Spontaneity through Walk Days, Chinese Fire Drills, and Skipping
Lottie occupies the most of my time, but I still have to find time for me. She’s learned a trick that always works: when she needs help; she finds me in whatever room I have squirrelled away in and whispers, “Come ‘ere. Come ‘ere.” Then she grabs one of my fingers and pulls. And doesn’t let go as she walks off.
Lottie loves holding my finger while we walk down the street, and she also loves spontaneity. We often go for “Walk Days” and “Stroller Days” and “Bus Days” at her request; her request usually works— there’s usually an errand to run that involves the stroller or the bus, some errand that’s not urgent but that has been sitting around, twiddling its fingers, winking at me every once in awhile.
Walk Days, however, are not errands. They’re when Lottie and I walk out the front door together, holding hands, and I stop just long enough to lock the front door. Then Lottie gets to choose where we go. Last week, she scooped up a container of bubbles as I was locking the front door, and, like most moms, I ended up carrying it.
She led us to a care home that is run out of a house (as opposed to a big assisted living facility that’s more like apartments). The weather decided to be hot that day, and the shade on the sidewalk was most welcome. Lottie began walking on the railroad ties lining the yard. They run right alongside a chain-link fence: perfect for an adventurous toddler who is working on balance. I sat on said railroad ties and blew bubbles that floated into the road and into the giant pines on the opposite side of the road. It was the most magical part of my day.
Two of my literary heroes are Clarisse from Fahrehheit 451 and Stargirl. I love them because they find small bits of magic in every day and they’re each spontaneous. But not in a “let’s spend all our money on candy” or a “let’s go bridge-jumping tomorrow” kind of way. Because of them, I rub dandelions on the underside of my chin, and I send “Just Because I Love You” packages. Because of them, I teach my daughter how to twirl, and I skip with my son through the parking lot. I wave at bus drivers from the sidewalk, and I write messages in chalk to the kids getting off the school bus.
My hero used to be my dad, and he was the same way. He would shout across a lawn to one of the boy scouts he mentored, “Hey, Gary— catch!” Then Dad would run across the lawn and jump right in front of Gary, fully expecting the teenager to stick out his arms.
We were on a roadtrip one summer, and Dad saw a stream running along the road. We stopped the car and waded and splashed in it for an hour or so as a welcome break from sitting. We would often do Chinese Fire Drills at red lights, usually when the van was full of people. We were in San Antonio, and while waiting to go into a restaurant, he took his shoes off and stuck his feet in the river just outside the door.
He doesn’t do this stuff as often anymore. Part of it might have to do with age. Another part may be that I don’t live with him anymore, but at the end of last year, while waiting to be let into yet another restaurant, I went outside of the lobby to deliver a message from Mom, who was inside. And to my utter joy, I found a dance party on the porch with my siblings and cousins. They were getting their jitters out and their exercise in, and my dad was part of it.
Yes, of course I joined in. It was so much fun. And moments of fun can be made as well as discovered. They can be made without a whole lot of money. They may be a little embarrassing, but the laughter is worth the initial blush.