Always With You (in traffic; with iPad)
Charlie and I left for school at the (much more reasonable time of) 7.50am on Thursday morning. This meant that we didn't have to go out of our way to kill any time as, the later we leave, the more traffic—in the form of cars gridlocked on streets not made for such—we run into.
Charlie was cheery and looking around as the jazz (slightly dissonant) played from the radio. We stopped at a yellow light rather than block an intersection and then barely made the next green as cars came turning from a couple of directions.
Cry from the backseat, bang bang, cry.
Just as I drove onto a particularly narrow part of the street with another car squeezing in on my left.
I don't remember what I said, or if I said anything. Charlie let out a howl and, my right arm reaching back to him, I drove very slowly and calculated if it would do any good to pull into someone's very narrow, leafy driveway—to abandon the white car to go for a walk a foot from the stream of cars?
'Barney,' Charlie cried. 'Barney! All done Barney.'
'Barney's all with you,' I said. 'Always.' And then, 'We're always with you.'
'Barney!' said Charlie. Then, after a pause, 'Farm Families!'—a Milton Bradley game with plastic animals, plastic haystacks, and the song 'Old McDonald Had a Farm' that Charlie played, and loved, obsessively, to the point that we had to let go of the game.
'Yes, Farm Families,' I said. Charlie was back sitting in his seat and we were again stopped in the line of cars. I pulled out the iPad from my bag, turned it on, got on the Internet, Googled 'Farm Families game,' downloaded an image of the game, and handed the iPad back to Charlie.
He grabbed both sides and stared down at the image, so big and clear.
'Farm Families,' said Charlie. 'Farm Families.'
'Yes,' I said. 'We don't have that game anymore, but we sure have good memories of it.'
'Don't have it. Have it anymore,' said Charlie.
'Yes, but you can always look at the picture,' I said. And then, 'and Barney is always with us too.'
'Barney,' said Charlie.
'Yes, we can get photos of Barney too.'
Charlie held the iPad on his lap all the way to school and started tapping the screen and pulling up more images, including some of his favorite Vietnamese summer rolls and Chinese chow fun noodles.
'Spring rolls. Noodles,' he said.
'We can get those. Someday,' I said and we finally crossed the local state highway and started moving faster.
Charlie was happy when we got to school and got right to work, his teacher emailed me. He had one moment of anxiety around 1.30pm, but this passed as quickly as the morning's 'incident' in the car.
And, Charlie rode the bus home today and did, to quote the bus aide, 'great'—yes, indeed. Oh yes.