“Boom! Crash! Ow!”
I stopped the car and looked over at 10-year-old Noah.
“You should start with a sound lede,” he said with a “Duh Mom” tone.
“Good idea!” I continued to back down the driveway on our way to school drop off. It was a typical drive on a typical morning.
“Wonder how long until the first frost?” I thought out loud. The morning was cool, sweatshirt weather, but the dahlias and roses were still blooming in my front garden. I stared at them for an extra moment before putting the minivan into drive — I was trying to mentally memorize how the flowers looked knowing that in a month they would be gone.
On a typical morning Noah and I have about an hour together. Just us. Most days we’ll spend it having breakfast and watching our favorite morning show, the one with the female anchors with really great shoes, then we’ll head out the door and talk.
Typically, as is our way on that particular day of the week, I’ll pretend (sometimes not pretending) to freak out about what to put in this space.
“You should write about how you don’t want me to play football,” he had said. “Talk about how Luke hurt his knee and keeps rehurting it. Boom! Crash! Ow!”
“I don’t want you to play football, I want you to play the saxophone,” I told him for about the 800 millionth time in the past year.
“Not going to happen,” he said as he turned on the radio and started keeping the beat with his head.
“But you’ll be guaranteed field time for every varsity home game, even as a freshman.”
He ignored me and launched into the lyrics of a song.
“I like this one,” I said cranking the volume. We performed a dazzling, oft-practiced cover that included dashboard percussion and hair flipping (him) (OK … and me. If you’ve got it, flip it, right?)
“Are you ready for your test?” We had turned down the service road to the school. I calmed down my inner Rocker Chick and concentrated on the drop-off lane ahead.
“Yup.” I believed him. I can name a lie in one syllable — this was a truth.
“People! Wait for the buses! The buses have the right of way!”
“Mom, they can’t hear you. Please stop.”
“It makes me feel like I have some control … yes, Dad, cut me off. Your time is more precious than mine.”
“Mom! I know that kid!”
I pulled up to the curb and stared at him for an extra moment before unlocking his door. I was trying to memorize how he looked at this age knowing that the next couple of years would bring so much change.
“Love you! Be awesome!”
As he walked away I thought, like I typically do at that point, of the parents from Sandy Hook Elementary who did exactly the same thing on an ordinary day almost three years ago.
Like I typically do on the drive home I thought and prayed for an answer. I wished I was smarter, wished I knew how to help create change. Each day I wish my kid comes home and I wish, wish, wish there are no stories like that in the news today. Tomorrow.
In less than three miles round trip, I was home — just like every day.
But unlike every day I didn’t go inside. I took my phone to the front garden and snapped pictures of the dahlias and roses.
I wished that this was the only untypical thing that would happen that day.
That day this wish came true.