Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Five Minute Memories

 "Want to ride bikes with me outside, mommy?"

I glance over at the clock.  The minute hand has been marching steadily onward as husband played Candy land with the twins and Wyatt lingered too long over his fish sticks and the Sunday funny papers.

 We have five minutes. Literally.  Five.

After that, it's the nightly wind-down routine of bath, book reading, prayers, and bedtime.  Any other night, the late sunset of springtime might make me fudge bedtime by a few minutes, but tomorrow is day two of IOWA testing.  This mother well knows that staying up even a little late can make for one grumpy, overly tired boy.

Still, when my eyes meet his and I hear the orange dinosaur helmet click beneath his chin, I can't say no.

"Sure," I respond, already sliding my feet into well-worn pink Roper clogs.  Instantly, Wyatt rewards me with one of those face-splitting grins of childhood.  This is the grin of unabashed joy found by living in this moment alone, 100% unburdened by the choices of yesterday or the uncertainty of tomorrow.

Already, my choice is worth it.

The one problem is I haven't ridden on two wheels since before Wyatt was born.  I'm not even sure where my purple bicycle is.  And if I did, surely, its rubber tires have grown rigid and crackled from the persistent hundred degree heat of a half dozen or more Louisiana summers.

Wyatt mounts his orange workhorse and offers me his "new" green bike, the one he won last summer through the parish library's summer reading program but hasn't yet ridden much because it's hard for him to "start."  It won't be long, though.  By summer's end and another growth spurt marked on the wall chart, he will finally be able to touch the ground with more than just the tips of his toes.

I feel like a large square of paper being folded into a tiny paper crane, my extra large frog legs forming a right angle as I struggle to make them fit in the space between the handlebars and pedals.  Slowly, I pump them ungracefully through the quicksand gravel.  Wyatt drives equally slowly ahead, patient as he constantly looks backwards to make sure I'm keeping up.

Now empowered by several weeks of riding up and down the gravel drive, across the open hay field between the twin barns and our house, this boy thinks his mother should have just as much confidence. (She doesn't.)  He pedals patiently beside me, sure of himself even when I am not.
Together, we reach the halfway point of the drive; he shows me how to make a u-turn around the tree and starts back at a faster pace.

I tell him to go on ahead, ride as fast as he can, that I'll keep up.  He does, and I do, too.  But then, he slows again, says he wants to ride beside me.  Here, he is the teacher and I the student.  It's a role he plays well.  My heart melts at the care he shows me in this instant, but still, I fear crashing into him and urge him on ahead.

Husband is outside with the camera when we make it back to the carport.  Wyatt is all smiles.  Even the twins grin at the fun their brother is having.
Then, husband takes the bike from me, and the two of them start back down the drive for another quarter mile loop.  Wyatt gives his daddy no kind deference, though.  Daddy is not a student to be taught.  He is a competitor to be crushed.  Now, it's all about the race, about who can finish first.

Husband has to stand on the pedals to get started.  He looks even more amusing, crane-folded atop that too-small bike, but the twins think nothing of it, continue to cheer him on even as he clearly lets his oldest son win the race.
Just like that, the five minutes are up.  All the young ones groan, complain, and procrastinate, trying to extend this moment as long as possible.  I end up counting to three; they file in reluctantly.

It's just five minutes.  I could have spent them folding clothes, putting up the rest of supper's dishes, or any number of things.  Most of the time, that's just what I do.

But sometimes like tonight, I remember that five minutes is enough.  I build up a child.  And I make a memory worth keeping.

1 comment:

  1. We LOVE this! I heard Johnathan chuckling in the other room and came in to find him reading this, so of course I had to read it, too :) So fun and simple and profound. Can't WAIT to see you guys!