The little boy pressed the button on the console, stepped on the pedal and grinned as the fire truck moved forward. It was about time, he thought. He’d been waiting all day for this, and he didn’t like having to wait till they were all home before he could actually ride around the neighborhood with it.
He may be only four, he thought, but he still had much to do. So many people to see, so many places to go – that sort of thing.
Mom could have done it any time in the afternoon, but she was too busy. And when she finally did have time, she was too grumpy. The little boy hated grumpy dispositions. He couldn’t abide by it.
But she was the boss of the house – of that he was clear. She knew the rules and even set them herself. Everyone else just had to follow them.
So, while she could have accompanied him as he made his rounds through the neighborhood, he’d much rather wait for daddy to come home. He was more fun. He had more patience with all the starts and stops, and all the things he loved to do that it had now become a ritual.
First, drive around the block, maybe check out some plants along the way. Then off to see where the ants marched in a straight line towards the anthill at Old Bill’s house in the corner. They were all made of wrought iron, but to the little boy, they were real. Ants in a row all heading for the anthill, and overlooking them was the big kahuna ant, on his tricycle. The little boy had a tricycle, too, and sometimes he rode that. But the fire truck was more noticeable. Less work, too.
Then there was the Buddha, or little Buddi, as he liked to call him. Set in front of a tree trunk and fenced in with the cutest picket fence he’d ever seen, he’d ask daddy for some change so he could add it to the pile that was now growing. Offerings, mom had said one day. She had little buddis of her own around the house but she never put coins in front of them. That was okay though, the little boy thought. He hid all the coins behind the headboard anyway.
Then there was the little house at the base of a tree a few houses down. He’d stop his fire truck, and crouching on his knees, he’d knock three times and ask, “is anyone home?”
Of course no one was home. If mom were with him, she’d roll her eyes and tell him that. But then her voice would soften and she’d ask, “Do you think they’re all asleep, love? Or do you think they’ll answer the door?”
There was a hobbit house to the right as well, situated in a rock. Sometimes he noticed it and sometimes he didn’t. For it was time to head for the fire station.
At the fire station where Batman oversaw everything from the roof, the little boy would stop his little fire truck away from the path of the three red garage doors. Then daddy would lift the little boy up so they could peek through the garage windows and knock on each door to see if anyone was home. Sometimes they were and they’d let him climb up the fire truck and stare at everything in amazement. The firefighters would even let him press a few buttons. Sometimes they’d even let him wear the hat, too, though it was too heavy for him. He preferred the one that mom got him, the one he wore now. It was his fireman helmet, she said.
When the round around the block was over, the little boy would drive home, with mom walking ahead of him, and daddy at the rear. Even the little doggie, Truffles, would come with them. That was the way he liked it – with everyone around him.