Kateri had a riding lesson this morning— her first scheduled lesson of the season that was not cancelled by the incessant rain. As it turned out, this morning it was only misting— imagine that! We were ready to ride.
When I pulled into her instructor’s driveway, my tiny daughter (she is still tiny to me, okay?) leapt from the van and rushed to the field where, of course, she chose the most enormous horse I ever saw: a beautiful shiny black quarter horse named Pepper. Kateri led Pepper back to the barn for a brushing. A short while later, when she and her instructor saddled up and took off into the nearby woods, I readied the rest of my gang for a walk down the quiet country road.
I had left the older boys at home and so Stephen rode along on his scooter, Juliette pushed Gabrielle in the stroller, and Raphael walked along holding my hand (strollers are for babies, don’t you know).
The five of us must have been quite a sight, scooting, riding, pushing, toddling, and waddling (I’ll let you guess who that was) along. The cars were few and far between, but not just one, not just two, but three passing cars stopped to comment. At least they weren’t bad comments.
“Now there’s a nice family!” one woman called out from her Subaru.
And then of course we got a couple of the classics: “Are these all yours?” one man wanted to know, and “You’ve sure got your hands full!” a second woman observed.
Though I began to feel just a little bit conspicuous, I quickly rejected that notion. The fact is, I told myself, there are more embarrassing things to be noticed for than your family. There are more terrible things to make a person stand out than a 3 year old girl singing sweetly in a stroller, her 6 year old sister pushing along with a bobbing ponytail behind her, an almost 5 year old boy sweating and scooting his way through the gravel, and a novice-walker holding his mother’s hand with sticky fat fingers, pausing to watch a babbling brook or to point at the mourning doves cooing from a nearby branch.
When another car came down the road and its driver slowed and stared, I waved. And smiled.