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Washed Up

We’ve had almost a week of sullen
grey skies here in Texas, with air so thick you could almost roll
up in it like a soggy sleeping bag from camp days. Every day the
cloudy and overcast skies bluster threateningly, with nothing
coming from it by the end of the day but more mosquitos and the
feeling you’re in some kind of languid Tennessee Williams
play, so droopy and filled with ennui are you.

Which is why, when I left home this morning for a play date a few
blocks away, I didn’t bring an umbrella.

Sure, the skies were overcast, but what
was new? We’d been staring at those clouds for days now and
come to live in a sort of uneasy truce with them, I’d
thought. The forecast said nothing about rain, and anyway, we were
only a couple blocks away. I even brought bathing suits to my
friend’s house, in case the sun came out and we wanted to
jump in her pool.

Unfortunately, the weather decided to end our little

Our play date went swimmingly at first (foreshadowing,
foreshadowing): Maddie absolutely loves hanging out with Maxum, and
thinks (rightly so) that his house is the coolest EVER. He’s
got an indoor Harley trike, an indoor Flintstone-type truck, a huge
train table with cars and trains to play with, a baseball set, the
list is endless. And not to go off the subject here, but I
couldn’t decide which was cuter: Maxum throwing his toolbox
and saw into the bed of the truck and trying to drive off alongside
Maddie on her Harley, or Maxum saying to Maddie, “Hop in,
Maddie, and I’ll show you around,” at which point he
ditched the toolbox and Maddie rode off in his flatbed like a
little Daisy Duke.

And this is my last sidebar, I swear, but this was the highlight of
the playdate: Maxum’s playroom has a little under-the-stairs
closet which has more toys and chairs and such in it, and Maxum
showed her his pop-up tent and said, “Let’s go in my
tent with all the lights off.” Maddie replied a bit primly,
“I’d prefer the lights to stay on, thank you.”

Good girl, Maddie, and remember that in fifteen years.

At any rate, about half an hour before we were planning on heading
home the heavens opened up. At first we thought it cool, and even
stood on their covered back patio to smell the rain a bit. As the
storm ran on, my friend Ali graciously fed all of us and we all
settled around the breakfast table for a bit. The weather continued
to rage, so the kids went back to playing, finding no end to their
creative uses of Little People and things with wheels.

But an hour past Maxum’s nap, though the little guy was
gallantly keeping up with Whirlwind Maddie, Cora was beginning to
droop and I knew we were in for a Class 5 Meltdown in about fifteen
minutes. A check of the radar confirmed that the light rain would,
indeed, be increasing again soon with no letup for the next several
hours, and I knew we had to make a move.

Fortunately for me, Ali has the same wagon we do, so I convinced
Maddie that rather than walk home, she and Cora could borrow
Maxum’s wagon and ride. Since it would be impossible for me
to hold an umbrella over them while pulling it (and since that was
a lightening rod if I ever knew one), Ali kindly lent me two
adult-sized windbreakers to drape over the girls. I strapped them
in, throwing their sun hats on for good measure. Maddie kept the
top button open to allow for Silky and thumb accessibility, and
after a long internal debate I decided to allow Cora to keep her
pacifier clip. Trust me, the likelihood of that thing attracting
lightening was MUCH lower than the likelihood of her fatigued
screams attracting Child Protective Services.

We were as ready as we could be, and set out.

I tried belting out “Singing In The Rain” but Maddie
nixed that one quickly; she was sullen about leaving the Fun House
– er, Maxum’s house, and didn’t want me to try to
cheer her up. She was also inexplicably concerned about using
someone else’s wagon, and kept asking why we didn’t
just go home to get our own to use.

The run home was uneventful, though about halfway there the thunder
began picking up in intensity. My pace quickened as fast as I dared
go without scaring the girls, even as I counted my
Mississippi’s between lightning bolts. Safely home, I finally
dared glance at the girls, who were both near-buried underneath
their windbreakers but calm and content (though shell-shocked might
be a more accurate description!) As we went inside (God bless
garages, where we can unload peace!) Maddie continued to fret about
the stupid wagon. “But Mommy, I’m concerned,” she
said. “We don’t need two wagons! What will we do with
two now?” I gritted my teeth and explained AGAIN that
we’d be returning it to Maxum soon.

That, of course, perked her right up. “Mom, I will go with
you to return it to say thank you.” Ah, my generous child, I
thought. “And then I will play with Maxum some more while
I’m there.”

Ah, my devious child.


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