After breakfast I explained to Bryce that we had errands. I cook most Mondays. Me and Dawn had talked the other day about our joint schedules and what they meant for meal planning, what they meant for me really since I’m the one who likes to cook. The other day I needed to prepare food for several days or at least start the preparations for the next several days worth of meals. Dawn leaves for work as I start starting to wake up, while my son drags me to play the guitar or bang on the table or sing to birds flying by our window. Since Dawn’s started grad school, I’m trying to handle several evening things too. Like taking my mom home after she’s been with the boy and cooking dinner when we have to eat.
I reminded my eighteen-month old of these things. I told him that we needed to go to the grocery store to pick up the rest of the ingredients for dinner. We had to get turkey chops and chicken sausages.
He got his shoes, excited to leave. He yelled in that sing song way when he saw me pulling out his stroller. I always giggle when he does his yelling thing. His excitement excites me. He tried to help me open the stroller. He rushed. He rushed me. I told him to relax. Relax is one of my top five words or directions to my son. He hears it everyday, two or three times. I tell him to relax more than I tell him to pray. Perhaps relaxing is praying, but that’s another post. I’m convinced that his first full sentence will include the word relax. He’ll tell a woof woof, which is a dog in his mind, to relax. Or he will say thank you and relax to his grannie when she’s asked him for the fifth kiss in a row after walking in the door.
He stepped back to let me open the stroller. I put him in and turned him to the door. I do this so that he doesn’t see me leaving to collect whatever things I need while we’re out. He sees the door, knows we’re going to it. It’s one way I suggest that he focus and not bother his dad. It works for about two minutes. After that, I need to be back and I need to open the door and we need to leave. So I picked up the jump drive I needed and my wallet. We left the house. I was still trying to wake up. I felt sleep deprived. I was finishing that groggy phase—that time frame well into the third real hour of the post-Bryce day. I remember on our way to the elevator when I used to sleep in on my days off. I remember that I used to sleep.
We walk down the street. He’s looking at birds and squirrels and dogs. I’m concentrating on being awake. We take 52nd Street because he’s not seen 52nd Street in a while. We roll over sidewalks with huge cracks and breaks, and my son sighs and whoas and whees. An old woman, beautiful and kind in her face, observes out loud that daddy and son are out walking. I’m finally awake by then. I speak to her. She comments on the boy’s hair. All that hair, she says. Then she asks if he lets me comb it. I tell her he does but not his grandmother because she’s heavy-handed. I remember that hand, I tell the lady, rubbing some memory from thirty years ago at the top of my head. She smiles.
We get to Village Foods, the only place near my home where we can get these particular items. I basically go other places for everything else except the two items. My wife likes Village for other things. I don’t. So when we go in the staff there recognizes Bryce. They wave at him. They tell him how much he’s grown since they last saw him. Bryce says bye-bye, his cue that we should keep this moving.
We bought our items and left. We had another stop at CVS. There were pictures to develop. I’d started making a few collages at home. There were unfilled spots in the frame. I wanted to fill them. I also wanted to delete pictures from our memory card.
The people at CVS know my boy. One woman knows him by name because my mother walks to CVS for stuff with Bryce. I was surprised the first time I walked in and this lady started calling my son. I’m used to it now.
We sat at the machine, and I plugged my jump drive into it, pressing the screen so we could start. I didn’t realize that I had pictures from six years on the drive. I didn’t realize that we had taken 300+ pictures of our son and stored them on the drive for safe keeping. I selected most of the pictures after Bryce’s birth for printing. We needed to print everything so we could delete photos and have room on the memory card.
I didn’t know it would take an hour. I had almost perfectly timed our walk to the grocer and to the CVS. But usually when I print photos, it takes 5 minutes. It took a lot longer. Bryce was great, but I could see sleep convincing him that he should be silly and fretful and fussy. I entertained him. We put our hands in the cooler next to the machine which was busy spitting out pictures. I showed him pictures and we named the people in them. He enjoyed this, and that day everybody was daddy. Generally everybody is mommy because he likes his mommy more than he likes his daddy. But there is justice in the world sometimes.
I smiled as a woman took a passport photo. I turned Bryce to a case of ginger ale that was being delivered. The delivery man dropped it and the beverage spilled around us. I had no idea why I thought this would interest Bryce. The photo woman told me how nice it was and how important it was that both me and his mother get our time in. Later, when Bryce started getting bored, I thought to myself that I would gladly share some of my time.
After the pictures printed, I paid and thanked the people for putting up with all my son’s screams and songs. I told them that we had spent so much time there that he would make a great staff person at a CVS when high school came around; he would already be oriented.
We made it home 25 minutes after he’s usually down for that nap. He was quiet on the walk back. In fact, all day Monday was an exception to the last several days of his melting and yelling and dramatically telling us how bad he felt in the form of screams. He was on his way out as soon I told him to walk to his changing table. After a fresh diaper snugged him, he went to the bed, lifted his arms, and turned to me. I picked him and put in down. He gave me about an hour and a half of silence.