Couldn’t We Just Stay Home?

Couldn’t We Just Stay Home?

Sally and James were being extra quiet. They didn’t want their mother and father to know they were awake. It was Saturday and the children were planning to draw and make cards for their Grandmother whose birthday was coming up. Then they heard their father talking in the hall.  

“Ginny, let’s make a quick breakfast and go right to the aquarium. After that, we can take the children to The Plunge. James really needs to become more confident in the water.” 

Ginny was already beating eggs. “Totally. Sally can work on her diving.” 

Sipping huge mugs of coffee, they checked their phones and said in the same instant,

“Let’s get them up!” 

Ginny finished the eggs, put toast in the toaster and set the table. Todd ran up the stairs two at a time. 

“Up and at ‘em, kids! Breakfast, and then out we go.” 

The children, sitting at their art table, were startled. “Oh Daddy we just want to make things here. Gaga’s birthday is coming and we are making her cards. Please?” pleaded Sally.

“Cards can wait. Mommy has breakfast ready. Out of those jammies in a jiffy. No dilly dallying.” 

“Please Daddy?” begged James.

“Not a chance, buddy. Pick up the speed. Come on.”

The children knew it was no use. “See you later, cards,” James said softly. 

The children nibbled on the toast and pushed their eggs around slowly on their white plates. 

“We’ve got a lot to do today, “Ginny announced. “If you’re not hungry, why don’t we get going?” Ginny said, briskly. 

“Good thinking,” Todd agreed. “Let’s hustle.” 

In no time they were parking outside the aquarium. Sally’s face brightened. “We like to see the seals being fed. Remember James, when the baby seal slid off the tiles and was by our feet?”

“Oh yeah! Can we go there now? I love seals.”

“No need to see the same thing every time. Let’s go to the sharks,” Ginny replied.

The giant tank was loaded with sharks. James kept backing away from the glass. Sally held his hand while they looked closely at the sharks. “Their eyes look loose,” Sally told James. “I like their blue-gray skin.” 

“Oh yeah. They’re cool! I like watching them swim around.” 

Todd called. “Time for you two to swim. The Plunge, here we come.”

The children were still riveted to the tank. 

Todd got between them. “Let’s pick up the pace.” 

Helping the children’s with their coats, Ginny could feel both children wanted another minute to look in the tank. “One more look and then we have to go.” 

“Gin, what’s going on?” Let’s go!” Todd sounded annoyed. He ushered his children right through the big crowded space out to the car. 

Five minutes later, they swerved into The Plunge’s busy lot. 

“Out we go.” Ginny unbuckled James. “Todd, will you get the bag with the bathing suits and towels?”

They hurried past classes of children tumbling, and mothers exercising, and then the enormous swimming pool was right in front of them. The smell of chlorine wafted through the warm space. In minutes they were all in the pool.

Sally swam around underwater, as James watched from his mother’s arms. 

“They need lessons,” Todd yelled to the swimming instructor. “Our kids need to be ready for swim teams. Can they get a lesson?” 

The instructor smiled at the children. “They look good. Keep bringing them here so they get really comfortable in the water. In the spring I can give them a hand.” 

“What about today?” 

“Not yet. Children need a slower pace. They’ll be great by spring.”

“Okay, guys. Let’s get out and dry off and have lunch,” Todd told them. 

“Daddy we just got here. Let’s swim for a while.”

“Five minute warning,” Ginny announced. Todd was already drying off, looking at his phone. “I’m hungry,” he said.

Half an hour later, they pulled into a space at Frank’s Soup and Wich Shop. Sally gave a loud sigh. “Can we just stop doing things soon? We loved making our cards. Please!” She put her whole four year old being into her words. 

James chimed in. “I wish we were home. I know how to fold the paper now.” 

Todd, turned around in his car seat, and looked at the children. “You know, we can always get a babysitter and Mommy and I can just do things.”

No one said a word. The gloomy family walked into Frank’s and sat down. Menus came and they ordered grilled cheeses and fizzy water. Ginny and Todd had salads too. A wordless lunch followed. 

They drove home. Miraculously the parents agreed to skip the nature center. On their street, they saw the Hendersons building a snowman. Charlie, the father was lifting up his children to put in the eyes and carrot nose. 

“Mommy and Daddy, tomorrow, can we just stay home?” 

Waving to the Hendersons, Todd said nothing. Ginny answered, “We’ll see.”

The children ran upstairs to work on their cards. “I love our cards, James,” Sally said as she colored a few hearts. 

“Me too. I love them.” James gave a sudden yawn. They got into James’ bed and fell sound asleep for the rest of the night. 

In the morning, they were just stirring when the door opened gently.

“We will be staying home today.” Ginny said, seemingly relieved. 

“Is Daddy mad at us?” Sally asked. 

“Not at all. He ran out to get more paper and crayons.” 

“Yay!” the children cheered in unison.

Anne Martine Cook has 39 years experience teaching nursery school children.