Sometimes in the summer the kids and I will pick up Ed from work and then drive right across town to the east-end Beaches for dinner and a stroll on the boardwalk. We do it when it’s easier than facing the throng of late rush hour traffic heading west. I do it when I just can’t face going home quite yet. We never plan ahead; we just go.
Friday was our first time this season — and our first as a family of five. We parked near the beach and then walked up to Queen St. to get the family meal deal at Lick’s. We always go to either Lick’s or the Goof, not because we’ve sworn off other places, but just because that’s where we always want to go. So I parallel parked the car on a bend in the road and turned off the engine.
“You’re like five feet from the curb, you know.” “No I’m not! What the hell, fine.” I pull out and park again, this time carefully tucking in close to the curb. “It’s that stupid car behind me. I was lining up with him, but he’s parked out in the middle of the road.” I roll up the windows and turn off the engine again. WHRRR. WHRRR. WHRMF. What the?! “Colum!” Stop messing with your window! How many times do I have to tell you?” Ever since we moved that kid into a booster seat it’s been nonstop with the stupid window. Nobody warned me about this! So I turn on the car AGAIN and roll up all the windows and cut the engine. Again.
I pull the first Maclaren umbrella stroller ever made out of the trunk and proceed to swipe at it with my foot while kind of slamming/bouncing it off the ground. It finally pops open and Ed starts to buckle baby Mary in. “What are you doing?” I snap, “There’s no way Irene’s going to want to walk all the way up to Queen St and back this late in the day. That’s why I brought the carrier.”
We finally gather all of our people and bags and things and more people and more bags and start making our way up the street. We have to walk a block out of our way to cross safely at traffic lights and I alternate between calling out for Irene to keep away from traffic and for Colum to just get down off that ledge/fence/bench/newspaper box and stick with us.
At some point Irene did climb into the stroller and Ed wound up pushing her while I wore Mary and the gigantic diaper bag and held hands with Colum. There we were, in full-tilt parent mode, when we came across an old friend and his girlfriend enjoying a beer on a patio. These are life long, die-hard Queen St. W.-ers and I even feigned surprise at seeing them that far east. We awkwardly exchanged ‘how’ve you been’s, us jiggling and bouncing and straining against our various progeny and them trying to exhale their cigarette smoke in the other direction. “So, uh, yeah. You guys should come out some day.” “We are out!” I exclaimed. Everyone laughed and we carried on.
And, you know, encounters like that used to kill me. It’s like I was waiting for some magical time when my kid would be old enough, or my life would be organized enough, that I could pick up where I left off. Because apparently I wasn’t quite finished whiling my life away, pint after pint? But then you have another kid, and another, and you realize that life is never coming back. And suddenly that’s okay.
Because we were out! Because nestled between the never-ending whining and bickering and nagging, hidden among the chaos and the stress and the time spent doing nothing, there’s this:
This was cross-posted to my blog. Click through to see more pictures.