(Originally posted June 24, 2008)
I'm sitting on my back patio, the one that Dan created in our tiny back yard. It is an oasis on a busy street; the wall fountain splashes merrily as the air conditioner competes for attention.
It's beautiful this evening. About 7:30, the sun is setting, and there's a puppy at my feet. The kids left for an overnight with their dad about an hour ago. Dan's in his scuba gear at the Aquarium, cleaning rocks in the big exhibits. I am eating leftover pasta and enjoying a glass of pinot and waiting for hummingbirds to fly to the new feeder we put up. There was a female out here a few minutes ago, but Clementine scared her off.
We have weathered the recent sweltering heat somehow. On Friday, the kids were home and we had "swaphouse playdates": first, Sabrina (Charlie's classmate) and her sister Daniela (Claire's) came to our house to play. Then they all went to their house. Sabrina and Daniela live 3 blocks down La Crescenta Avenue, and I really like their parents. The dad, Randy, is an old-school rocker who loves Rush and hard rock of that era. The mom, Josie, is a real sweetheart, and we usually end up yakking about our husbands' mutual foibles. The most recent discussion involved how the men bug us about our spending, but suddenly there's room in the budget for these ridiculous expenditures: Randy decided they needed a swimming pool in the back yard. (Which is okay with us, as it'll be done before the summer's over and we're invited as much as we want, yay!) Dan bugs me about my spending, but that Hawaii vacation... well, let's just say we have a different idea about what's essential. "Men... ya can't live with 'em... ya can't shoot 'em".
Saturday we went to see "Kung Fu Panda" at an afternoon show, always an excellent way to beat the heat. Emma is showing early signs of being the movie buff in the family. She sits transfixed, even through the credits. Charlie still waits out the previews in the lobby (they're too loud). I'm sorry to say that "Kung Fu Panda" did not pass the Claire test: she demanded TWO bathroom trips. We must have one or zero to be Claire approved. (Very few movies have passed the Claire test.)
Sunday was New Shoes Day. We have a New Shoes Day about 3 times a year, it seems. This time, it was for Camp Shoes. I was all set to weather the great drama known as Target With Three Children In Tow on my own, as I know full well what that entails. But hark! Dan wants to join us! All my entreaties to Stay Home, Stay Home fall on deaf ears! And thus I know, this drama will be even more drawn out and painful than usual.
See, I don't mind the drawn-out part. The kids like to look at stuff, and so do I. But I have yet to meet the man who sees a Trip to Target as anything other than a utilitarian exercise: buy your stuff and GET THE HELL OUT.
It just doesn't work like that for me or my kids. And that should be okay. And he insists it will be okay! He understands! Let's all do something together, he says! I fall for his convincing argument. I also think, well, there's a Lowe's right next door, maybe he'll just head over there for "one thing" and end up staring at sprinkler parts for 45 minutes like the last time (when, tragically, I was with him).
Well, it didn't turn out as badly as I'd feared. He did only get one thing at Lowe's, the first time that's happened in recorded history. We had a perfectly dreadful lunch at Wendy's. (I am still bloated from the sodium.) We found very suitable shoes for the girls. And Charlie revealed a new development:
He is too cool for Target shoes.
Yes, it has happened: my soon-to-be-sixth-grader has been influenced by his peers. Target Shoes are Not Cool. He had to have Heelys, or shame and humiliation would rain down upon him like, oh I don't know, rain in January in Southern California. (When it actually rains. For the whole year.)
Dan, for some reason, cannot get this. He wants to make Charlie like the hated Target Shoes. "There's nothing wrong with these shoes! Just try them on!"
"Listen dude," I tell my son privately, "I get it. I do. I think it's okay for you to have opinions about what you wear and how you look." (Did I mention the part about Charlie wanting to put silver streaks in his hair?) "I don't know why Dan doesn't get it. But I do. So let's deal with this later."
Anyway, long shoe story short, I take Charlie out and get him his $60 Heelys at Sport Chalet later. He swears he will wear them every day and love them like he himself carved them from clay.
So today was the first day of summer camp, the temperature has lightened up by 15 degrees or so, and Charlie still has no idea how to skate in Heelys. But it's a beautiful evening, and we have a little bit left in the bottle of Hitching Post 2006 Pinot Noir (yes, that's the place from "Sideways", and the wine is every bit as good as Paul Giamatti's character said it was), and I have a puppy curled up at my feet, and I think that's enough.
Wishing you all the same contentment...