. Yet, the trees were not so thick as to mask the mysterious, yet cozy sightlines into a high contrast forest of whites and darks. After we were through and looped back on a different street to near the place we'd first turned, Harry said he wanted to go on the bumpy road again.
The bumpy dirt part of the road is actually short - a tenth of a mile, maybe two at most - but it is almost all down hill in the direction we had gone, and sometimes quite steep. "Mommy's car" has four wheel drive, but that wouldn't help if we started to slide. Indeed, during the first time we went down it the image of sliding into a tree with Harry loosely strapped into a makeshift child seat made the trip a particularly deliberate one for me driving. Nonetheless, I acquiesced to Harry's request to go on the road again, but this time decided to approach it from the other side so the four wheel drive might do more work.
"I want to see the sky," said Harry as we neared the top of the bumpy road hill. I didn't immediately know what he meant, but quickly remembered how on the way home from the dump last time I had tried opening the roof of the car. It was much warmer that day, but Harry didn't like it, or didn't understand it, and so I shut it quickly. Now, he was ready to try.
"But, it's very cold outside, Harry. Are you sure you want the top open?"
"Yeah," he said, so I turned the car around to go down hill on the bumpy road one more time, now feeling a little more comfortable with the traction, and opened the roof.
"But, what if the snow falls into the car?" I said rhetorically with a giggle of adventure. Harry giggled, too, and as we drove under the green branches covered with white, we said things like "I hope it doesn't fall." When a wind blew and raised a few flakes we said, "oh no, here comes some," with a laugh. Harry looked up at the trees and the sky and he was smiling.
"I want to open my window," he said somewhat deviously, but not being able to reach the lever from the constraints of the infant seat.
"Oh, Harry, it would be really cold"
"I want it open," he said with both glee and determination and I reached over and unrolled with window. Maybe it was 35 degrees outside. I turned on the heat. What the heck, I rolled down my window, too, and turned on the blower.
We drove home, past a big town pond that we approached from high above, went by horse farms and fields, and cows, all with the windows open and we talked about it being cold, the horses, or the roads, or just sat there enjoying the ride.
Mommy got home from the store with Jeremy just as I was finishing unloading the recycling bins from the car.
"I don't like it that you took my seat" Harry scolded. But, I think it was more for effect than anything else. I don't think he really cared. He was a happy boy and he was going to play in the snow outside. I didn't really mind either. It worked out pretty well without it.