At the Marine Corps Exchange here, there's a Starbucks. (A really good thing, in my opinion.) And right outside the Starbucks entrance is a vintage three-horse carousel.
This past Friday, I knew what was coming...because I recognized that relic that makes all children plead desperately with their parent for a ride or at least a chance to just sit on it. I know because I was once that child.
So I wasn't surprised by their question. The hope I saw in their eyes.
And to be truthful, I wasn't surprised by my reaction or reply.
"We'll see." (It's so much easier to say than no right away, isn't it?)
"We really need to get home." (True. But still.)
"It's probably got lots of germs." (Seriously?!?!)
They didn't argue. They sweetly followed me inside. Picked up medicine for Madeleine. Went to Starbucks where I ordered two vanilla milks and an apple juice in addition to my iced nonfat hazelnut latte.
We walked outside.
I thought about how we'd just come home late last night after a wonderful twelve day vacation. It was a seven hour drive which turned into 12 hours since we stopped for dinner and ended up in a Charlottesville ER to restitch Madeleine's chin injury from the diving board at the beach. (Stitching for the second time in five days when the first memory is still fresh? It's not fun for anyone involved.)
I thought about how we woke up that morning and drove my Mom (who had sweetly helped me drive home from Asheville) to the airport an hour away. And then drove from there to the base for a picnic to meet the men and women Brent will be working with this year. I thought about the traffic we would soon face on the way home. I thought about how nothing but toothbrushes were unpacked. All the laundry. I thought about how I just wanted a nap.
And I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I told them they could sit on the horses.
And then I put in two quarters.
I sat nearby, watching. Taking pictures. Thinking.
It cost me a dollar fifty in quarters and a couple minutes. It gave me three heartfelt thank-yous, a few moments to ponder, a memory that won't quickly fade, and a new perspective.
This year, I want to say yes more often. Yes to messy paint projects and linen closets emptied for hallway forts. Yes to building legos together and ice cream before lunch. Yes to bubbles and reading outside and listening to Star Wars discussion again and again and again.
I will probably have to reread this post many times to remember.
And that's okay.
Because I'm so glad I didn't miss this opportunity to overhear my littlest say to her brother:
"This is how princesses sometimes ride horses."