Thursday, March 09, 2006

Peak experience

What is a peak experience? How does one define bliss? I have an example.

It was almost 50 degrees out when I picked Ben up from school, so instead of heading straight home, we went for a long walk around the neighborhood. He practiced some balance-beam walking at one of the school playgrounds. We inspected various forms of nature. We discussed real estate values and window design. We took a nostalgic walk past his old school (and waved at his pre-K teachers hard at work). We played "catch the droplet" beneath a dripping downspout (sounds gross, but doesn't water clean itself during a three-story fall? and I told him to keep his mouth closed).

Ben was dragging his feet the closer we got to our street. Home to homework, home to the regular routine? He wanted to stay out. We got to the street just northwest of ours and discovered a bonanza: a backhoe and a cement mixer truck, men at work. It wasn't a major job—they'd cut and jackhammered a narrow trench and laid down some phone cables or something, and were beginning to fill the trench with fresh wet concrete. So we watched from the sidewalk as the lumpy gray pudding filled the trench and a man with a shovel smoothed it out a bit. When the trench was filled, a Teamster rinsed the truck and stowed the halfpipe pieces. (And no, I don't know if cement mixers use snowboard terminology.) Another worker clambered up into the driver's seat of the backhoe and whizzed around the tiny side street like a madman, shoving giant metal plates across the pavement to cover the freshly filled trench.

When the backhoe operator (who's got two boys of his own) was down to his last couple plates, he asked Ben if he wanted to do some work. So he pulled Ben up into the cabin onto his knee, and the fellas got to work. Ben was up there for less than five minutes, but I think that was plenty. When he climbed down, the look on his face was one of sheer bliss. My child was full of happy love for Mommy because he was now a backhoe operator. These were the happiest hugs he's ever bestowed, bar none. (The greeting he gave me after I spent five days out of town at Sundance? That was nothing compared with this.) If Ben had ever seen Jerry Maguire, I'm sure he'd have told the construction equipment, "You complete me." A boy and a backhoe. Could there be a sweeter pairing than that?

Sheer bliss.


DoctorMama said...

Now that is a lucky, lucky boy.
"You complete me" -- Ha!

Cricket said...

I love days like that. They're always outside in the sun. Heavy equipment doesn't hurt, either.

E. said...

Wow. This is the stuff my toddler's dreams are made of. In real life, at three, he'd be too scared to actually get up in a big machine like that. But at Ben's age, he'll be right there if he ever gets the chance.

Let's hear it for friendly backhoe drivers!

Krupskaya said...

I have a new crush, and it's the friendly backhoe driver. What an awesome thing to do.

Emma Goldman said...

When my younger nephew was about three, I was holding him, waiting for some friends to arrive at the local rinky-dink amusement park. He looked across the parking lot and street at two big machines and announced, "that's a wood chipper and that's a [some other big machine]." His Christmas calendar was the Caterpiller calendar with all the big machines.

JT said...

Danny has a special affinity for the Yellow Line (he calls it "Snokie"). On many weekday mornings, the conductor has recognized Alberta and Danny, who are often the only passengers going back and forth at, say, 11 am. A few times, he's invited them into the cabin and allowed Danny to honk the train's horn. The tyke is so amazed by it that he won't discuss it; I think he feels like that will take the magic out of the memories.

If Jake ever finds out what Danny gets to do while he's in kindergarten, there will be hell to pay in my household.

So psyched for your lovely day with Ben!!!