Just Ducky

My oldest boy will be spending a few nights with my parents all on his own.  The idea came up a month ago when I realized that he would be finished with preschool on June 4th and his younger brother wouldn’t be finished until June 26th.  All of a sudden June looked about 60 days long.  I needed a plan.

Nani and Grandpa were totally on board.  They’ve been looking forward to this golden age of grandkid sleepovers without the killjoy parents around to spoil the fun.  I presented the idea to my guy as “special time with Nani and Grandpa” and he jumped at the notion.  This was  a couple of weeks away and even the best ideas can lose their luster over time.  My mom and I kept cool heads about the whole prospect, careful not to get our hopes up or to oversell it.   A sort of “we’ll see if it happens” casualness seemed to be our best offense.

The big day finally arrived and we agreed to meet in Boston.  Not quite the halfway point but a ride on the Swan Boats and lunch in the Public Garden sounded so much more appealing than, “let’s meet at that rest area off of I-93 in Methuen.”  It was a gorgeous June day sunny, warm and perfect for our meet up.  We stepped out of the parking kiosk in the Common and joined just about every elementary school in the Commonwealth.  There were kids everywhere!  There were kids trouncing up the steps of the State House, kids having their school field day and kids in line for the Swan Boats where we were headed.

We boarded the boat and I looked at my boy and my heart smiled.  The last time I was on one of these iconic boats I was his age sitting next to my grandparents.  I wondered if this day would become a memory for him.  We glided around the pond taking in the beauty of the scenery that has remained unchanged since Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings” was published in 1941.  Someday I would be taking my grandkids on their first Swan Boat ride.  Poetic thought.

We made our way around the Public Garden stopping for the requisite photo on the bronze ducklings and setting out a blanket for a picnic.  When lunch was finished Nani read the famous book that endears so many to the Public Gardens.

One of the favorite memories of the day was playing Duck – Duck – Goose.  At first we sloughed off the request.  But he asked again and we agreed.  Excited that he had us, he clarified the rules and then appointed himself to go first – naturally.  He “goosed” me first.  This was a strategic choice seeing as I was the only one fully sitting down.  I had forgotten that you don’t “sit” when playing Duck – Duck – Goose, you have to squat in a way that looks like you are sitting (just a heads up in case you forgot too!).  Between the younger one forgetting to “goose” and Grandpa’s cheating we laughed ourselves silly.

The time came to part ways.  My little duckling left the nest so matter-of-factly I realized I had been worried about the wrong kid.  It was his younger brother who had a hard time separating from his big brother.  His life has always included his older sibling.  I’ve also gotten so accustomed to having the two of them together that my nest felt a little empty too.