His name is Abe. We call him Abe the Babe. He’s living proof that little boys are about more—far more—than snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.
Abe is my three—going on four—year-old nephew. He’s got a birthday no one can forget: Christmas day. A little boy who shares his birthday with Jesus can’t be all bad.
Snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails? Try lawnmowers, bulldozers, trains, planes, and automobiles.
Abe and I got to hang out last week. One-on-one time is a luxury for second-born children. We’re more accustomed to functioning within groups and going with the flow.
When I asked my nephew what he wanted to do, he didn’t say, “Can you take me to a movie?” or “Can we go to the pool?” or “Can we buy a toy at the mall?”
He said: “Let’s go to the carwash!”
This should not have surprised me. Abe has a reputation for sitting in the driver’s seats of vehicles and exhausting windshield wiper fluid to the last drop.
We started the day with books—The Big Hungry Bear, Where the Wild Things Are, and Ten in the Bed. We listened to “The Monster Song” at least 50 times. Then, we headed to the grocery store with a promise of a trip to the carwash after.
At the carwash, Abe fed coins and dollars to the payment machine and pushed the appropriate buttons. The green light sent him bouncing up and down on my lap as he “drove” us into the wash bay.
Not to worry. Abe is a very good driver.
Squeals and gasps of delight filled the car. Nothing—and I mean nothing—is cooler than the giant rolling brushes and colorful suds and high-pressure rinses at the carwash.
Never before had I thought to watch the wash process through the roof of my vehicle, but Abe deftly slid the sunroof cover open to make certain we took in every possible view.
Our experience within the walls of the carwash was so awe-inspiring, I considered an encore performance. Instead, Abe and I opted to go fishing.
Fishing—as in poles and hooks and bobbers and worms—is nearly as cool as a trip to the carwash.
At the lake, a fisherman packing up for the day gifted us a styrofoam container full of rich black dirt, nightcrawlers tunneling beneath.
We were in business.
My young nephew was into catching fish, but, like my Cub Scouts back in the day, he wasn’t big on touching their smooth, scaly, wriggly exteriors.
Slimy worms? Not a problem.
Abe fished nightcrawlers out of the dirt and handed them to me to bait the hook. Hook baited, he squeezed the rod, dropped the bobber, and reeled in catch after catch.
Laughter-laced shouts of “We got one, Aunt Genny!” and “He’s a fighter!”, and “Ahhh, look, he’s just a baby fish!” echoed across the water.
I freed each fish he hooked, then placed them–flipping and flopping–on an old hand-towel. With one quick flick of the towel’s corner, Abe sent the now flying fish careening into the lake.
Between catches, my nephew tugged on my leg or pounded my shoulder and pointed to the sky.
“An airplane!” and “Another airplane!” and “Look! Machine guns on the back!”
I never saw the guns, but I wasn’t about to question the expert.
As was the case with the fish we caught, I lost count of the number of airplanes that flew over the lake that day. But thanks to my observant nephew, I didn’t miss out on a single plane or fish or truck or spider web.
And I will, for the rest of my days, cherish the magic of a carwash.