As soon as we got out of the car, my guy looked up appreciatively, pointed and said, "Air-pwane."
He watched fascinated as the huge plane flew low over our heads. I strapped him into his toddler stroller, and I knew we were going to have a good time. I had chosen the perfect place. He loves airplanes.
Off first to Target for that reward. I showed him wooden puzzles - no. I showed him cars - no. And he had already said he didn't care to get a book. Bummer.
"Alright," I said, knowing it was what he wanted anyway, "let's go look at the balls."
So we surveyed soccer balls, basketballs, playground balls, and plastic baseballs. He was sure he wanted a real softball, and I said no, but I had an idea. I took him to the fat plastic bats.
"Do you want one of these?" I asked.
"Red or blue?"
A blue one with red and blue wiffle balls to hit.
We happily started off to gather a few more things, and he beat his bat in a rhythm on the floor as we went along. We paused at men's apparel, and I jokingly pointed to bright orange, pumpkin boxer shorts and said we should get them for Papa. Then, in checkout, I let Danny Sam grab a small carton of Goldfish, and we headed over to the Starbucks for an apple juice and Mama's treat, a Salted Caramel Mocha - a seasonal flavor that makes the world a better place by giving simple folk like me the pleasure of drinking a chocolate-covered pretzel.
As we found a table by the window, a college-aged couple complimented my handsome guy, and I responded that he was our only blond, blue-eyed child. Then I poured him out a small mountain of Goldfish, and I dug into a warm cinnamon roll. We sat quietly, peacefully, and I reflected on how different this was. To sit so long enjoying a pretty coffee after a calm shopping trip. It so rarely happens for me.
Usually, wherever I go, I bring the Circus. There are acrobatics, wild animal behavior, death-defying feats, crazy laughter, dueling clowns, and one haggard looking ringmaster who has no control whatsoever over the acts. You can hear the wind-up organ - doot-doot-doodle-doot-da-doot-doot-doo-doo. Sometimes, the audience is kind and smiling encouragement, even laughing. Sometimes, the audience is chilly, and I expect to be hit with eggs or rotten tomatoes at any moment, and considering that we are usually in the grocery store, that is not at all unlikely.
So this date with my baby boy was a beautiful thing. No fights, no runaways, no horseplay. Just a fella and his mom out shopping on a pleasant September day with airplanes soaring overhead.
After we picked up his big sissy's modeling clay, we were off to look at Halloween decorations. I had to keep him from annihilating some breakables in this new store with his new bat, but once I parked him in a wide aisle, I asked his opinion on a cat, a witch and a mummy. I wanted the mummy, but I asked him whether he preferred the cat or the witch.
The sweet, young salesgirl probably thought I was a little kooky to be asking a two-year-old's opinion on my purchase - a propensity of mine that my husband has never understood. And a fellow shopper thought I was crazy to be shopping Halloween decor at all. "I'll wait til the day after and get it 60% off," she said. But I had a coupon and some good-natured envy of a friend's enormous collection of all things Halloween, so after hiding my blush at her statement of frugality, I waited on my boy who eventually chose the witch.
It was time to pick up big sister from preschool, so we walked across the enormous parking lot, watching planes departing for unknown destinations.
"Back? Back?"said my Danny Sam.
"Yes, they'll come back sometime."
I put him in his seat, and said with sincere gratitude, "Thank you for coming shopping with Mama, Danny. I had so much fun."
A hug, a "welcome", and we were on our way, but I will long remember my simple date with a special little man.