Today is Patriot’s Day in Boston. I’m a big fan of made-up holidays, so I have a certain fellow-feeling with the day, tempered only by the fact I don’t get it off. Boston has an excellent tradition of “historic” holidays (usually revolving around some Revolutionary war thingy) that just HAPPEN, though sheer COINCIDENCE to be on the same day as something even the historically ignorant might care about. For example, amazingly Evacuation Day (a holiday for state workers) MIRACULOUSLY always occurs on St. Patrick’s day. As for the coincidence of the Boston Marathon, the earliest baseball game of the year (the Red Sox ALWAYS have an 11 am home game on Patriot’s Day) and the recreation of the Battle of Lexington… well, let’s just say it’s three great tastes that taste great together.
You can tell which companies are Massachusetts companies vs. which companies happen to be headquartered in Massachusetts based on a) whether this is a holiday on the calendar and b) if it’s not, what percentage of people show up for work that day.
My sons’ preschool is a true Massachusetts institution. I work for a global company. This means, of course, that there’s no preschool but I have to work.
I’d actually been waiting for a day like this. I knew one would come. It was very wrenching for me to pull my sons out of the care of a woman they called Abuela – grandma – who had cared for Grey since he was 8 weeks old. But the round trip commute was not possible. I knew that putting the children in daycare in our community was a good long-term solution. Still, I kept my eyes open for just such an opportunity. See, Abuela doesn’t believe in taking vacations or holidays or nights and weekends. She’s taken kids 3rd shift, for days at a time, and over weekends. I knew she’d be up for taking the boys (assuming she had slots) on a day that preschool was closed.
I called her to ask and the joy in her voice was apparent. She’d missed me. She’d missed the boys. Their friends had missed them too. When I asked if she could take them for a day, she sounded super-happy. I felt happy too, this morning, retracing the steps of my habitual commute. I thought about it. The length of time I spent doing that commute ties with the most durable pattern I’ve ever had in my life. For six years I tread those roads, with minor additions, changes and modifications. I’ve only ever lived in one house for six years… all other places I’ve had shorter tenures. I slipped right back in to the habit. It was hard to even think about the fact this was now exceptional, it felt so ordinary and at-home. The glorious brisk, bright morning seemed to make the familiar path into a dance of spring.
As the boys and I walked up the steps to daycare, I thought about the differences in them. Grey has become obsessed with Star Wars — an obsession given to him by his new preschool compatriots. His reading has come a long, long way. He’s asking complicated vocabulary questions. If Grey has changed incrementally, Thane has changed radically. He’s ceased being practically deaf. He’s started talking (oh has he!). He walked up those stairs on his own feet for the first time today. Heck, I pretty much never even put shoes on him when I was bringing him to Abuela’s, since the ice and snow were disincentives to asking him to walk himself. As I waited the (long, familiar) wait for the door to open, I wondered if he’d remember her. Two months — nearly three! — is a very long time when you’re not quite 18 months old. Would he run in? Rejoice? Be afraid? Turn away?
The door opened. Grey ran in with hugs and “I missed you!”. Thane stood at the door, and then pelted in too, to be picked up by a woman who loved him and held him close — happy to see him, marveling at how he’d grown. Then she put an arm around me, too. “I so happy to see you!” And she was. And so was I.
For lunch, the boys likely had Abuela’s rice and beans which is “So delicious. You would love it mommy. It’s not like YOUR rice and beans.” (Hey, I’m trying.) She’s probably noticed that Thane talks non-stop and screeches a lot now. Grey is likely borrowing Pablito’s DS (assuming Pablito’s parents don’t have Patriot’s Day off, which you never know). Isaiah is probably teaching Grey something fun and inappropriate. (Grey: Isaiah knows about EVERYTHING. ME: Don’t I know it!) I have heard that Devin pitched fits for weeks after Grey left, because he missed him so. (This is entirely one-sided. Grey was like “Devin who?”)
I’ll go and pick them up after work, and I’ll practice my Spanish some more to attempt to keep the rust from forming. We’ll chat and gossip a bit.
Before, my last words when I left were always, “Hasta manana” (see you tomorrow) or “Hasta el lunes” (until Monday) or variations on that theme. This time, and every time now, I do not know until when that “hasta” is. Grey has decided, this last week or so, that he has three grandmas. I wrestle with the evident truth of this. She and I share a love of these children and a common history, but little else. Not even a common language. On the other hand, that is so much. Of course I include her in my Christmas cards, keep up with her daughter on Facebook, the easy things. But how can I honor her grandmahood, and my sons’ love of her, while the realities of my life march on? All I’m sure of is that the attempt must be made because there are few things more precious than someone who loves your children and whom your children love — related by blood or not.