Maria and Mario agreed to a walk two evenings ago but we got in the stroller and remembered that the front tire burst during our library trip last Sunday when we put Maria on the foot rest of the stroller to make room for her friend and Mario to sit in the stroller seats. The stroller tire lasted almost a half of a mile before it succumbed to the pressure from above. When I told the kids the stroller was out of commission, Mario went straight for his bike. Maria went straight to my arms.
When that idea was shot down, she begged for the one-person stroller.
“Maria, why don’t you walk?”
“Because I am tired, mom, and I haven’t been in this stroller in a long time. It will remind you of when I was just a baby.”
She is smooth. She knows that I weep and get mushy about places, pictures, things that take me back to her or her brother being tiny. I helped Mario with clasping his Spiderman helmet (he still remembers the time that Pee-paw accidentally pinched his skin in the helmet and winces each time I put it on him) and gave him an initial push down the sidewalk. By that time, I looked behind me and there was “take-charge” Maria who had gotten the stroller off the porch and situated herself in it. She gives me the sly Maria smile and shouts “Let’s go, Mom! Love you!”
When we looked up, Mario was almost to the end of our block. He has not yet learned to make complete stops at intersections so I yelled for him to stop. He didn’t. That is when Maria Grace took charge. She jumped out of the stroller and darted towards the intersection yelling “Mario Joseph, stop!” When she caught up with him (after the intersection where he did glance back and forth for a millisecond), she ripped him up.
“Mario Joseph, you need to listen to your mom and your sissy if you are going to be allowed to ride your bike alone. You scared us and we do not like that. Next time you do that we are going to stop the ride and go home.”
And there you have it. My girl taking charge. The scary thing is that she sounded just like me. She has listened to me too well. Mario listened to her entire speech and followed it up with a sticking out of his tongue and a taunt (similar to what he does to his mama). Maria galres at him and scolds “that is inappropriate behavior, Mario.” Words right from her mama’s mouth. I intercede between the two but basically reiterate everything mini-me has said to him.
When we arrive at Panera, Mario parks his bike perfectly against the bike stand, asks me to help take off his helmet, and rests it on the handlebar. He smooths down his hair that got messed up by his helmet, and heads towards the door. He has to open it for us, which he is able to do after two minutes of extraneous pushing and me slipping my hand up top to give it a nudge (if he had seen me, it would have been chaos!). When we walk in, he turns to us and flexes his arms muscles. “I am strong and have lots of muscles!” Maria gives him a shout out: “Yes, Mario, you are the strongest!”
After retrieving water and saying hi to a few older guests (Maria asks if I am proud of her for saying hi to them since I tell her how good it makes people feel to see a little girl smile at them and say hi), we head back out for the ride home. There are two girls sitting outside, and Mario walks by, looks at me, and whispers “Look at those hot girls.” Heaven help me. Who teaches him these things? Maria rolls her eyes at me but then eggs Mario on by whispering “say hi to them, Mario” Yeah, I think I have a clue on who is his teacher….
Mario mounts his bike and takes off past Jeni’s and Stauf’s reciting “I am cool” the entire way. Maria follows him closely making sure that he is not getting too far from us. He stops at the light and both of them look down to see a tiny purple flower blossoming from the crack of the sidewalk.
“Mom” they both chime.
“Look at the beautiful flower. That is a sign of Spring.” Maria states.
Mario adds: “The sun helped it bloom.”
“Indeed, it did, Mario.”