My head felt like it was in a vice. I spent the night on the couch with an ice pack draped over my forehead. My body was drained of every last ounce of energy. Luckily, my throat was back to normal, and I felt like the worst was behind me.
Yet I could not sleep.
But I had to get some rest because the next morning I’d signed up to chaperone a lively group of first graders on a field trip to a local farm. Doubts crept in. Maybe I should stay home and rest. This was Lincoln’s field trip. Had it been Luca’s there no way I’d miss it because she’d be crushed.
But Lincoln? His attitude is more “take it or leave it” when it comes to his parents involvement with class activities. I have no doubt he enjoys the time we visit his class. But he’s not clingy nor possesses any signs of separation anxiety. He’s always been this way at school, church or with baby sitters. He knows we’ll be back so what’s the big deal?
I staggered up to the school the next morning on two hours of sleep. I didn’t feel sick. I felt like I was sleep-walking. I arrived just in time to help the children board the bus. Several of Lincoln’s friends asked to sit next to him, and he seemed confused about how to answer. His teacher was nearby and told the kids that Lincoln would be sitting next to his father.
Lincoln curled up next to the window. The farm would be wet and muddy so I helped him change into a pair of red rain boots. He said they felt too big and they were. I pushed his Levis down into the boots hoping that would help hold them on his feet. When I was done, I zipped his jacket while he continued to look out the window.
His mind was elsewhere. Does he know I’m here? Does he care? I asked a few questions. All I got in return was a “yep” an “I dunno” and few blank stares.
At the farm, we pressed apples to make cider, fed chickens, churned butter, picked up hay with a pitchfork, and learned how to plant seeds. Lincoln was on his best behavior, but then, he always is at school. I watched how he interacted with his fellow students and teachers. He treats everyone with kindness and respect. I have a better understanding why he’s well-liked among his peers.
I loved watching him slosh around the farm in his red boots and oversized blue jacket. More than once, I removed his glasses to wipe off mud. I was the ball washer at the golf course except I washed glasses.
When the time came to return to school, the kids lined up to board the bus. Lincoln stood next to me and looked straight ahead. He’s thinking about something, but what? Is he glad I tagged along? He’s not easy to read. He appeared to enjoy himself at the farm. But I don’t know.
The yellow bus pulled into the parking lot. As we walked across the lot, one of the teachers reminded everyone to avoid the mud puddles which had the exact opposite effect on the kids. Mud puddles were made for first graders. They looked like so much fun that I jumped in a couple. Lincoln thought that was funny even if the other chaperones didn’t.
I grabbed Lincoln’s hand so he wouldn’t slip going up the stairs to the bus. He couldn’t wait to take off his boots. As we made our way down the aisle, a girl called out, “Hey Lincoln, come sit by me!”
“I’m sitting by my dad” he replied.
In his own way, I think he’s glad I showed up.
Next time I’m bringing my own pair of rain boots.