Monday, February 2, 2009

Quote of the day - It's a train station

About three days a week, I run out of my office as the bell rings, hoping to beat my 3,000 students out of the parking lot so I can pick up Brielle before 3:00, when I have to start paying for after care. After I've hugged her, celebrated homeward-bound kindergarten artifacts, and talked her into sitting in her car seat, I pull out to the edge of the street and hope the sight of moving traffic scares her into buckling her car seat more than my nagging did.

On a good day, she reads me one of her little picture-guided books on the way and I get to hear about what she's learned, and maybe even a song.

At the twins' preschool, I take Brielle in and we wade through four-year-olds who've just woken from a nap. I find and squeeze Melía, who helps me find the hiding Ashlyn, who's dressed in some sort of costume. Melía joins Ashlyn in her hiding spot. I tickle them both till they come out. I goad Ashlyn to lose the dress-up gear.

It's snack time now. While waiting for them to eat, I collect artwork from one cubby, blankets and sweaters from another, peanut-butter-scented princess boxes from the lunch rack. And with any luck, two children.

With lots of luck, I emerge with all three.

We work our way down the hall, girls stopping to see what the babies are doing, reminisce about bygone days in younger classes, beg for ice from the ice machine. One gets out to the car, another decides she needs to go potty. They all get outside, and Daddy remembers he didn't sign them out. Back inside, another decides she's ready for a pitstop too. Daddy wonders what happened to his nap time.

It's usually a good 90 minutes between my quitting time and the delicious moment when all four of us are crammed into the battered green Accord.

To make things interesting today, between Brielle's kindergarten and the twins' preschool, I had to swing by Rachelle's work to snag a third carseat. Walking toward Mommy's building, Brielle eyed a set of temporary mobile home offices on a construction site.

"Are those choo-choo trains? Is this a train station?"

"No, but they do look kind of like trains. Those are mobile homes, Brielle. The call them 'mobile' because they are moveable. 'Mobile' comes from the same word as 'move.' Mobile, move, mobile, move. Auntie's house is a mobile home, but it is double-wide. See how skinny those mobile homes are? They are single wide. Do you know why they make them so skinny? That's so they can fit on the back of a truck and drive them on the roads to wherever they need them. Cool, huh?"

Brielle had listened politely to my lecture on manufactured housing nomenclature, etymology and transport. And she had one conclusion:

"I think this is a train station."


Ginger said...

Heh! I'm like that too. I tend to hear what I was EXPECTING to hear, and sometimes miss the information to the contrary. Rather unnerving, when one reflects on it.

LOVE that swing picture. It has what my photographer friend calls "sweet light."

toni said...

my kids are teens, but that post sure brought back memories. i miss those times.
those girls are so lucky to have a dad like you.

Michael J. Bennie said...

Thanks, Toni. But I think I'm the lucky one.

And Ginger, I'm with you as far as hearing what I wanted to or expected to. But on my side of the conversation, I found myself delighted that despite all the mundane details about mobile homes, my girl was still dreaming of the train station. And I'm with her...train stations are way cooler than mobile home offices on construction lots.

I'm reminded of a song about a dad explaining the explainable, battery-powered reality of a radio to his son, who'd thought it was full of little guys singing. The wonder gone, his son wept. And so, as David Wilcox puts it, "Here's to the radio men inside." Or in this case, here's to the choo choo trains on the construction site.

Here's the song (The Radio Men):