Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Minutes

About two miles from our home, there is a really cool, ethical grocery store. There are three grocery stores a lot closer--and when walking, two minutes versus thirty makes a big difference (especially with the baggage en route home.) When Jennifer or I are feeling particularly energetic, we sometimes give each other a fun little smile which means, essentially, Want to go for the Far Grocery Store? That really cool, ethical one?

And when embarking upon such journeys to the Far Grocery Store--loaded up with either our hiker's backpack, a bike trailer, or canvas bags to lug the food home in--we kind of feel adventurous. Watch out, Indiana Jones, here comes the Reynolds Grocery Trip.

There are all kinds of obstacles along the way...

*Sudden rain! Bam! Quick, run, take cover, launch the umbrellas! No, no, feel the rain! Yes, yes, become one with the rain!

*Sudden hail! Bam! Quick, run, take cover. Yes, yes, take cover, this stuff stings!

*Tired four-year old! Bam! Quick, run, take cover! No, no, wait, stay, hoist him onto the shoulders, forward march!

These outings to the Far Grocery Store always feel like a Thing To Do. Not just a quick bop in for the list, but rather an all-out grocery-store hullabaloo, an activity, a main event. And Jennifer, Tyler, and I usually come home exhausted.

However, this past Monday, we had a first on a Far Grocery Store trip. About ten minutes into the walk / scooter back home, Tyler stopped scootering and boldly announced, "I have to do a pee straightaway."

So I asked what every parent asks their four-year old in this kind of situation: "Can you hold it?"

Tyler looked up at me, breathless and as if to show rather than tell his answer, he danced a little jig right there by his scooter.

I looked back at the super-cool, ethical Far Grocery Store shimmering in the distance. They have a super-cool, ethical, clean bathroom.But ten minutes walk back? In the opposite direction!? That would mean the ten there and then the ten all over again to get back to where we were, only much more exhausted. So, we're really talking fifteen back, and then twenty back to here.

Forward. Got to move forward.

So I calculate again and recall that there's a small divergent path off the sidewalk at one point up ahead, where Tyler used to pee when he was potty training and we happened to be out and about. That divergent path was, say, by my calculations, approximately, maybe...fifteen minutes up ahead.

I knelt down. "Hey little man, can you hold your pee for a little longer?"

Tyler looked up at me and said, "How long?"

And some sort of Parenting Instinct to Lie must have kicked in, because from the very marrow of my being came the words, "Two minutes."

Two minutes!?

Two Minutes!?

Immediately I thought back to my own childhood, whereby I would ask my lovely mother all kinds of time-oriented questions:

"Mom, how long until we can go to the comic book store?"

"Two minutes, Luke."

"Mom, how long until school starts?"

"Two minutes, Luke."

"Mom, how long until I can eat that cake?"

"Two minutes, Luke."

"Mom, how long until I can drive a car?"

"Two minutes, Luke."

It seemed instinctual. Everything was two minutes. The Christmas Tree farm five towns over where we drove to get our Christmas tree each winter was 'two minutes' away. The rest of the cleaning should only take 'two minutes.' Everything would be better in...

Tyler looked up at me with the faith of a child. "Okay, Daddy, let's g. But let's go SUPER-FAST!"

We sped up and off and into the horizon.

Ten minutes later, Tyler said, "Daddy, I have to do a pee SUPER BAD, straightaway!"

I looked up ahead and I could begin to make out that beautiful divergent path. Yes! We could surely make it there in...

"Two minutes, son! We can do it!"

And off we sped, time-warping ourselves forward to the safe-peeing zone, and then making it there just as my son's bladder was about to erupt.

Before my high school graduation in Windsor, CT many years ago, the then-Superintendent of Schools shared a quote that went something to the effect of: "He who is victories is usually he who can hold on just thirty seconds longer."

At the time, I thought, very powerful philosophy of sticking it out, hanging in there even when it feels like you have to quit.

But after Tyler and Two Minutes, I find myself thinking--now wait just a couple of minutes: just how long are these thirty seconds?

And I wonder if, sometimes, God is watching all of us, knowing exactly where the best Pee Spots are, and kind of telling us, "Hey buddy, just hold on for two minutes--just two more minutes." Because maybe, like a parent, He knows if he told us, "Look, it's going to be a long, long time before that wall breaks" we'd kind of crumple to the ground and just fall apart.

Two minutes can sometimes be a very, very long time. Two minutes can be an eternity. But I know that however long two minutes' takes, it's always worth the excitement of the adventure, the rush for the finish line, the joy of the journey. And when we arrive to that Pee Spot or Promised Land--sweaty and bladders bulging--I wonder if two minutes suddenly feels short once more.