Every day after work, I pick Lila up and we drive home the same way. We take the back way, BEHIND the diner, over the train tracks, past the furniture store, over the bridge with the trains parked underneath, and onto the highway. From there we drive past the lake and through downtown until we get to our exit and during that time, I usually have to answer a thousand questions about my day, the trains, traffic, the mall, birds, skyscrapers and anything else that Lila happens to think of as her mind wanders through our regular route.
But today is special. It is November and Thanksgiving is next week so I know something that she doesn't. So just as we pass the mall, I get into the right lane and she notices the off-ramp approaching. I look in the rear-view mirror and see panic in her eyes.
"WHY ARE YOU GOING THIS WAY?" she says, doing her best impression of me when I want her to stop whatever annoying thing she's doing.
"We're taking a detour, sweetie. I have something I want you to see." I smile into the mirror as I take the curve a little too fast and come to a stop at the red light under the overpass.
"I don't LIKE detours! I WANT TO GO HOME! I WANT TO GO HOME! I WANT TO GO HOOOOOME!!!!"
The light turns green and we take the left turn that will bring it into sight. "Lila, sweetie. Can't you just trust me? You are going to LOVE what I am showing you. If you just stop screaming and acting like a maniac and look up ahead, you will see it in about 30 seconds."
She continues to scream and throw as much of a fit as is possible while tightly strapped into the car seat with her billowy purple winter coat puffing out around the straps. I see it coming into view, but she refuses to look and keeps yelling at me.
Another red light.
"Lila. Liii-la. LI-LA!" She looks at me through the grimacing and pouty face. I point. "LOOK."
She isn't really sure what she's looking at yet. She sees SOMETHING up there...different colors and brighter lights and this is enough to get her to stop the tantrum.
Light turns green.
As we approach, she begins to make it out and I look back again and she's making a little "o" with her mouth now. "THEY PUT UP THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!! AND THERE'S THE TREE! AND THEY ARE GETTING READY FOR ICE SKATING! AND THERE'S DECORATIONS ON THE STREET LIGHTS!" Now she is smiling. Not just smiling, but beaming! "When will they light up the Christmas tree?" She asks, eyes full of anticipation.
"Next weekend," I tell her as I put on my right signal and pull over next to the square. "Wanna go?"
"YEAH" she says, half laughing and half trying to be cool.
"What do you think?" I ask. "Wasn't that detour worth taking? I mean, we can just get back on the highway and not take detours anymore if you want."
"NOOOO." She says. "I think we should take this detour all the time!"
"Great," I think. "So now the normal, quick, easy way home will be the tantrum-inducing detour now." I realize that dinner is going to be little later every night. At least for the next month or so. But it's worth the look of wonder in her eyes right now.
|Find more photos at http://www.davidmetraux.com/centralny.html|