September 13, 2011

With sprinkles

“How about we go for ice cream?” Little Biker Boy asked when I picked him up. The evening was warm enough for short sleeves, and the ice cream shop in Traintrack Village was still open for the season. As soon as we bought the cones, he said, “Hey, can we go for a walk? I don’t have to be home until 8 o’clock.”

A walk seemed like a good idea. Little Biker Boy had had a bad day at school, and when I’d picked up him, he’d been sullen and angry. The fresh air might help his mood. 

Church bells began tolling as we walked down the street towards a big church built from grey stones. I motioned for him to sit down on the steps. He looked up at the stained glass windows apprehensively. “Can we sit here?” he asked nervously.

I shrugged. “Sure. It’s my church. Or at least, it used to be. I was baptized here. My parents brought me here every Sunday when I was a kid. I’ve been here hundreds, no, thousands of times.”

As the music chimed, I couldn’t help but think back to the times I’d stood on these steps, waiting to enter. On the day of my First Communion, I wore a filmy white dress that to this day is the prettiest dress I’ve ever owned. I was only seven, but I can still close my eyes and picture that dress. On the evening of my eighth grade graduation, I stood on those steps with Kindergarten Friend and Outdoor Girl, the three of us nervous and excited about leaving our little elementary school. I stood on those same steps the morning of my wedding, surrounded by my sisters. On the morning of her wedding, I gave Kindergarten Friend a hug on those steps, just before preceding her down the aisle.

“I never been in a church,” said Biker Boy.

We climbed up to see if the doors were unlocked, but they weren’t. So we continued on to the familiar brick building on the next block. The door near the gym was propped open, and a whole group of middle-aged women were gathered inside, singing.

“Some kind of choir practice,” I said to Biker Boy. “Just be quiet as we walk through.”

As we walked through the school and then around it, I told him stories about my childhood. “That’s where my second grade classroom was. The teacher was this nun who liked to dance so every afternoon, we’d push back all the desks, and she’d teach us how to dance.”

I think the stories of my quiet, sheltered childhood would bore most people, but Little Biker Boy listened eagerly. Then we sat down on the steps near the gym where we could hear singing. It wasn’t a song, really, but some kind of practice. The women all kept singing the same syllable over and over.

“It sounds cool,” Biker Boy whispered. He snuggled up against me.

It was getting dark as we walked back to the car. As we drove out of the village, Biker Boy said, “Hey, look!”

In the field on the edge of the village, firefighters had gathered for what looked to be some kind of training session. They were all wearing protective gear, and they had a hose out. We stopped to watch for a few minutes.

“I’m going to be a fireman someday,” Little Biker Boy said.

“I think you’d be good at that,” I said. “If my house were on fire, I’d feel very safe knowing that you could come rescue me.”

By the time we drove home, the roads were dark, and the almost-full moon had risen in front of us.

12 comments:

Phil said...

I know that this is borderline spam, but I get nothing from it and only suggest it because it might be a fun activity for you and Biker Boy (or maybe even your kids). A client of mine sells this ice-cream maker. It would be a way to pass some time, learn something, with a reward at the end.

AnnetteK said...

This was lovely.

Jeff said...

">> I think the stories of my quiet, sheltered childhood would bore most people, but Little Biker Boy listened eagerly. Then we sat down on the steps near the gym where we could hear singing. It wasn’t a song, really, but some kind of practice. The women all kept singing the same syllable over and over.

“It sounds cool,” Biker Boy whispered"

How often others can appreciate the little, simple pleasures and quiet recollections which we may ourselves take for granted. Very nice.

jo(e) said...

Phil: Oh, I used to do that with my kids when they were little. Except we just used two ziplock bags.

liz said...

Jo(e), this is such a beautiful post.

readersguide said...

Ahh -- I've been wondering what LBB was up to. I think he'd make a good fireman, too.

Kathryn said...

Jo, the support you give him is beautiful. He will hang on to your words his whole life. Hearing from you that he is strong and gentle, 'just like' your boys, and that you'd trust him to protect you is so powerful.

Songbird said...

I'm so glad you're still able to see him.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I think you're giving LBB a history.

I took a computer class once that was taught by a guy who also taught local, community history to young black men in a poor part of LA. They actually met before school started... He insisted that knowing your own history was empowering; he believed it was extremely important to know your local history, of which you are an active part. I believe that too.

Kyla said...

You are so good for him. I'm glad you have each other.

BrightenedBoy said...

I love what a detailed history you have with that church. The idea of you graduating elementary school on the same steps where you held your wedding is so fascinating.

Spending your whole life in a small town has got to be rewarding in some ways.

And the stories of your sheltered childhood aren't boring at all. They're warm and touching. I'm glad Little Biker Boy gets to hear them, and, through you, experience some warm moments of his own.

kathy a. said...

very lovely, jo(e).