It was a perfectly normal Elena-Aby morning together today – August 4, 2022. I picked you up at 11:00 – you and Cherry and Cosmo all came blasting to the door. Your mom was taking a short break from work to get us out the door, which we did quite quickly, once you’d found two shoes that were different colors.
We went to the library, and honestly, I expected you to fuss a bit, because I’d mentioned the library yesterday, but you weren’t the least interested. This time, I said, “We’re going to the library.”
We got to the library, parked the car, and walked in. We wandered around the young readers’ section. You wanted books about Minecraft, Sonic, and Star Wars. Which is kind of okay. But I wanted you to have something that took you out of the grasp of American consumerism. Somehow you stumbled across the Jack and Annie Magic Treehouse collection, which you know well. You found one whose front cover appealed to you (it was about Jack and Annie going to Venice, on a mission for Merlin). That sold me, we got checked out, and…
Wait, before we leave the library, I have to tell you about a cool thing you did. As we were walking toward the section where your books were, a woman was approaching us, carrying a wee one, and a bunch of books. I’m not sure what happened, but suddenly there was a small crash, all her books were on the floor, and the little guy was wailing because the noise scared him.
Without hesitation, you darted forward, recovered the books from the floor, and handed them to the mom, who had settled down her little one. I was so incredibly proud of you.
Back at the parking lot
I’d promised you some kind of treat, and you wanted… it took you a second to remember, but frozen yogurt. Conveniently enough, there’s a frozen yogurt shop a five-minute walk from the library.
“We’re just leaving the car in the shade,” said I, and we happily walked over to the Safeway shopping center. When we got ready to cross E. 14th Street, I held out my hand, you took it without notice, and we crossed.
Sadly, the fro-yo shop was closed for some reason.
“We need a Plan B,” you said, a child of the Wild Kratts, who are always needing a Plan B.
“Let’s get boba.”
I knew that the 85 Bakery, across the parking lot, had boba, so we headed over that way.
“If they don’t have boba, Plan C will be a doughnut,” you said. I like a kid who has a Plan C ready, in case Plan B fails.
Plan B and the walk to the bakery
As we walked from the fro-yo place to the bakery, I took your hand – the parking lot of that shopping center is chaotic, and I just didn’t trust all the drivers. But I wanted to make it clear that I trusted you…
“Elena, I want you to understand that if you had to walk from that fro-yo place by yourself to the bakery, I would 100% trust you to do it safely on your own. It just gives me a little extra confidence since I’m there, and this parking lot is nuts.
“But just so we’re clear, if you had to do that walk, what would you be watching for at each street?”
This is exactly the right answer. You see, when I first let you run from the mailbox at our townhouse complex to our house, I wanted to be sure you’d be safe. So I’d say, “When you run from the mailbox to the house, you have to watch out for wildebeests and cars!”
After a while, I’d quiz you before I let you go.
“What are you watching out for?”
“Cars. And wildebeests.”
“Good. Off you go.”
We got to the sidewalk but I didn’t let go of your hand. Just because it felt so awesome to hold it.”
“You know Elena, you’re totally safe, even if I don’t hold your hand. But sometimes I hold it, just because it makes me so happy to hold your hand. See, when you’re 15, you’re not going to want to hold my hand, and that will make me a little sad.”
“I’ll still hold your hand when I’m 15.”
“Really? You will?”
In your most “Don’t be silly, Aby” voice: “Of course.”
The bakery had boba, but after you tasted it, you decided it wasn’t what you wanted. So we went to Plan C – a doughnut from Safeway. We walked down the sidewalk to Safeway, holding hands for no reason of safety whatsoever.
“How long is it until I’m 15?”
[Pause] “That’s really not that far away.”
[Pause] “No, it’s going to be here before either of us knows it.”
We got two doughnuts – one for your and one for Great-Gran. You did the whole self-checkout thing, and we walked back over to the library, where we found two awesome stone benches under a tree.
“This one’s yours, this one’s mine.”
You started in on your blue-icing doughnut (“This is the best doughnut ever!”) while I began reading about Jack and Annie’s adventure to Vienna. I wasn’t more than a few pages in, when you got up, came over, and sat on my bench. You leaned into me, and took in the story. Which obviously made me blissful.
Too soon, it was time to take you to Star Wars – Lego camp. We used a piece of doughnut bag as a bookmark (can’t fold pages on a library book!) and got in the car.
15 minutes later we walked into the community center where your Star Wars Lego camp is.
“Do you wanna sign you in, or do you want me to sign you in?”
“You sign me in, but use my initials.”
30 seconds after we’d walked in, your backpack was on the shelf, and you were bent over Star Wars Lego figures with other kids. Chiara’s mom was picking you up, and you were good to go. I said good-bye and thanked you for a great morning. You waved without looking up – you are a child of the moment, and at that point, you were in a Galaxy Far Far Away.
But me, I rushed home to write this. Cause you promised, Elena. You promised me that you’ll hold my hand when you’re 15. And that’s as good a reason as I can think of to look forward to the year 2030.