Field Trip to Memory Lane

“In childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking out. In memories of childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking in.” — Robert Brault

“Daddy, are you excited about the field trip tomorrow?” Lila asked as a grin bunched her freckled cheeks. Her eyes were wide with the night-before-the-class-trip wonder.

“Yes, Flossy.” I answered halfheartedly, eyeing my calendar on my phone. My jaw tensed as all the items on my to-do list raced through my mind. She had given me the permission slip weeks before and I’d scribbled my name on it. Not really giving much thought to the date, time, or even location. The joy in my little freckled face brown-eyed girl urged me to sign on the dotted line. I’d given her my word that I would go. It was possible, but I’d just have to work on my day off.

I loved field trips as a kid. Growing up in a single parent home, we didn’t get to travel much outside of school, and mama’s work schedule didn’t allow her to tag along on field trips. I used to envy other kids whose parents went with us. I always wanted to be that dad.

We arrived at Coffee County’s Heritage Museum, enjoyed a brief talk about the exhibits, and then strolled around them trying to take it all in. (If you know me, you know I’m a bit of a history nerd.) We found some antique ice cream sundae dishes and Lila’s eyes sparkled. Before my diagnosis with diabetes, we would sneak away for banana splits at the DQ. Lila had to have a picture taken.

Lila & the Sundae Bowls

We wandered from room to room. Then I was slapped with a memory, which time almost robbed. In the Train Room, I saw a miniature train. One-eight the size of the locomotives that once roared down the tracks in our town.

A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. It couldn’t be. It was! The train that once stood at the local library. I had played on this very train as a kid. I looked at the seat that was faded from countless kid’s bottoms rubbing the black paint. Memories of twisting the knobs, pulling the levers, and inspecting the gauges poured into my mind. I read books about a man with a big yellow hat who owned a curious monkey on the back of the engine.

My mama took us to the library on her days off almost every week. We’d spend entire afternoons surrounded by books. Looking back, it was the most inexpensive form of entertainment for my family. We formed some of my fondest memories in the silent aisles of books at the Satilla Regional Library with mama.

By the end of the day, I realized that even though my mama didn’t get to attend many school functions; she taught me the value of being present in her kid’s life. I pray I pass this legacy on to my children.

Babies Grow Up

Babies grow up.

When you’re the one staring at a black and white ultrasound photo on your way back from the doctor’s visit, you have no idea how fast life will happen. One day, you’re fixing bottles of formula, changing diapers, and spending endless exhausting nights bouncing your bundle of joy because you didn’t warm the bottle you fixed to right temperature and now their tummy aches. You fumble your way through the toddler years. You teach them to walk and talk. Your chest swells with pride at the first “ma-ma” or “da-da.”

However, at some point, there is a shift. Instead of teaching them to walk and talk, you tell them to sit down and listen. They follow you, taking in the world around them by asking you a million questions. You are the center of their world. You have their undivided attention. Tiny voices interrupt every bathroom break asking “if you’re in there,” as little fingers poke under the door. Still, you have no idea how fast life happens.

Before long, you’re teaching them to shave their face or legs, how to drive, and consoling them after they experience their first heartbreak. The million and one questions have slowed. Now, you’re the one asking the questions, wanting to be a part of their world. The answers, like Heinz ketchup in glass bottles, only flow with a little prodding. Every drop is worth the effort. They’re your babies.

But babies grow up. I did not know how fast life would happen. Time is funny. It can seem like it’s never ending, but slip by you without notice at the same time. Nowadays, we talk about serious stuff, like college choices, career paths, and other major life choices. What happened to Green Eggs and Ham or Mickey’s Hot Dog dance? You never realize how fast, but babies grow up.