'I’ve gotta get out of the house and relax, or these kids are gonna drive me nuts!’ Mary thought.
“All right,” She yelled, “Everyone in the car.” Her directions echoed through the house.
The kids raced to the garage door and piled in on top of one another.
“Mom, Katie’s on my side,” Matthew complained.
“Nah, uh. I was here first. It’s my side.” Katie countered.
“Kids, just pick a spot and sit down. Now!”
Mary heard quiet grumbling as the kids obeyed and the seatbelts clicked.
‘Good,’ she thought, ‘now maybe I can relax.’
She shuffled through the radio stations until she found a favorite, then settled deeper into her seat.
“Moooom,” Katie drew out the name over the music.
Mary didn’t answer right away.
“Moooom,” Katie persisted. “Where are we going?”
Mary turned her music down a little. “It’s a surprise.”
“Where mom?” Matthew questioned.
“If I told you the surprised, it wouldn’t be a surprise. Trust me, okay?” She turned the volume back up.
“What kind of surprise?” Matthew asked.
“Is it going to be boring?” The disdain in Katie’s voice was obvious. “I don’t want to go to the store.”
“It’s not the store and it’s not boring. Now listen quietly until we get there.” She turned the music a little louder.
“We’re here!” Mary announced shortly after.
Katie looked out the window. “Oaks Park! YAY!” She yelled.
Matthew’s face lit up. “You’re awesome Mom, thanks.”
Mary smiled proudly to herself; she had chosen just the right place.
“Can I go to the slides?”
“Are Mark and Becky gonna be here?”
“No and no. It’s just us today and first we are going to RELAX on the walking trail.”
“Aw,” Katie pouted. “I don’t wanna walk.”
“You’ll like it once we get started, just watch.” Mary locked the car and led the kids to the dirt trail. “Besides, it’s not even a mile.”
They walked past the 1/10 of a mile sign.
“Mom?” Katie asked. “Is this the kind of road a horse rides on?”
“Mom? Do horses ever come to this park?”
“I don’t know”
“Mom? Do you think they do?”
“I don’t know. It’s possible I suppose.”
“Mom? Do you think I’ll ever get my own horse?”
“No.” Matthew shot in his answer before Mary could get a word in.
She flashed him the ‘leave-your-sister-alone’ face and offered her own response. “I don’t see why not, Katie. Now let’s just have some quiet time. Okay?”
The 2/10-mile marker passed by.
“Mom! Mom! Did you see that squirrel?” Katie pointed under a tree branch a few feet away.
“Uh, huh. Cute.”
“Moooom, come look.” Katie flagged her over.
Mary stopped mid-step and turned back to her daughter.
“Yes, I do.” Mary gave a patient and supportive answer. “Very cute, honey.” Katie kept her eyes locked on the squirrel. “Come on Katie, let’s keep walking.”
Katie bounced up. “Mom! Look, there’s another one!”
3/10 of a mile.
“Cool, Mom. Look at these mushrooms!” Matthew was tapping a large mushroom cap with his sneaker.
“Very cool, Matt.”
“Come see it, Mom. It’s huge!”
Mary sighed silently to herself and headed over with an encouraging smile. “Wow, that IS big.” She agreed. “But let’s keep walking.”
Matt jumped up and down on the path. “Mom, why is this dirt red?”
“Would it break if I beat it with a hammer?”
Mary couldn’t suppress a giggle. He was such a boy! “I don’t know what it would do. I guess I never thought about it.”
“Do you think it would explode?”
“No. It wouldn’t explode.”
“Mom, do we have to go so slow?”
“No, Katie, why don’t you two run on ahead, up to that corner, and I’ll catch up to you.”
The kids were gone before she finished her sentence.
In a moment Mary had her solitude; her peace and quiet. She looked up into the silent blue sky through the trees. ‘It’s so beautiful God. Thank you.’
“MOM!” Matthew and Katie yelled in unison from their perch at marker 6/10.
“Mom! Come on!”
She laughed. ‘And they’re so cute, God.’
Mary looked down the trail and gave them the ‘look-out-here-I-come’ eyes. She stretched her arms out and sprinted straight for them. “I’mmm commmming.”
Both kids screamed as they turned and ran down the trail.
Mary smiled to herself as she ran after her shrieking children. ‘If you can’t beat them,… join them.’
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