The other day I dropped my son off to Maggie’s. She had consented to watch him for a few hours before one of the Grands picked him up. When I got to the Swansons’ place, I was rushing. We were late. The boy delayed matters that morning.
He wasn’t as interested in eating breakfast as I expected him to be. His little lips closed when I offered his cereal. He, of course, didn’t obey when I told him to eat. At least not right away. He sat, taking me in, figuring me out. I saw his little mind working, wondering why I was glancing at the clock, why I was rushing his meal. I saw his brain turning, thinking how futile my anxiety was. The boy already knew that we, and I, were late. And he had no problem with lateness. He had no place to be except where he was. It became a little lesson for me.
So, there was me saying “Come here” to him. “Come put on your coat.” There was him looking at me, standing still in the doorway. There was the bottle to grab so he could drink when he arrived at the Swansons. There was the pacifer to put in the bag. Did I remember that? Even though he was officially off the thing, Dawn reintroduced it last week since he was sick. I disagreed. He didn’t need the mouth stop in my view, but sometimes I go along with other people’s programs. There was the coat to put on. I needed to bring the stroller. Grannie would walk him home. I forgot the spare set of keys.
When I got to Maggie’s, it was too early to greet her. I think I grunted. A thin layer of sweat always pops across my forehead when I’m late. I hate being late. Almost as much as I hate being yelled at. I have a thing about time. The boy doesn’t get that. He was waiting in the strapped seat for me. I pulled the stuff out of the trunk. I got him. Maggie was great, always is. When I ran through answers to her questions, I sounded quick. She knew I was late because I told her I was going to be there 2o something minutes before that moment. Maggie probably laughed inside, amused that I still don’t quite get how being a parent leaves you perpetually unable to schedule yourself well. It’s a loss.
I turned to leave. I heard Bryce wailing. Maggie picked him up. He’s aware of what it means when he’s at the Swansons’ or at one of the Grands’ homes. He knew I was leaving. He yelled. I turned, hearing and not hearing, thinking about my appointment and how late I was going to be. When I got to the car, I wondered if it would matter to me later on in his development that he no longer cried when I left. I wondered if it will bother me as much then as it did that morning because I was late, that I was off schedule, that I had something to be rearranged. It probably won’t. I’ll probably cry one day that the boy doesn’t care that I’m here or anywhere, and I’ll probably miss those tears I tasted when I kissed him goodbye in Maggie’s arms.