This morning I ran to the grocers to get milk, fresh fruit, and some apple boxes. Next Monday I travel to Iowa City to help Ev move out of the house he shares with three other college students. He has to be out the 26th of July, but he is leaving on a two-week vacation with family and won't be back until the 29th of July. He can't move into his new digs until Aug. 1st, so we rented a storage unit for the month of July. We will move out, clean his share of the house - his bedroom, one bath, and the kitchen - then walk out and close the door on another chapter of his life.
When I returned home from the grocers, I decided to CLEAN the Mini. It was filthy. I can't remember the last time I vacuumed, or washed windows, or scrubbed the mats. I usually just run it thru the carwash, but even that had been awhile. I gathered the soap, a bucket, some towels, the hose and the shop vac. I cranked the music and hit the shop-vac's 'on' button. It ran for about 30 seconds, then turned off. I extracted myself from the backseat to find the neighbor's 2 year-old standing with her finger hovering above the switch, and a big grin on her face.
"Hey, Greta," I said.
"I vacoom," she said.
"Do you want to help?"
"In the car." she said.
"Do you want to sit in the Mini?"
"Yah,yah,yah!" she sang as she danced around the shop-vac.
"Go ask your mom first."
So she pranced off, through the bushes, "Mommy, mommy, can I help Miss Deb vacoom?"
She insisted she sit in the backseat, buckled in with Dewey by her side, while I vacuumed. After we finished, we got out the bucket and filled it with water and bubbles to wash the rims and tires. She loved that. When I turned around, she had shed her PJ's and was standing there barefoot, in her diaper. O-kay. We worked on the outside mirrors and washed the bug debris off the grill. I was hunched over scrubbing away when I heard this sinister giggle behind me. She had figured out if she thoroughly soaked her washcloth in the bucket, it would explode with water and bubbles when she threw it against the garage door. I had forgotten how busy a 2 year-old can be.
She decided she wanted to see the fish in the pond, so we got the fish food and fed them a couple sprinkles. Then we were back to cleaning the car. We climbed into the backseat again and wiped down the upholstery, the moldings, and the door trim. She found the tire and rim brush and wanted to scrub the paint, so I directed her over to the mats that needed cleaning. That kept her busy for a good 4 minutes! We rinsed them, then carried them over to a sunny spot on the drive. That's when Mom appeared, carrying a couple of glasses of icy, cold limeade. We sat in the shade, admired our work, and drank our drinks. Well, she drank her drink and then mine, too.
I am so glad to be done with those days of entertaining/chasing a 2 year-old, although I seem to have more patience now because I can take the child home to mom when I get tired. But over the years, as my kids have grown, I've missed those hours of silly play. I have a picture of Ev when he is 2 years old, sitting in his little rocker, wearing a diaper and a pair of my high heels. His white blond hair is sticking straight up from his head. He has his legs casually crossed and he is studying his favorite Richard Scarry book.
Kids grow up and are gone in the blink of an eye. Next week I will be moving my son for his final year of college. This morning when I glanced into the Mini's rear view mirror as I was polishing it, I saw Greta in the back seat, with her legs casually crossed, wearing only a diaper, studying Dewey's nose. But just for a moment, I saw Ev sitting there. They're gone before you know it and 20 years have passed by. I pray that my son Evan will always embrace that same sense of play and exploration that a 2 year-old possesses, as he makes his way from college student to man of the world.