Brittany: The Perfect Day
If you had asked me a month ago what made a perfect day, I would’ve described one that was out-of-the-ordinary, one in which rare pleasures were to be had. But that was before I actually identified this perfect day. I wrote about it on my personal blog when it happened. It was magical in its ordinariness. I was picking Sam up from preschool, heard the train in the distance, we hopped in the car and chased it down Main Street. Then to celebrate, we went to McDonald’s, for aptly named Happy Meals, and spent the afternoon in the park picnicking, where a friendly squirrel stopped by to investigate and beg for fries.
There is nothing special about trains, and fast food, and parks, and squirrels. If I made you a list and said, “This is what made me happy today,” it would all seem kind of banal. But it was the way the moment unfolded, fun onto fun onto fun, that made it so memorable, and feel so magical. It was as if the universe had aligned itself just for us.
And the fact that it happened even once was wonderful. It was the proverbial “perfect day.” A Platonic perfect form. The kind of day you think about wistfully, because there will never be another one like it. Except there was. Today.
Last night was one of those hellish tragi-comedies of parenthood. Sam was sick and wanted to snuggle with Tom. Tom would cuddle him to sleep, leave, and Sam would wake up screaming for him. Over and over and over. The screaming woke up John, whose crying woke up Sam, whose screaming woke up John. No one got a wink of sleep until almost 3 a.m. Then John woke up for the day at 6:30, but Sam and Tom slept in, causing Sam to sleep through the whole first hour of preschool. I had to keep him home today and knew that if I was going to make it through the day on three hours of sleep with both my sanity, and children, intact we were going to have to get out of the house.
I asked Sam if he wanted to go to one of those indoor inflatable playgrounds, but he said he’d rather go to the park and feed fries to the squirrels. So after John woke up from his nap, we headed out to McDonald’s, where in a rare burst of burgeoning 2-year-old language, Sam told me he wanted, “a hamburger with cheese and fries.” No ambiguity there.
We went to the park. It was a bright, beautiful South Carolina day. Sun on our shoulders. 65 degrees. Our squirrel friend arrived and shared our lunch. We went to the playground. The boys chose to swing and play in the dirt, and we were packing up to leave when I heard the train horn in the distance. We threw our stuff in the car, tore down Main Street as fast as the 35 mph speed limit would allow, parked in a prime train-watching space by the railroad tracks, and waited for the train to go by. It was a longer-than-usual train, with two bright red engines, seven hopper cars, and five tanker cars. 2-year-old heaven, by anyone’s estimation. We followed it back down Main Street and then came home tired, dirty, happy, and a little amazed.
Perhaps with perfect days, as with all things, you have to identify what it is you want first, and then the universe provides. Again and again and again.