He can’t wait to get home. To pull on his boots. No time to change out of the already stained and spotted school uniform. I get to slip his polo off occasionally. If I can even beat him to the door. Out he runs in his undershirt. “Mommy, let’s go!” he yells as he shoves his styrofoam sword down the back of his shirt. He runs to the backyard. The stray kitten that showed up under our porch this summer, Batman, tags along.
There’s nothing else on his mind. No room to be an adult now. Only room to be a kid. Absolutely zero awareness (and that’s what’s wonderful) that the car is still loaded down with the morning’s breakfast, his backpack, his lunchbox that’s smeared with something sticky, my work bags, dinner groceries, and anything else that reminds me that again, this day has come and gone and it’s time to wind down. Some days when he jumps in the car after school, he quickly glances to the trunk to see if there are grocery bags. “Yes! No groceries today!”
Or is the day really even winding down? For him, his favorite part of the day is just beginning. Getting home from school in the early evening means playtime in the pond. The empty pond that was dug weeks ago behind our house has become his haven every day since. His special place to play and explore. To create, to enjoy, and to live life fully as an almost five-year-old. Where he can pretend, imagine, believe and be anything.
Through the eyes of a child, the dusty and muddy crevice is as intimidating as an ocean. The mounds of dirt are as monstrous as mountains. The dried out cypress trees awaiting their water are very much alive in his forest. The forest where he hunts buffalos with his bow and arrow squirt-gun. The ground of gravel is where he digs for dinosaur bones. There lies a trail of rocks and sticks that he has calculated their placement so cautiously to make “booby traps.” We jump off the cliffs. We hide from T-Rex. Who will he decide to be today? Maybe Hulk. Maybe Shrek. Maybe we’ll turn into Minions. We run around. We hide. We climb. We dance. We sing. We play. All around, on, and in the bottom of that pond.
In the next few weeks, our special pond will slowly start filling with water little by little. The once-empty pond will merely resonate as nothing but memories of fun and laughter. New experiences will start to take place. It’s quite analogous to my sweet boy’s life thus far. Of my life, too, with him in it. Adventures that have come and gone, experiences that have now passed. The pond reminds me that these special moments will only last for so long. And when my adult life starts to interfere with the ever-present quality time that is waiting for us to be had, I conscientiously have to make the choice to be present by recognizing that this adventure will come to an end, and a new adventure will begin tomorrow. We will indeed feel the loss of our special empty pond, but the gain has been much greater because of what took place here.