“Mom! I can smell the wind!”
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was off to get my hair cut. I needed one desperately – it had been about 5 months since my last one, and it was clearly way overdue. It was a perfect warm sunny day.
And at the last minute, I decided to take Howie with me.
He climbed into the car and settled into his seat. I buckled him in and told him where we were going. No preparation ahead of time. I slid the van door closed and got into my seat.
“Mom, can you roll down the windows?”
I was surprised by this request, to say the least. My sensory seeker becomes a sensory avoider when it comes to wind. He has always hated having the windows open in the car, ever since he was a baby. He doesn’t like the feel of the wind on his face, or the noise that the air makes as it rushes through the car. He hates any loud noise, really, except when he’s the one making it.
I’m the opposite. One of my favorite things ab0ut spring and summer was the windows down in the car. The feeling of the wind flowing past me calms me while I drive. The noise is comforting. And for 5 summers, I’ve missed it. Windows have been kept up and the air conditioning on around my kid.
I rolled down the windows halfway on both sides and pulled out of the driveway.
“Roll them down more. All the way. Make them match.”
I obliged, and we were on our way.
We live about ten minutes from the highway entrance, so for the first part of the ride we were traveling about 35 miles an hour. Every once in a while I’d check in to see how he was doing.
“Too windy?”, I’d ask.
“No!”, came the response each time. His hands bobbed up and down in the wind as it flowed past him.
Then the request : “Can you turn the music on?”
This too has been something I’ve missed. I love listening to music in the car – my music. But for so long the radio has taken a back seat to the kids’ movies, or nothing at all. Usually when Howie asks for “music” he means Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun” over and over again. And again.
This time, I turned on the radio. “How’s this?” I asked.
He was quiet as he listened to the different songs come on over the speakers. Occasionally, he would ask what a word meant from a song or tell me that “this song is all about fireworks!” (thank you Katy Perry). But for the most part, he just sat back and…relaxed.
We turned on to the entrance ramp for the highway and I started to roll up the windows. I explained that we were going to be going really fast and that it would get very noisy and windy in the car.
Howie protested. “No! Leave them open!”
So I did.
I hit the highway at 50 miles an hour. Then 55…then 60.
It got noisier and noisier in the car. Howie was still smiling.
65 miles an hour. Then 70. Still no complaining.
I turned the radio up as I approached 75 miles an hour. “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters came over the speakers.
“MOM!” Howie yelled from the back of the car. “I can smell the wind!”
We arrived at my hair cut right on time. For the 20 minutes it took to wash and cut my hair, Howie sat perfectly right next to me with my iPad, intent on beating my high score. Amidst all the noises and smells in the salon, he focused on his game. As we were leaving the receptionist said he was the best behaved boy they had seen in there in while.
The windows were open again on the ride home, and we were able to proudly announce to Dad that we made “green choices” for the whole trip.
Sometimes I get so stuck in our ways that I forget to push the envelope a little. I worry that if we don’t drive to school on a certain road, or eat pizza from a particular place, or run out of green straws, the whole world will fall apart. It’s easy to do the things we always do, even if it’s meant giving up something that I enjoy.
Like having the windows down.
It just took one time to try it. Now the windows are down every single time we’ve been out since then.
And together, my son and I can smell the wind.
“Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone
Try and make this life my own (and)
Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone
Try and make this life my own. . .
I’m looking to the sky to save me
Looking for a sign of life
Looking for something to help me burn out bright
I’m looking for a complication
Looking cause I’m tired of trying
Make my way back home when I learn to. . .fly” – Learn to Fly by the Foo Fighters