We were all buckled into the car by 8:30 yesterday morning, pulling out of the driveway to the sound of NPR’s coverage of the inauguration. My plan was to listen on the drive to school and then hope there was a radio playing at the preschool. If not, I was prepared to keep all the kids in the car to listen for as long as it took. I didn’t have a concrete plan for how to keep a two-year-old, a four-year-old and an infant content listening to NPR right outside their preschool for a half an hour. I figured I’d play that one by ear.
Benjamin was delighted as the band struck up, as he had been informed there would be no music on this morning’s drive. We sped along the 405, which was surprisingly empty for that time of day. I got off at Sunset, stopping for a light behind several cars at the top of the ramp. I began to cry as Biden was announced, so relieved was I that the Bush era was about to end. When the light turned, I pulled forward.
And that’s when I saw him. Standing between the two lanes of traffic, holding his sign: “Hungry.” He hasn’t been there for a few weeks, and so I have stopped bringing food for him. I did have a pear in the car, and I wanted to give it to him. He likes pears. He used to have them growing in his yard when he was a child. But, by the time I saw him, I was already pulling past him, unable to stop without causing an accident.
And so, I pulled on past, listening to the sound of change on my radio. We drove into the preschool parking lot at 8:50. The director was just at the gate, and before I turned off the car, I asked her if there was a radio going inside.
“We have a TV set up,” she replied. I hustled Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and Tweedledette out of the car and into the lobby, where, for the next 15 minutes, parents, children, and teachers began to collect. And that’s where I was at the historic moment – a boy on each knee and a baby strapped to my chest, crying on the floor on the preschool. Right where I needed to be.
Of course, one mother bitched about it. She was unhappy that she had not been informed in advance that the inauguration would be playing. “It’s for the parents, not the kids,” she snipped. Maybe her kid had no idea what was going on, but Zach sure knew. We’re one of those hippy-dippy houses where we talk about things going on in the world. To counteract little Miss Self Involved, I thanked the director for giving me a chance to have this experience with my children.
And out on the freeway ramp, there was a man who once grew up with a pear tree in his yard.