We had a little rain this morning. Twelve to fifteen inches depending on who you ask. When the storm blew over and the water receded, the Sonars went out to play. They’re lankier versions of the waddling puddle ducks they were a few years ago. They have an angular grace now as they leap over puddles and bogs rather than swishing through them. When I watched them splash and chase grass-blade boats in the gutter currents, I remembered a short piece I wrote a while back, on an afternoon when heavy rain surprised us at afternoon pickup from school.
The first drop from the grey-black sky splatted against my right lens. One, two, three beats between the lightning and the thunder. One, two, three strides to damp hair and a spotted shirt. By the time I crossed twenty yards of macadam to the portico my hair dripped, my shirt was plastered to my chest, my arms were slick with rain. I jogged the last few feet, leaping over the final puddle alongside another mom. We laughed our disbelief at the suddenness of the downpour.
Cars wound around the pickup circle, lights blinkering, wipers swiping uselessly at the sheets of rain. The car queue stretched down the block like a sluggish, twitching snake thumping out a wiper-blade heartbeat.
Older kids were outside under the portico. Younger in criss-cross-applesauce-nobody-goes-anywhere-unless-you-tell-your-teacher-first lines in the entry hall. Aides and administrators in ponchos and walkie talkies tried to match kids to cars without dripping on the floor, without putting the wrong kid with the wrong adult, without losing little sister in the crush of people, trying to keep kids from washing away in those last steps to car doors under umbrellas.
I slide through a door between a custodian with a Yellow Caution Wet Floor sign and the gym teacher in neon green galoshes and two terrified looking preschoolers clutching his jacket. I find one of my kids by the cafeteria door, catch the attention and a thumbs up from his teacher, scoop up my second child and touch his teacher on the elbow. She smiles and squeezes my hand as I squeeze back through the crowd with my treasures. I dodge out the side door, stepping aside for the principal in a long yellow raincoat and waders.
I ask the kids if they’re ready to get a little wet. Their eyes twinkle.