Saturday, January 23, 2016

Street Scene

The other day my son and I were walking out of the house for our afternoon tractor ride. Tractor as in our neighbors at the end of the street have a pedal tractor, which means I get to be the engine when it comes to hills and tough terrain around the woods behind our house. It’s like CrossFit, only with nonstop observations.

Look, a stick.

Remember when we saw a deer?

Whose rock is that?

So we were still in the driveway, when down the street I heard some arguing. Loud, explicit arguing in front of one of the houses between us and the tractor. A young lady girl was yelling in the street for all to hear, F--- this and F--- that and so on.

I held my son back. “Hang on, bud, let’s wait,” I said, not wanting to walk past the string of profanities littering the street but also not wanting to make a big deal out of the shouting.

This was a week before his third birthday, and it’s getting increasingly more and more difficult to pull one over on this kid. He makes connections. He reads my thoughts. He's sneaky good at making deals. Without a hitch, he motioned to the girl, spewing her classy f-bombs into another car—something about another girl, or shorty as she put it. When he spoke his voice matched the innocence in those eyes of his.

“She’s not happy?”

I shook my head. “No, she’s not happy. Here, let’s go inside for a minute.”

“No," he said, pulling back from me and still eyeing the scene. "I don’t want to."

Now, there were a few different way to go about this. I could have marched right down there and told them to keep it down. We could have ignored them, although that would have been tough, because as my son so diligently pointed out, the girl was not happy. Hell, I could have called the cops I suppose. But it didn’t look like a violent situation. Just loud. So instead, knowing my kid wasn’t about to go inside without a fight—not after being promised a tractor ride—I motioned across the street, to go sit on our across the street neighbor’s riding mower until the smoke cleared.  *Most of our neighbors are great. I guess every street has that one house...

So we started across the street and my kid looks down, then up to me, his hand still in mine.

“She’s not happy,” he repeated, still very much intrigued by the Jerry Springer scene playing out down the street.

I've noticed how certain things stick with him. When they do they are weaved into a story at the most random moments. Like when his Uncle Jeff plucked his own teeth out with my kid's new toy pliers, that memory is sticking around for a while.

We hung out on the riding mower for a bit, making engine noises while the arguing died down. When it cleared out, we started down the street, I couldn’t help feel for the little boy being carried into the house. Because certain things probably stick with him too.

At the end of the street my son climbed up on the tractor and got his feet set on the pedals, the satisfaction beaming on his face. Only a few months ago he couldn’t reach the pedals and now it's ride em cowboy. But first he looked up to me, squinting some in the bright winter sky.

“Dad, you make me happy. And I make Daddy happy too.”

And that will stick with me...

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