Every school day, my three-year old and I walk my five-year old to kindergarten. By myself, I can complete the trip in two minutes. Even with just my kindergarten I can make it in under four. But with my little Loopie Loo, the journey takes close to twenty.
His adventure starts the moment we step out the front door as he pauses to search for dead and dying crickets around our doormat--poor misfortune insects who made the fatal mistake of hopping into the pesticide that protects our house from terrorist scorpions. After he's pointed out all of the bugs, Loopie Loo bounds down the steps, across the grass and onto the dirt road with its thick, loose dusty covering. He plops down in a soft pile of dirt, dust billowing around him, and draws one of his two favorite letters--an "x" or a "t" or sometimes, both.
When I finally convince him that he can play in the dirt later, and that we must get his brother to school, he jumps up, his backside covered in a light brown sheen, and runs to catch his brother, who, by this time, is impatiently waiting at the cement bridge that spans the irrigation canal.
I try not to choke on the dust kicked up in his passing. At the bridge, Loopie again pauses for insects. This time he stomps around the bridge, squishing any and all giant red ants that come into his line of sight. His brother helps him, until I insist on holding their hands so we can cross the street.
The second we reach the other side, Loo Loo pulls his hand from mine and runs to check out a hole in the dirt next to the sidewalk. He steps in it, then continues walking--on the curb, which at his age, with his grace and balance, takes an eternity. For a brief moment he runs again, just until he's moved across the parking lot to another curb, and starts over with his tight rope act.
At last I take their hands again, we cross in front of the cars dropping off kindergartners and step to the office. My five-year old says his goodbyes and disappears inside the building. Time to go home.
Loopie wants to wave to his brother at the playground. So we walk to the fence that surrounds all of the cool playground toys that Loo Loo wishes he was old enough to use; while we wait, Loopie tries to squeeze himself through the slats of the fence. Only his leg and arm fit.
My kindergartner eventually emerges, drops his backpack and waves at us. Loo Loo stares after him for a moment before we turn around to walk home. He slides his hand across the low wall in front of the office, and triumphantly kicks at the traffic cones set up to guide cars picking up and dropping off. Thankfully, he ignores the curbs, walking contentedly beside me until we are again across the street.
As soon as we reach the rocky dirt, he selects two rocks, one for each hand, before resuming his war against the red ants. When he has smashed enough ants, he drops to his hands and knees in the small, round stones that top the dirt in front of the bridge. After he hands me his rocks, he scoots through the pebbles for the three feet that they extend into the dirt road while I cringe at the thought of holes in his pants.
Finally, he climbs back to his feet and runs over to the decorative curb that surrounds our neighbor's landscaping. Loopie calls it "the snake." As he walks along it, touching each of the solar accent lights he passes, I pray that he doesn't break anything.
Then, he's mine again, holding my hand (not the one holding his rocks) and telling me about the airplane he sees or the clouds floating by. We are almost home. We actually set foot on our grass. But he asks for his rocks and trots off to drop them in the big hole he discovered in our lawn. By the end of the school year, it should be filled.
After he plucks a leaf from a weed, Loo Loo runs to catch up with me, insisting that he open the door. He swings it open; I barely catch it in time to keep it from slamming into the wall and watch as he drops his leaf and settles onto the couch to watch a movie.
I sink into a chair. Exhausted. Grateful that it's Wednesday, early release day. Because it's too early to walk from the school to the mailbox.
That's an entirely different adventure...