When Victor woke up from his nap, he was in fine fighting spirits, not really able to keep still. I battled the heavy exhaustion that has settled around me like a blanket of late, for a few hours, before I figured, the poor dear just couldn’t take it anymore, and hauled my 30-something ass off the couch to take him out for a walk.
We started out just after 9pm, when he’s supposed to be curled up snugly in his bed, but of course, since he hadn’t gone out in the afternoon because of the 2:30pm-5pm nap, there was little chance of him being willing to settle down then. I zipped on my jacket and he bounced up and down, eyes alight, begging for his. “My dracket! My dracket, Mama! Zip! Zip!’ he insisted. Once zipped in, he beamed up at me and slipped his warm little hand into mine and dragged me to the door. “Come ON, Mama!” and we were off, except for a swift and fumbling locking of the door, despite the lights still on and the TV blaring.
I let him lead the way, out through the building the long way around, and down by the hot tub and the pool rather than the back near where our car is parked in the garage and the gate opens onto the parking lot for Taco Bell and 7-11. Instead, we moved out into misty silence, the soft bubbling of the stream and the hot tub, the only sounds to accompany the dripping of moisture from the trees. The fog wasn’t heavy or very low to the ground, but there was enough of it to cast a hazy halo around each lamp that lines the path, to make the tops of the other buildings in the complex indistinct and the dark sky, lost and murky with a faint, pink reflective glow up above.
He led me a merry chase, did my son, around to the playground first, where we dug in the wet sand and built sand-domes and a series of walls that added up, not so much to a castle, as to a maze. He also wanted to jump off the top of the climbing structure of course, as he always does, and liberated a few rocks from the bordering stream, weaselling his little hands in under the safety gate to bring them over to his lair under the climbing structure. A half an hour slipped by thusly and then he decided it was time to go, picked up his rocks and put them back, grabbed my sandy hand, with his own, equally sandy paw and pulled me back onto the meandering paths between buildings.
Around we went past the outdoor work-out stations and he tried every one, swinging from the high bars and then jumping down as if their height was negligible to him and scaring the living daylights out of me, his hovering parent. Two circuits we made of the area past the playground, with puddles to splash in at the start of the second, before we were off again and he led me out and through onto the driveway, still holding my hand, following its curve back homeward.
The trees along the driveway loomed out at me from the mists, their branches bedecked with pale gold medallions that whispered quietly of the just-passed season with every breath of chill, late Fall wind. I sunk my chin into my jacket, moving along at Vic’s pace still while he grew quieter and quieter himself, the chatter that had dominated the walk earlier, fading to silence until at last, just a few steps from home, he just sat right down on the curb and sighed deeply.
“Hugga, Mama?” He lifted his arms up to me and I hefted him onto my hip. This time we came in from the back, past where our car would be, if Sebastien didn’t have it out for work. Into the elevator we stepped, where Vic rested his head on my shoulder and declared softly, “Sleeply.”
Upstairs, he still fought and argued about brushing his teeth, washing and taking his pants off, though I did eventually convince him that wearing sandy shoes, socks and pants to bed was not a good idea. His shirt, however, he just would not part with, so eventually it became his pajama top for the night along with a pair of soft and clean leggings. I curled up next to him on the bed and he sucked down a cup of juice, murmuring quietly to himself or to me, between sips, until at last, sleep snuck up behind him and sent his eyes closed, tiny nails still encrusted with lingering bits of sand.