In autumn photographs everyone gets along

This photograph is a perfect example of how something can look much more peaceful and relaxed than it is in reality.  
After church, we decided we’d eat lunch and then go for bike ride instead of taking the kids to see MegaMind. Afterall, it was a beautiful November day. By February, the sky will be freezing gray and the roads will be covered in ice. In the event of another snowpocalypse, the majority of us will still be expected to be at our desks by 8 a.m., even if the schools are closed and we have absolutely nobody with whom to leave our kids. (Just in case you’re wondering, it’s things like this that confront CEOs on Undercover Boss and makes them cry.) 
So, we seize the day. And, besides, who wants to blow 50 bucks right before Thanksgiving and Christmas when you can rent a movie at the Red Box for one whole dollar? You might find this hard to believe, but after 13 years of nonstop kid movies, I can actually wait to see MegaMind
After gathering up some grocery items (by the way, since the election the price of a five-pound can of Folger’s has skyrocketed to an astonishing $9.49) and throwing together a quick lunch, we ventured out for an afternoon of riding bikes through the neighborhood.
The problem is, nothing, and I do mean nothing, is leisurely with kids. Somebody between three and 13 is always fighting to be at the front of the line and screaming bloody-murder if they don’t get their first. Robert and I turn on the maniac trying to make sure someone doesn’t accidentally jump a curb and veer off into traffic or crash into a tree. 
It’s at times like this I am completely convinced that I am the perfect candidate for that Nanny show, and I begin to fantasize about the monologue Jo will deliver at the end of our episode. She’ll tell everyone an elephant is standing on my chest and they all better cut it out or I will become as flat as a paper doll. Then who’s gonna build them forts in the kitchen and let them eat bananas in their beds at night?
In autumn in photographs everyone gets along.

Someday, they’ll look back and realize how brief their time together really was.

We made it to the park, but not before somebody fell down and got hurt. 
Nothing is ever easy.
While everyone ran off to climb trees or run sprints and hurl acorns at squirrles, I sat in the November shade and reflected.
I thought about these ribbons on Bridgy’s handlebars, and I wondered whether or not they’ll fray before she outgrows the bike. Probably not. And, I wondered why do we stop wanting ribbons on our handlebars. 
And, I thought about the foot that pushes this pedal forward and all the places this foot, which belongs to my little boy, will travel without me. I will not always be there to keep him from crashing into trees.
[For a brief and horrific second, I imagined that he was 19 and trudging through a jungle in Southeast Asia, covered in mud. How did those mothers ever survive? When we got home, I followed him into his room and told him not to join the Army. I told him to go to college and get an education and don't go to war. He said OK, but what is war?]
Fall foliage, the southwest corner of NW 14th and Walker, Oklahoma City

Our afternoon at the park winding down. Juliette rides away from me and I say, hey, Juliette, turn around, I want to get you with the junipers. She turns around and gives me her signature smile.
I remember the day Robert taught her to ride her bike. It was almost eight years ago and we lived one street over and three blocks down. It seems like yesterday. That’s her in the background. This is the fifth bike we’ve bought her. It doesn’t have ribbons on the handlebars.
 14th and Walker Avenue, Oklahoma City
This is the child with whom I share birth order. She is fiercely independent and yet still in need of protection. She absolutely goes into meltdown at the first sign of being pushed around by anybody.

Through Bridgette I understand better my father’s affection for me. He didn’t love me more than by older siblings, but he had nurtured them through childhood without the influence of teenage siblings. He knew, like I know now, how quickly the bloom falls from the vine. He had seen them rocket through their toddler, preschool and elementary years at breakneck speed. He could do nothing to thwart the fast passage of time, and when I was born in his late 30s, he held onto my youth and innocence with a death grip. I realize now it wasn’t to keep him younger or to keep me from growing older as I had suspected, but rather, to keep me from becoming too jaded too soon.

NW 15th and Hudson Avenue

From one of my favorite holiday movies, The Family Stone:
“You were just a little girl in a flannel night gown. And you were shovelling snow from the walk in front of our house. And I was the snow, I was the snow. And everywhere it landed and everywhere it covered. You scoop me up with a big red shovel. You scoop me up.”

I love you, Sully, Bridgy and Juliette.

2 Responses to “In autumn photographs everyone gets along”

  1. le@thirdontheright

    great pics jen – ouch sully :) kiss it better … I love the snap shot calm of the photo image … if life was only realy so calm … but then it would not be life – love to you jen xoxo

    Reply
  2. Yogi♪♪♪

    Powerful post Jen,

    Your thoughts about why your Dad protected you are almost exactly why my Wife and I protect our Son so much. Not just because he has autism, we just don’t want him to become jaded at a young age.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: