…The eight minute drive to school in the morning with Jake is one of my favorite parts of the day. He drives and I sit in the passenger seat and make his drivers permit legal. On October 2 of this year, it will all come to an end. After that, he will drive himself.
Sometimes we sit in silence. Sometimes we talk about the mundane schedule of the day to come. Almost always we add a detail or two to the ongoing epic story we have invented around the neon yellow, rather corpulent – but quietly noble – sentry who serves as crossing guard at the corner near Memorial Lake. We call him “Hombre Amarillo” (Yellow Man). Or just “The Hombre”.
And some days we talk.
One particular morning, just as we were passing The Hombre – who was on this day sitting shivering from the cold in his Hombre-mobile (a very ordinary white pick up which always stands in stark contrast to his shockingly bright, all-encompassing yellowness) – Jake began informing me about his great ambitions in life: to make a difference, to help rescue the planet from our generation and, if that fails, to help give us options. I thanked him for doing that (and I meant it!) but I added that he should make sure to have a good quality of life to go with all that ambition, and suggested my own story as an example. He replied that he had big things he wanted to accomplish and that it may not be his destiny to be happy – and that may be the price he will have to pay to be a success. We sat for a bit. And then I asked him if he thought I was a success. He went quiet for a quick moment and then said, very thoughtfully, “I think…that you think you are a success.” With that, we pulled up to the school. We got out and I went around behind the car to take his place in the driver’s seat for the ride home. As we passed behind the car, I gave him a quick hug and said, “You are very wise…now go learn stuff”.
Driving back home along the same route, I came to a stop at The Hombre’s crosswalk as he glided majestically to the middle of the street, having taken his hand-held stop sign from its specially made hand-held stop sign holder. He turned to face the oncoming traffic, stood solidly on both thick, bright yellow feet and heroically thrusted that stop sign high in the air making it safe for one very small little girl to cross the street…