Sunday, September 22, 2013

Omens and omissions

My husband doesn't believe in signs. Even the posted ones – the ones that clearly translate important information such as speed limits and wait times and even the one's exclaiming “YOU ARE HERE!” with a big, red “X” – are met with some degree of skepticism.

He certainly doesn't believe in omens.

So it was somewhat of a surprise to me that, as we walked inside the entrance to the corn maze after having signed the official waiver of indemnity and responsibility for bodily harm, he instructed the kids to first notice a tiny sandpiper, which had lit in front of us, taking two or three hops before taking off again into the stalks, and then to follow it.

Of course, his instructions were only implied, as his actual words said “Look, that sandpiper is trying to show us the way,” but he should have known our kids would interpret the meaning thusly: “Follow that bird!”

I don't know how you feel about them, but I feel slightly off kilter and extremely thankful that I am not a single parent whenever faced with the proposition of visiting the agricultural destination mecca that corn mazes have wrought.

I BELIEVE in signs, especially the one I just read at the mouth of the maze that instructed us to keep our children within sight throughout the whole of the attraction. Yet, sprinting through weather heaved and stalk-riddled corn rows isn't within my abilities.

It only took one visit – an ill-fated 2009 solo sojourn to a big, destination farm in which I lost my oldest child in the corn rows for over an hour as I clasped her baby brother's hand in a too-tight grip as I screamed her name over and over in a panic – that convinced me “family togetherness” in such situations is the only thing that matters.

Well, that, and a working cell phone – which I am now crushing in my too-tight grip as my school-aged son takes off at a full-out gallop after the bird.

One turn at the head of the row and he's gone.

My husband realizes the error of his ways and tries to correct the mistake. He levels the only thing known to man (and boy) that has any chance of keeping the boy from flying off into the abyss … Ice cream.

We take turns yelling: “STOP RUNNING!” and “You won't get any ice cream if you get lost in the maze.” It feels like we're just hollering into the wind.

Each time, the boy returns. Though, he is silent as he stalks back under a dark cloud. “You are NO fun!” he accuses.

Still, we play the game.

There is trivia to learn and stations to tick off along the way as if collecting stamps on a passport. A sign that would prove “we were here.”

It took longer than he expected, even though the sign said to expect a two-hour walk.

But in the end he could agree, we got no help from the sandpiper, which, to the children's delight, seemed to lead us through the maze. Flitting this way and that, from one dead end to another, until we eventually found the exit.

I don't think birds really believe in signs, either.

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