Friday was busy at work.
I had to cover court and deal with an early deadline because of the long weekend.
And to make matters worse, the office phone kept ringing and, for some reason, known only to people who work at a mysterious place called ‘help desk,’ my computer started acting weird.
But, seriously I’m here to tell you dealing with deadlines, non stop ringing phones and a malfunctioning computer was nothing compared to the pressure of dealing with a five-year-old who wouldn’t sit in his cousin’s car seat because it happened to be pink.
It all started when three of my grandsons, complete with pj’s, toothbrushes and backpacks brought their suntanned little selves into my world for a weekend visit.
I was, of course, delighted the way grandmas get delighted because they are old and momentarily forget that they are old and think they are grandmas (alias, superwomen).
That’s just wrong!
Anyhow, I had made a delicious picnic lunch of fried chicken, potato salad (okay, so I bought the salad), watermelon and Rice Krispies squares.
I packed the lunch carefully in a big red cooler, all the while thinking how fun it would be to go to the beach on a picnic with the boys and bond over the fried chicken and other delicious fare.
In my mind, I saw the boys chatting quietly with their grandparents over an old fashioned picnic lunch.
We would tell them stories about when we were young and they would be suitably impressed and we would feel very wise, indeed. Later, we would sit quietly on the deck and congratulate ourselves on having such well behaved grandchildren.
The sky was blue, the lake was bluer still and the air smelled like summer and little boys when we headed down to the lake.
I was super excited as I ran around to settle the five-year -old in his car seat.
That’s when the trouble started.
“I don’t like it,” he said, stubbornly. He pointed to his brother who was already strapped in and ready to go. “I want to get in his car seat,”
It is true that the car seat designated for him had belonged to his cousin and used to be pink but was now a dirty something or other color.
But, apparently, to Jacob, it was still pink.
I looked into the defiant blue eyes of the child, and for a fleeting moment I must admit I thought of work almost in a good way.
“You get in that car seat,” I said in my most firm grandma voice. “Please,” I added, chastising myself for resorting to pleading with a five-year-old.
“No,” he said, stubbornly.
It was boiling hot in the car which had not yet made it out of the driveway. It was, in fact, the perfect temperature for tempers to flare.
I thought of spanking the child. I thought of a time-out either for him or me.
And then I thought of my chicken and the carefully packed lunch in the trunk. I thought of the clock over the kitchen sink slowly ticking the afternoon away.
And I thought again.
“I’ll fix it,” I said. So I ran into the house and found a black sweater which I draped over the pink car seat.
The child watched me dubiously.
“I’ll try it,” he said, cautiously.
I waited anxiously for the verdict. His grandpa waited. His brothers waited.
“OK,” he said, finally. “I’ll sit here.”
We all breathed a sigh of relief.
And so we made it to the beach. It turned out the boys didn’t like fried chicken or potato salad, but the Rice Krispie squares were a hit as was the pitcher of iced tea.
My grandsons wore colored shorts and pastel T- shirts and, as I discovered in very short order, so did the two million other kids that swarmed the beach and picnic area that afternoon.
There was no time for bonding.
There was only me, shading my eyes against a sun that danced unconcernedly on the waves and turned the playground into a lovely shade of mellow yellow, frantically trying to keep my eye on three little boys dressed in colored shorts and pastel T shirts.
They were so quick those boys. Now you see them, now you don’t.
We arrived home safely and I tucked them all into bed.
And in less than a heartbeat, I followed.
After all, that was only day one of a very long weekend!
Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.