We got ourselves a bit of a drought problem here in California. The Governor has declared a “State of Emergency,” which generally means it’s time to get serious. A friend of mine who writes about such things reminded me yesterday that we endured a similarly serious drought in the 1970s, principally by adopting a whole slew of water-conserving behaviors. My friend posed the question, “Why did we ever stop doing those things?” It’s a good question. Perhaps one reason is that we’ve become numb to all the dire warnings, resolved to a fate of extreme weather, flooded cities, and the host of other climate change calamities that seem unavoidable.
In case you were bracing yourselves for a righteous sermon on living the eco-friendly life, you can relax, I’m gonna save that for another day (if in fact there is another day — just kidding, or maybe I’m not, who the hell knows). Instead, I’m going to dole out a little of Grandma’s Lemonade, which my youngest son Everett mixed up unknowingly (or maybe not so unknowingly) on the way to the school bus stop this morning. Let me set the scene by admitting that I overslept big time today. On Wednesdays, my wife goes for an early morning run with a buddy of hers. She typically gets the dog and boys up and out in the mornings. So Wednesdays mean that I’m on duty. But I neglected to set my alarm last night, possibly due to the distraction of my evening Dexter binge–now going on for several weeks. I can’t be stopped. Instead of a sweet little Fitbit buzzing my wrist like a wasp just before it stings, I woke up to Hilary, just back from her run: “Keir, it’s 7:20!”
I refuse to panic and for some reason fancy myself the type that likes to run into burning buildings. Or in this case, jam a fairly hellacious morning to-do list into the 23 minutes before the school bus picks up my boys 3 blocks away. My older Son Max thrives on emergency situations, real or imagined. That and some rough licks on a bare back by our over zealous pup created the perfect recipe for Max to bound out of his bed like a plebe in boot camp. Everett required a more deft touch, sort of how people used to roll a reluctant car down the street, get some momentum, then pop the clutch. Do people still do this? Seems dangerous (another burning building, hmm). The boys’ other grandma (my wife’s mom, “Mima”) might be pleased to learn that the croissant/cinnamon bun Armenian roll called a “Choerag” but pronounced “chiddegg” (more in later blogs on my abnormal fascination with Armenian names that likely slides me up pretty far along on the Autism spectrum–more, too, on my theory of said spectrum, but here’s a teaser: I think we’re all somewhere on that spectrum only it’s more like a MacPaint color wheel)…anyhow, Mima, it turns out that two pushes of the TOAST button on apparently nuclear toaster oven will actually thaw out 2 rock-solid Choerags and two equally frozen sausage links. The perfect on-the-go, young artery-clogging breakfast that can be “et” (I prefer this past tense to “ate,” in a nod to my humble Upstate New York roots) neatly while on a full sprint to the bus stop.
Back to Grandma’s Lemonade. Ev was clutching his recently-frozen Choerag, speed-walking to the bus stop with me and our dog Wailea with about 90 seconds to spare. Wailea of course chose this moment to enjoy her morning movement. This is generally not a quick affair, made increasingly delicate of late due to the unpleasant marriage between big dog and tiny purple poop bags made for a Toy Poodle. It’s like a grown up game of “Operation,” only making a fat-fingered mistake here has far more dire consequences than a buzzing sound and an illuminated red nose light. This is the laser-focused, emergency room triage state of mind I’m in when Ev makes up a quick batch of Grandma’s Lemonade for me. First, remarking with genuine scientific wonder at Wailea’s creation, he says “Woah, it’s steaming!!” I offer (identifying one of those “teaching moments” good parents are told to seize, fragile bag of hot poop be damned), “Well, our body temperature is almost 100 degrees, and it’s colder outside right now.” Then Everett responds, “Oh, is that because of the drought?” I belly-laugh, and take another sip of that sweet and tart juice. “No, buddy, our bodies are always that warm, it’s not because of the drought or global warming or anything like that.” (By now you may be picking up on why I started today’s blog as I did.) Poop emergency averted but bus stop emergency still en fuego, Ev then sees some neighborhood friends dash onto a city bus decked out in their school uniforms. He asks, “Why do they take a city bus to school?” I resist the impulse in my rushed state to make a snarky comment about the whole private school thing and I don’t have it in me to laud my neighbor’s eco-friendliness in my current state. Ev saves me, answering his own question with, “Oh I know why, they probably just want to avoid all the yelling.” I laugh again, reminded of the Lord of the Flies environment that our kids suffer (or stir up, depending upon whom you ask) twice each school day. Then finally, Ev tops off my glass with one final observation, “I hate Wednesdays. On Wednesdays, Alex (not his real name) says, ‘Ooh look at that squishy thing!’ and pinches my butt.” By this point I am smiling widely, chuckling, and frankly happy to be alive and to be this boy’s father (student?).
So random, so delightful, and what a wonderful gift childhood is–and parenthood, vicariously–to be able to recognize and celebrate a steaming pile of poop, a Muni bus ride, and a pinched butt. All in one of those time-compressed, eyes-on-the-prize, no-time-to-smell-the-roses (or drink the lemonade) moments we encounter every day.
And by the way, in case you’re wondering, my perfect record of missing the school bus not once over the past 8 years? Intact. (But you will have to overlook the slightly-burnt Choerag in this morning’s bus stop blog photo).