It’s Labor Day and the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the birds are chirping, and all is right with the world. Yeah, don’t I wish. Actually, the sky is quite gray and there are no birds to be found, even in the tree outside my window. The sound of car wheels splashing through the remnants of a torrential downpour isn’t a welcome sound.
I had plans for today. Nothing special in the normal sense of the word; in fact, down right common regarding the usual activities that take place on Labor Day. I was looking forward to the last official picnic of summer. It’s supposed to be a fun time with kids running around uncontrollably and the elderly adults reminiscing about the past, while the younger adults roll their eyes and snicker over their cantankerous disapproval of the world today.
For me, it’s an excuse to make piles of food that can’t possibly be eaten in one day. It’s also an excuse for me to spend the rest of the day laying around in a lounge chair, making fun of the relatives (all in fun, of course), and snapping all those pictures that no one ever wants to see posted on facebook.
Today, that’s not going to happen. I’m going to head over to my daughter’s and spend the day provoking the grandkids into some outrageous behavior that will have her either laughing or crying. My son-in-law will build his usual bonfire in the grill turning the hotdogs into blackened, chewy stumps. He’ll probably singe his eyebrows doing it, and my daughter will give him one of her infamous “looks” and stomp away in exasperation.
I’m sure Noah will regale me of more tales about his money making schemes, and Nikolai will drive me to distraction showing me his latest, out of a thousand, drawings of Mario while he explains his most recent idea for a new computer game. Aurora will just be there, always lurking in the background, waiting for a chance to pounce on some ridiculous situation with her dry witty quips.
Now, Ryder is a different story. She’s anxiously waiting to officially become a teenager on September 15. She’s at that awkward age where nothing seems to go right for her, and nothing about her body seems to be the right size for the rest of her body parts. She’s at that age where everything is boring to her, the in-between age where childhood is just past, but adulthood is so far away.
Thinking about Ryder on this last day of the picnic season, brings past memories of other picnics when she was very small. Ryder spent a lot of time in my company. I thought she was hilarious with her fierce determination to live her life her way, even though she was only about 2. She was easy to have around as long as she was left to explore and satisfy her curiosity.
She was one of those children who simply didn’t understand why she couldn’t do what she set out to do. In her mind, she was fully capable of accomplishing anything, never mind that she was too young to legally do some of those things. Like the time she thought she could drive…
While her mother and I were out shopping, Ryder was home with her daddy and siblings. My son-in-law is notorious for taking “naps” when he thinks no one is looking, but the kids were always watching, just waiting to take advantage of the lack of supervision. On the day in question, Ryder was ready.
We arrived back at the house in just the nick of time. The backdoor was hanging open and so was the gate in the fence surrounding the yard. Hearing the roar of a car engine, we raced to the driveway behind the house. The family car was rumbling in the drive with no one in it. As we got closer to the car, we saw the tops of two tiny heads through the side windows. Then the one on the driver’s side slipped down out of view just as Lindsay (Mom) yanked open the door. There was Ryder, stretching with all her might to reach the gas pedal. Aurora sat happily in the passenger side, waiting for the ride to start.
After the fear and the pain in our chests subsided, the girls were plucked from their perches and the keys removed from the steering column. Another shot of pain struck when we discovered the car had been moved out of “park”, and had Ryder been able to reach the gas, a tragedy might have happened.
Incredulous that a four year old would even think to do something like that, we turned to Ryder with our questions, while attempting to explain why it was dangerous. She was having none of it. Apparently, she didn’t think it was fair that she had been left behind while we went shopping.
When her father dozed off, she climbed up to the key rack, took down the car keys, and invited her 3 year old sister to take the trip with her. Her destination? Kmart. She was sure that’s where we had gone and she was going to show us that she could shop too. She wasn’t happy to learn that she wouldn’t be able to drive until she was 16. She was furious to learn that a license was required, and angrier still, that she would be tested first. She saw no reason why she should have to prove her ability because she was adamant that she knew how to drive.
She still thinks she should be permitted to do whatever she takes into her head to do. It’s not that she’s trying to break rules or test boundaries. It’s more a huge, gigantic sense of “can do” logic. She simply doesn’t think there’s anything she can’t personally achieve if she attempts it.
Like when she was 2, and determined to put her own swimming goggles on without any help. She did it, but…well…you see the result….
- Top 10 Labor Day Holiday Ideas for 2012 from Puyallup Home Builder: Soundbuilt Homes (soundbuilthomes.wordpress.com)
- Labor Day, How it Came About and What it Means (clarksvilleonline.com)
- Happy Labor Day! (beatcancer2010.wordpress.com)
- 20,000 expected for Labor Day picnic (wcpo.com)