Down by the River

It was beautiful fall day in Minneapolis. Soon, it will be cold and the ground will be covered in snow. We'll all be bundled in coats and scarves and hats and mittens, lumbering about in our heavy boots. Days like today are to be treasured so we went for a walk down by the river with our friends.

We arrived, found a place to park and stood by the car waiting to cross the street. I wrapped my left arm around Miguel's waist, grabbed his hand and began to dance. He laughed low and quiet, the way I imagine he'll laugh when he's a teenager or even a grown man. He said, "No waltzing in public, mom." I pulled back, "No?" He smiled and said, "Just about anything but waltzing." Anything but waltzing turned into a faux sword fight with sticks we found.

Once our friends arrived, the adults took off down the path and the kids lagged behind, exploring and climbing trees. They were never really with us - always doing their own thing. They do that more and more; They need us less and less.

I kept my eyes on them, not because they needed me to but because I needed to do it. I needed to feel that they were all within my reach when more and more they are just beyond it. When we reached the river, we stopped and turned around and watched them in the distance, all three kids straddling a fallen tree and talking animatedly to each other while we sat on another fallen tree and talked and took silly pictures of each other. Parallels.

We walked away from the river and into the woods and came to a small stream with muddy banks. I yelled back to the kids, "Don't get muddy!" Miguel called for me and I turned to find him standing with his toes on the very edge of the muddy bank, smirking at me. I watched as he jumped across the stream, watched as his shoes slid in the mud and he laughed as he ran to catch up to me.

"You got mud on your shoes. You are in big trouble, kid."

He shrugged before bumping me lightly with his shoulder, "Yeah, yeah, mom."

I watched him walk away like I was seeing him for the first time.

I don't know how many more days like this we have...days filled with sun, days of sword fighting with sticks. Time is taking us ever forward from fall to winter, from our kids' childhood to something beyond.