I had it down like clockwork.
Hair appointment at 11:00, pick up kids at 12:30. Home by 12:45, on the road by 1:15, 1:30 at the latest.
I had a big book meeting in NYC. (You’ll read about THAT in an upcoming blog!).
I planned to stay at my brother’s house in Connecticut and take a train into the city.
We’d been talking about The Plan all week, so when we walked in the house and Tucker stood just inside the door, slowly blinking his eyes, saying, “Meeting? New York? Uncle John’s?” I exhaled a long, slow breath, and explained The Plan all over again.
“I knew you were going to New York, but I didn’t know it was this week.”
“Yeah, Buddy. This week,” I said as gently as I could. “Today.”
He turned away and looked out the window facing the backyard.
“Can we go for a walk before you go?” he asked.
And what are you supposed to say to that?
Your thirteen-year-old boy asks you to take a walk? How do you say no?
So I followed him out toward the back woods. He led me onto the mountain bike trail he and Lee had been building since last spring.
Rain dripped off the trees, and my newly flat-ironed hair soaked up the moisture.
I hadn’t noticed the cordless drill in his hand until we crested the top of the trail.
“What ‘cha got a drill for, Tuck?”
“Oh, this,” he said in a casual, this old thing sort of way. “I thought I’d work on my trail a bit while we’re out here.”
I looked down at my black flats and imagined the traffic already building on the Merritt Parkway.
“I’m gonna head back,” I said.
“No, wait. You haven’t seen my trail.”
“I’m standing on it, Tuck.”
“No, the new one. The new one Daddy and I’ve been working on.”
I followed him deeper into the woods. I reminded myself to pack a book on tape ’cause at this rate I’d definitely be sitting in traffic. I wiped a rain drop off my nose.
“This is where we moved a bunch of stones,” he pointed, “and made the trail go down there.”
“You want me to walk down there? In these shoes?”
“You’ll be fine,” he said, reaching out for my hand.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a gentleman.
I made it down the trail and when we rounded the corner, I stopped in my tracks.
There before my eyes was the real-life manifestation of the popsicle stick model that had been on our kitchen table, living room floor and everywhere in between for the past month.
“You built this?” I asked.
“Me and Daddy,” he said walking to the bridge, grabbing a board and casually screwing it into the log cross braces.
“This is incredible, Tuck,” I said.
He looked up and smiled.
“Wait till I ride my bike across it,” he said pulling a screw from his pocket and reaching for another board.
Later, as I sat in traffic, trying to flatten my hair, wondering and worrying about my meeting in New York, I thought of Tuck’s model bridge that he’d made into a reality.
I stared at the red brake lights glowing in front of me and realized my boy had shown me that with hard work, focus, determination and belief, I, too, have the ability to make my dreams come true.