Mom promised to take us to the park today. It was the hottest day of summer so far and after six grueling months of frigid cold and piles of snow, the heat was much welcomed.
I had awoken early in the morning, like I do every morning, usually before mom could even rouse from bed. But today, she woke up first. Dad often worked the overnight shifts, so even if he was home, most chances were that he wouldn’t wake until noon.
I heard my little brother calling for me from mom’s room. He always ended up in her bed, even though she always put him to sleep in his. He was still a little kid though, only two years old, not four like me.
“Joseph, where are you!?” he called again. His voice was followed by the quick titter-tatter of his bare feet on the cold wood floor. I hopped out of bed and met him in the hall.
“I’m right here Kristopher,” I said. “Where’s mom?”
He pointed towards the kitchen where I could hear mom starting breakfast. I sniffed the air. She was making my favorite: homemade pancakes with maple syrup and scrambled eggs. I loved when days started with pancakes.
After breakfast, mom helped us get dressed. She didn’t have to help me too much because I knew how to put on most of my clothes by myself. Mom always showed me how to do the big kid stuff. “You must learn to do these things by yourself,” she’d say showing me how to button my pants, “because one day I won’t be around to do it for you.”
Once we were both dressed, she’d send us off to go play. “Go and use your imaginations,” she’d call after us as we’d run to our room and collect toys to start our games. After eight o’clock, we were allowed to watch T.V, but once snack time came and went, mom would turn it back off and make us play educational games. I didn’t mind because I liked to learn. I wanted to be as smart as mom. She knew a lot of stuff about everything.
After reading a few books and practicing my writing, I walked over to the balcony. The sun was shining so bright and the breeze flowing in from the balcony door was as enticing as a freshly made apple pie. It was the perfect weather for an outdoor adventure. I started to imagine the different types of bugs crawling around in the short blades of grass, looking for meals to eat. I imagined walking in the dirt and feeling the dirt slide into my sandals. I closed my eyes for a second, breathing in as the wind blew. I could smell families nearby having a barbecue. Their music was loud too, and catchy.
“Mom,” I said turning my head to face her. Mom was in the kitchen again. She was in there a lot.
“Yes, sweet heart,” she answered. I heard her turn the water off in the sink where she was washing dishes.
“May we go to the park today?” I asked. “Please?”
Mom loved manners. The best way to get things from her was to use my best manners.
“Well of course! I promise we’ll go just after I tidy things up and daddy wakes up.”
I was so excited I started to dance. I knew that mom tidying up also meant that she’d ask us to pick up our things too. Just so she knew I was being a super good boy, I picked up all my toys before she could ask. That made my chances of going to the park even greater.
Later on, after dad woke up, we all went for ride in the car. We had to stop at the grocery store first and then dad had to go to the bank. Feeling a bit antsy and a bit unsure, I asked mom again.
“Are we going to the park?”
“Yes, sweety. We’re almost there.”
I got excited again. I looked out of the window where I could see the other families walking towards the park’s entrance. It was really hot outside and the city had turned on the sprinklers. My eyes must have shown wide, because mom peeked back at me and started to laugh.
“You see that, Joseph,” she chuckled, “looks like they’ve turned on the water for this wonderful hot day.”
Dad parked the car and started to unbuckle Kristopher from his car seat, while mom helped me with mine. As I climbed out of the car, I head Kristopher start to cry.
“I don’t want to go,” he cried, kicking his legs back and forth. Mom said that he was most likely tired and probably wanted to relax at home. When Kristopher heard mom say home, he smiled and nodded his head. “Home,” he said, “I want to go home.” Dad agreed to take Kristopher home, leaving me and mom to spend time at the park. I loved when mom would play with me. She always made up the best games.
After a few minutes of pirate ship take over and monster tag, mom walked over to the bench and sat down. “I’m beat,” she said, whipping the sweat from her forehead. I peered over at the water. It looked so cool and refreshing, and the sun really was beating down pretty hard.
“Go for it,” mom said, nodding towards the water.
“But we don’t have our bathing suits,” I said surprised that mom even thought up the idea.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll have dad bring us towels when he comes to pick us up,” she said as she picked me up, sat me down, and began to remove my shoes.
As I walked over to the spraying sea horse, I glanced back over at mom. She was smiling and waving. I smiled back and turned around to face the water again. My feet met the cold puddles and sent instant chills across my body, grateful chills.
When we returned home, mom taught me how to hang wet clothes to dry, and then showed me how to put my pajamas on like a big boy. “You must learn how to do this by yourself,” she started. “Because you’re not always going to be around to do it for me,” I finished, smiling.