The Wonder of Fleeting Fall Days

The Wonder of Fleeting Fall Days

One mom soaks in the change of seasons with her young son, who himself is growing and changing.


By: Lexi Walters Wright

My son requests we travel by bike to preschool most mornings now – using the same tone as when he requests “mush” at breakfast. He’s asking, but he’s not really asking.

And I oblige.

"Mush" is oatmeal, its nickname borrowed from the little old lady who whispers "hush." Mush is a fall food in our house. And despite our still-sweltering New England afternoons, autumn is definitely upon us. You can tell because, after our oatmeal is eaten, I strap my sweatered son into his bike trailer and zip my own windbreaker. The morning sun may be up, but it'll be hours before the temperatures creep above 65.

It would be much simpler to drive to preschool, for sure. This year I have to pack snacks and a lunch for my son daily, and doing that prolongs our morning routine just enough that we barely squeak out the door in time as it is. But I know how much he likes it when I pull him in the bike trailer. And the calendar shows me there won’t be many more weeks when we can do this sort of thing. He’s asking, but he’s not really asking.

So I oblige.

The rest of the day will have to wait.

En route to school, on the bike path that bisects our little neighbourhood, my son and I are silent – which is odd for us. He and I are both serious chatterers, so our quiet ride feels different. Pleasant, and somewhat reverent.

We roll along and I think about the first time I ever strapped him into the bike trailer when he was around seven months old. His helmet dwarfed his tiny head and kept slipping over his eyes, and I think we only travelled three blocks before I nervously shuttled us both back home.

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Now, at four years old, my son’s blond hair brushes the mesh cover of the trailer. His gangly limbs are folded in a way that doesn’t look entirely comfortable. His same-aged pals have all given up their parents’ bike trailers in favour of flashy balance bikes and training-wheeled rides. But my guy is smiling as he peers up toward the canopy of trees above us on the path.

“Oh my goodness,” he announces urgently. “The leaves are getting yellow.”

It takes everything I have not to launch into a mini-session about chlorophyll. If I am not careful, I will shift this moment of wonder into a squawky lesson. So I say, “You’re right, buddy. It’s beautiful, huh?”

He murmurs in agreement, and is wordless again.

In a few moments, we’ll arrive at preschool, where he’ll be greeted by a gaggle of coat-less classmates, all soaking in one of these last tepid days. They’ll dash around the little schoolyard playground and compare notes about impending Halloween costumes. How many costumes do we even have left before he gets too old?

I’ll chat with the other parents about where we’re each planning to pick apples over the weekend. My son, in a move that slays me each and every morning, will shout over his shoulder, “You can go now, Mom.”

He’s not asking. And I eventually oblige.

For now, it’s just the two of us, and the occasional snap of a stick beneath our tires. On we ride, into the day, into whatever comes next.

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