Today was nothing like I expected. When I found out today was a snow day, I planned to pick up the house, drop Robbie off at school after his two-hour delay, take the dog to get groomed, go to school to get organized, and see a movie by myself. My plans were thwarted early on when, after dropping Barkley off to be groomed, I realized that school was canceled for Robbie.
We stopped to get coffee and a donut (for me) and a banana muffin (for Robbie) before heading over to my school. Just yesterday, I told a colleague that I needed four uninterrupted hours to get my classroom organized. I couldn’t waste a snow day not taking care of this. When I told Robbie about our plans, I expected resistence. Maybe even a little crying. Instead, I heard, “I get to go to your school? Will we see your friends? I’m bigger and bigger and get to go to Mommy’s school!”
He was patient and wonderful for three hours. Sure, he went “fishing” with my ball of twine, resulting in a web of string around all of the tables in my classroom. And he made me a double dipper, something I acted excited to receive until I realized what it was: shredded Kleenex and gum wrappers in the half-full bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper we claimed from the vending machine with the five quarters, two dimes, and one nickel that were supposed to serve as his lunch money. Robbie chased Milkshake (the class bunny) around the room and ran through the halls barefoot. He helped me recycle papers, moved chairs across the room for me to stack them. and pushed heavy tables around to help me create a new seating arrangement.
His reward was Chik-fil-a — with a play space. He played for an hour, stopping for brief gulps of juice and a hurried bite of chicken nugget. At one point, he stopped while climbing to the top of the structure and looked out the little window, searching for me. Our eyes met, and he lit up, holding his hand up with the “I love you” sign displayed. I signed back, and he blew me a kiss and pretended to hug me from afar. Then, with a big grin, he bolted up the next stair. It stopped my world. This little boy loves me enough to stop playing and tell me he loves me. And I could have missed that if school had been in session.
We left the restaurant after an hour, heading to Target to buy a birthday present for a friend and a Valentine’s surprise for my favorite sister. He spent much of the ride talking to himself (we had established earlier that he was just talking to himself, not to me). I enjoyed just getting to listen to him. He has a sweet voice, which I don’t always take the time to appreciate. And then, in the midst of his babble, he whispered, “I’m having a really great day.”
We hadn’t done anything in particular. In fact, the only really fun thing we’d done was the play place. But then I thought about it. He’d gotten to take his dog to get a bath and a hair cut. He got to flirt with the ladies at The Daily Grind. He went to a big kid school and talked to someone who knows his Nona. He played on the computer and played with a bunny and met a new friend who was there with his father. He succumbed to being tickled, howling with laughter. He put quarters into a vending machine and got a drink out and pretended to fish. He pushed and pulled heavy furniture around and ran barefoot through the halls. He fed two turtles and got a lei and was able to get water out of one of those fancy water dispensers. And then he went to lunch with a play place, where I did something I never do. I let him play as long as he wanted — waiting to leave until he was actually finished with his fun, encouraged to go back and play a little more.
Our day continued to get better. We surprised Aunt Hilary with candy and pencils and heart stickers. Robbie got to offer candy to everyone in Hilary’s office. He went to pick up his dog, who was thrilled to see him. And Robbie got to help me make chocolate chip cookies. It was a far cry from everything I envisioned for today. Perhaps I would have gotten more finished if Robbie had been in school (I found out tonight that closing school for the day was a tough call and almost didn’t happen). But I wouldn’t have taken the time to really enjoy the person his is right now, the person who finds such joy in so many small things. So, thank you, Tobie. Thank you for giving me a day to fully appreciate the wonderful young man in my life. I needed it more than I realized.