One Afternoon

It had been a delightful afternoon, spent at a local park with our 20-month-old twin grandsons, their seven-year-old brother and their parents. We corralled the little ones into the tot lot, which along with its double slide and swings, features a wooden locomotive with a giant steering wheel.

I spent the first half hour “chasing” Idris round and round the enclosure, stopping with him every so often to closely examine the passion-flower vine leaves growing along the chain-link fence. Quincey, the other twin, gravitated to the sand box, where he closely examined each small toy deposited by other little ones. Lucien, the older brother, ran off for adventures on the concrete slide, which we could peak at through the redwoods surrounding the tot lot.

Other little ones came and went, most heading directly to the locomotive, its giant wheels buried in the sand. All the parents chatted happily with one another, exclaiming over each others’ children, the balmy weather, the recent rain. The afternoon quickly transformed into a time machine, taking me back to my son, Jonah’s, childhood, when I was the mother, not grandmother, and spent many an afternoon at local parks talking to other parents and giving Jonah underdogs on the swings.

After a while, I went to join Lucien at the slide, cheering him as he flew past where I stood on the sidelines. After a witnessing a few of his descents, I even grabbed a sheet of cardboard, climbed the steps up and up, and launched myself from the top, whizzing down much faster than I had anticipated, my heart thumping by the time I reached the bottom.

Shortly after my return to the tot lot, a young, pregnant mother arrived with her three-year-old daughter, Ami, the little one’s sweet, soft face emerging from a velvet cap. Once Ami had soared on the swings and explored the locomotive, the mother pulled a bottle of bubbles from her bag and began blowing them. Within minutes, all the children in the lot gathered around her, the twins included, wide eyed, their gazes following the streams of perfectly round, fat bubbles, rainbow hued, emerging with each sweep of the mother’s arm.

The mother too was beautiful, her body slim, pregnant belly outlined by a black, close-fitting skirt. And like a Pied Piper, she continued to attract the children, their eyes all fixed on her arm and the trails of bubbles she kept creating. As she dipped and swept, she told us that her baby, Mika, was due sometime this month, that she is a mural painter, and her family had just settled back in Berkeley after traveling throughout the United States and around the world creating murals. I, of course, asked her name so I could look her up on line to see her work.

As we talked, I thought, What a perfect afternoon. Grandchildren, this beautiful little girl and her artist mother. I don’t remember if she had yet put the bubbles back in her bag or not, but just after I had this thought, her little daughter, came over and looked up at me, her face like a flower within her cap. “I give you a hug,” she announced, then she wrapped her tiny arms, like leaves, around my legs.


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