Check out this morning’s view.
Crews from the city are installing new sewage pipe down the center of our street. They’ve been working their way through the neighborhood over the past several weeks. For the next few days they’ll be right outside our door.
Sixteen years ago, I would have thought we’d won the lottery. My then two-year old loved tractors. We read from a number of tractor books at home and borrowed tractor videos from the library.
Wednesday mornings we would listen for the telltale signs of a truck on our street: trash pick-up day. His soft little hands clutched the windowsill, as he stood transfixed. I lifted him into my arms for a better look. He held his gaze till the garbage truck moved out of sight.
My sweet little boy never sat on Santa’s lap. It was too frightening. We avoided Santa as well as Santa’s cousins, the Easter Bunny and the large man at the bookstore dressed as the Cat in the Hat. They struck fear in his tiny soul.
Yet loud, bright, over-sized tractors were often the highlight of his day. What was once annoying (sitting in traffic next to an idling cement mixer) was suddenly a joy. In addition to Mommy-and-me art classes, visits to the bookstore and time at the park, tractors became a part of our days.
During my son’s second year, there were two construction sites in our neighborhood. As his fascination grew, I promised we would go see some of the tractors after his nap. You can’t get out and walk around a construction site, so I did the next best thing. I parked my van on the street next to the fence and we hung out there for thirty minutes.
Half an hour is a long time for an adult to sit idle. In toddler years, it must feel like a lifetime. Yet on that first trip to the construction site, he sat in his car seat transfixed for a full thirty minutes.
Once the framing is up, excavation tractors are no longer needed. We found another construction site in nearby Campbell. Our new spot allowed us to park off the street under the shade of a tree. My son’s expanding vocabulary now referred to the excavators as scooping tractors. We bought him a soft-sided book for Christmas that year about Scotty Skid Steer and read it again and again and again.
By Halloween as we approached his third year I was noticeably pregnant with his brother. We attended a couple of children’s parties in costume. I dressed in maternity overalls as a scarecrow and my active little boy went as a “scooping tractor.”
I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I had making his costume. It needed to be soft, flexible and easy to take on and off. We shopped together for the materials, and I worked on it during his naps. I could hardly wait to show it to him and still remember his tiny, tinkling, toddler voice when he first saw his tractor.
I bought a few pieces of soft foam for the frame and glued it together in a rectangle. I covered the frame with yellow felt, and then added foam wheels. An old, plastic vegetable cutting mat worked well for the “scoop” so if he fell wearing the costume he wouldn’t get hurt. I attached thick, black elastic in a crisscross pattern, much like suspenders. He wore a pair of hand-me-down coveralls underneath.
That soft-sided scooping tractor was a dress-up favorite for years.
My tractor-loving toddler is now 18 with no memory of his early fascination. He’s grown into a complex, compassionate and intelligent young man. He has also overcome a number of obstacles to get where he is today.
While those tractors were making a rumbling ruckus on our street today, my son was busy doing what a number of teens do at this age: sleeping late. He just completed his first quarter of university classes and is home for the winter holiday.
Here’s what else I see in this picture.
I see a hard-working crew, working together on a cold morning and getting things done. I see teamwork.
I see a woman driving the excavator. That makes my heart happy in a thousand different ways. I see progress.
I see the tiniest of bird’s nests in our now-bare Chinese Pistache tree. I see the wonders of nature.
I see our over-sized outdoor Christmas tree with half the lights needed to cover it. Every year a neighbor orders 300 trees from a grower for our neighborhood. Mike and I are block captains for our street. The trees are normally about 5 feet tall and 40 pounds. This year’s trees were twice that size. We didn’t have enough lights to cover such a big tree, so my husband went out and bought two strands of tinsel garland. He went out a few days later and bought even more
I hate tinsel, but I’ve managed to keep my mouth shut.
Now that, my friend, is progress.
Do you have an (ugly) picture that inspires (close to) a thousand words?