Yesterday presented a wonderful opportunity for me to experience the joys of my children in lesser denominations. In the morning, the “Littles” (Abra and Sam) joined me on my errand running around the delightful town of Winter Garden, FL. They wrestled in the aisles of the RV parts department as I attempted to explain to a rather flabbergasted sales lady that indeed our “gray and black water holding tanks are one in the same”. (That’s RV-speak for “we poop and shower into the same container under our bus”. Telling from the appalled look on her face, this is rather exceptional in camping circles.)
From there, we visited the public restrooms at the RV sales lot, where I repeatedly shouted, “Yucka!” at Sam as he persisted in perusing the wall-mounted, feminine hygiene receptacle, lifting it's metal lid up and down, a goofy smile on his face. He thought it was a game; I most certainly did not.
Then we got lost in our attempt to find Target, during which I continued to hear shouts from the back of the van, issuing various commentaries, questions and demands.
Sam: “I want candy!”
Me: “Well, if you are a good listener, we can get some gum at Target.”
Sam: “I want gum!”
Abra: “I wish I had a nice mama!”
Me: “Me, too.”
Abra: “Just kigging (kidding)! I love you, Mama! You are the best mama in the whole world.”
Me: “I love you too, Punky.”
Abra: “Now when are we are going to be there? This is taking forever!”
Me: “I totally agree.”
After we found Target and diapers and gum, I deposited the “Littles” back at the bus with Shawn for their naptime and picked up the “Bigs” (Cade and Lucy) for an afternoon at the Orlando Science Center.
What a different experience. The 25-minute drive to the museum was peacefully quiet, with Cade sharing the occasional punch-line from the comic strip book he was reading. When we got to the parking lot, everyone unbuckled him/herself; no one sat on the oil-stained concrete floor in retaliation for not being carried or screamed when they didn’t press the Level 2 elevator button in time.
When we entered the museum, each of us spoke at normal decibels; no need to warn anyone about “inside voices”. In the restroom, everyone wiped themselves and steered clear of the used sanitary napkins. When I asked them to come to an exbihit I thought was interesting, they didn’t giggle and dart in the opposite direction. They were, simply, more grown up. And I appreciated that.
Through the alligator and stingray exhibits, I watched my children ask thoughtful questions and make keen observations. They politely thanked the elderly nature guide who allowed them to pet her baby alligator. With an equal portion of intrigue and fear, they studied the skeletons of a T-rex and Triceratops.
One exhibit explained how to determine the age of a tree. All three of us stared with open mouths as we looked at the cross-section of a 300 year old tree.
“Mom, will the redwoods be bigger than this?” Cade asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I smiled. “A lot bigger.” And suddenly I couldn’t wait to be standing at the base of one of those majestic wonders, introducing my children to one of the oldest living things they will ever see.
As we studied the hundreds of rings, following them down to the center like a funnel of time, my eyes focused on a dark, solitary spot in the middle: a sapling began this beautiful giant.
We all come from humble beginnings.
We all start as “Littles”.