Coûp de foudre (#301)

A bolt of lightning—a coûp de foudre–struck directly above the front porch of our house where Charlie and I were waiting for the return of the red schoolbus. Thunder came next and the house rattled; Charlie, who had been pacing on the porch, turned his head upwards.
Umbrellaporch_1
He had awoken at 5.45am, nervous, as he has been most days on waking (from moving from one state of consciousness to another?), then desperate when a chew tube–one of the many favorite comfort objects Charlie has been taking to bed–was nowhere to be found. After I had been searching myopically for some minutes, Jim turned on the light and there was the chew tube under Charlie’s bed. Jim offered a pep talk–“You’re gonna have a great day today! See the red schoolbus! See your teacher!”–and Charlie came down the stairs wrapped in his blanket and, grinning, took a dish of leftover rice out of the refrigerator and breakfasted.

By 7.22am, he had his clothes, coat, hat, and gloves on and was running in the grass in the front yard while rain fell more and more steadily.

38 more minutes and the showers turned into a drizzle then a downpour–I called Charlie to the porch.

“I want eat rice,” said Charlie.


I brought out the half-finished bowl and a spoon and Charlie ate bites and ran up and down the stairs. By now, his fleece jacket and hat were getting wet through and his shoes soaked; Charlie readily assented to replacing these with his yellow rain boots and stood all atttention in those, waiting. The rain was coming down in waterfalls, almost blindingly as I was to encounter later as I drove in the watery atmosphere atop the Pulaski Skyway, no hint of the New York skyline visible.

Charlie was waiting for the one thing–that schoolbus–that would set off the familiar chain of events of bus, school, bus, babysitter, speech therapist, Mom home, trip to the grocery store for a special Monday pack of sushi, “hot showah,” looking at photos on the computer, “beddtime.”

At 7.39am I hummed “Little April Showers” and Charlie started singing “Dip dip dop lil’ Apwil s’owers, dee dah dah doo dah dah daaah dah dah day………….” Lightning struck a few more times and thunder too, but less intensely. Charlie ran down onto the lawn holding the top of his Bob the Builder umbrella, his head constantly turning left to see if the bus was coming.

I tried to keep my worry to myself: Would they remember after the two week Spring Break? Were they delayed by an accident? The rain must be slowing them down, I had time to drive him if I had to …….

Charlie jumped up and down, his upper torso just bent over, a shivering coursing through his body (which, later in the afternoon, so startled a woman at the grocery store that she jumped). I pulled my rain coat over my head and looked left, too.

A few minutes after 8am, the bus appeared, Charlie put on his backpack and ran as the aide, pulling aside her sari folds, slid the door open. The bus hesitated as cars came down the street in the opposite direction, then drove away in light thunder and heavier rain.

Coup de foûdre means not only a “lightning bolt” but also “love at first sight”: That feeling when you know “I’ve found it!”–eureka.

When you know, it’s what I’ve been looking for.

That would be, for me, knowing what Charlie most needs to lead a good life and knowing my boy who–when he knows where he’s coming and going–knows what the thunder says, and which answers are blowing with the wind.

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