We watched them from our beach chairs, the family with the little kids. Dad was chasing the three-year-old along the water’s edge of our community lake. Mom, pregnant enough for me to think Oooouch every time she walked, snagged the 18-month-old’s arm moments before he was about to barrel into the freezing cold lake. The three of us snickered.
“Remember that?” I asked my husband, Pete, and my neighbor, Susan.
My son suddenly appeared before our chairs, wearing his soccer uniform from the game he’d played and I’d coached earlier yesterday afternoon. “We’re going to the far dock,” he announced, before following his big brother and two friends carrying fishing rods.
The eighteen-month-old began running, arms out, exclaiming, “Dada, dada, dada!” as though his father had been lost and presumed dead instead of on the other side of the picnic table for a few moments.
Our sons didn’t even turn back to say good-bye. See you later. Love you. Don’t wait up for me. We’ll call when we get there. See you on Father’s Day. Or Christmas.
And we sat. The three of us, two mothers and a father, catching up on soccer and work and what’s new in the neighborhood. The young parents never did. They followed, shadowed and carried various children. They wiped mouths, adjusted little overalls and demonstrated how to dig in the sand.
A neighbor dropped by, looking like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins with a big broom propped over his shoulder.
“We’re having a yoga class on the dock at 5,” he announced. “You are welcome to join us.” I didn’t want to do yoga, but I was secretly happy that I could do yoga with them. I didn’t have to shadow anyone, anymore.
The family with the little kids had managed to make their radius a little smaller so that they weren’t dashing across the sand to chase someone small quite as often.
Our kids returned from the dock, and my son the soccer player ran into the lake. His friends wouldn’t join him. We broke up a few wrestling matches as he tried to dunk the other boys into the water. When he got out of the water, I gave him the towel I’d brought, knowing full well that he and his soccer uniform would wind up soaked. We packed up our chairs and headed toward the parking lot.
Along the way, I heard the young dad ask the young mom, “Is this your water?”
“No,” she shook her head. “I never did get any water and now I’m dying.”
And then we left the lake for the afternoon, right in the middle of yoga class.