Home > Uncategorized > The Joy of Ordinary Days (Days Even An Eight Year Old’s Gas Can’t Ruin)

The Joy of Ordinary Days (Days Even An Eight Year Old’s Gas Can’t Ruin)

Memories, the marketers tell us, are made on vacation.  But what are we to make of the ordinary days?  Artists don’t create books and movies about mundane, ordinary days.  Who would watch and read such things?  Where’s the conflict and drama?  What’s the quest and where’s the adventure?  But when reflecting on the things missed most, people usually point to those mundane, ordinary moments.

On Monday, I got off work early, a President’s Day treat, which allowed me to escape the normal rush hour traffic.  Monday’s commute home only took fifty minutes as opposed to the normal seventy.  Prior to this change of jobs, Monday had been a day off, a day that afforded me the opportunity to pick up Samuel from school and cart him off to swim practice.  On this President’s Day Monday, I arrived home in time to take Samuel to swim practice like old times.  In the fifteen minute drive to the pool, he said little, except for confessing amidst great laughter that the stench filling the car belonged to him and not the car in front of us.

My eight year old son has discovered the humor of bodily functions.

I sat down in one of the plastic chairs in the corner while Samuel got in the pool for practice.  Other parents were scattered about, some reading, some talking on the phone, and one who was somehow sleeping.  I turned on my Kindle and read, periodically looking up to see Samuel swimming from one end of the pool to the other.  At the end of practice, the coaches allowed the kids take turn practicing cannonballs off the board.  For the first time in forty minutes, smiles appeared on the kid’s faces as they tried to out-splash one another with their dives.  When Samuel completed his last attempt, he swam to the end of the pool near me and practiced flip turns against the pool wall.  He did so, I think, not because he cared for the extra practice, but because he didn’t want to get out of the pool.  Some days I wonder if he is half-fish.

When we arrived home, Angela was dressed and ready to go running.  A couple of weeks prior, she’d downloaded the couch to 5k app, thinking she might be able to interest Samuel in running with her.  He quit midway through the first workout so I agreed to start running with her.  I changed clothes and the three of us piled into the car to drive to the nearby track.  Normally, she and I would walk to the track while Samuel rode his bike, but since darkness was approaching we’d taken the car.  At the track, Samuel played with a couple of LEGOS while we ran.

We didn’t finish running until seven o’clock.  We’d yet to eat dinner, leftovers were sparse, and I hadn’t even thought of what I might make.

“Chick-fil-a?” I proposed.

Shockingly, no one objected.  The only protest came from Samuel who wanted to eat inside the restaurant rather than grab dinner in the drive through.  He was overruled.

While we drove, we talked about work and school and LEGOS.  Samuel always seems to turn the conversation to LEGOS.  There were no arguments or conflicts or accidents or adventures.  We were just a family going to get dinner, having a mundane, ordinary evening together.

Angela handed us each a couple of waffle fries when we came to a red light.  Samuel was going on and on about something or other.  Sometimes, he gets started talking and never stops.  I looked at him in the rearview mirror and her out of the corner of my eye and I smiled.  In the past year, we’d been through so much together- sickness and death and challenges and difficulties- no different than any other family.  We’d also been fortunate enough to travel to Destin, Los Angeles, and Austin to see family and relax.  We’d experienced laughter and fun over the holidays and the week before we’d celebrated Samuel’s eighth birthday.  And as much fun as those times were, I could take a hundred of these mundane, ordinary nights (not to mention the fact that these nights were way cheaper than flying to Los Angeles.)  Part of me wanted to freeze this moment and the feeling of joy it brought.

And then Samuel passed gas again and we had to roll down the windows.  But even the noxious fumes of his bowels couldn’t ruin a perfect, mundane, ordinary night.

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