Every day we wait outside for a package we never ordered.
I use it as a distraction. When I am upstairs, finishing an email, an assignment, or another zoom meeting, I anticipate the screeching: ¨Help! Stop It! I know at the bottom of the steps I will find a familiar scene. Jordan, stomping around like Godzilla, chasing her brothers with the hope of catching them for a passionate embrace. It would be enough just to tousle their hair or hug their pajama clad bodies, but she loves a bit too fiercely and inadvertently hurts them. She is Elmyra Duff from my childhood show of Tiny Tunes, clutching her brothers so ferociously that their cartoon eyes would pop. I’m going to hug you and kiss you and love you forever. It’s endearing, but no one wants to be on the receiving end of her loving attack mode.
The boys have gotten resourceful. “Jordan, I have a surprise for you. It is upstairs if you want to come see it.” And then like a small puppy, she follows them, while they quickly lock the child gate behind her. It isn’t cruel, it is a survival tactic. And she thinks it is part of the game.
“Jordan. Why don’t we do something else? Let’s go see if the package arrived.” My words are enough to unlock her focus. It gives everyone a momentary respite until the next urge.
We turn the squeaky knob of our 1930s front door, careful not to crack the glass window – again. She jumps outside to embrace the day. It doesn’t matter if she is presented by the cascading sun, pounding rain, or unseasonably worrisome snow, she walks with purpose onto the porch. Cars stopped at the stop sign in front of our house have an opportunity to observe Ms. Jordan in her full glory: her quarantine outfit. Adult-sized fuzzy grey slippers from what could be the Davy Crockett collection, fluorescent yellow minion pajamas positioned perfectly to reveal a sizeable buttcrack, and atop her spiral curls is the Doc McStuffins hat she has been wearing vehemently since age two. The ensemble of the past sixty days. This girl loves a routine. Sadly, trying to propose to her brothers has become one of them.
“Is it here, Momma?”
This is when I feel guilty about my ruse. She stands in front of me, crossing fingers on both hands, staring up into the sky. Perhaps this is the day her wishes will come true. Never mind we don’t know what package and we never actually ordered anything, but today it might just come.
It gets pretty dicey when mail actually arrives. She decided her beloved gift will not come in an envelope, so she isn’t phased by bills or pamphlets. The smile from the Amazon box or the anticipatory bullseye is what she longs for. She has stood defeated over toothpaste and toilet paper, but remains hopeful every hour, sometimes every ten minutes, that next time there will be something more.
So, every day we look. We wait outside for a package we never ordered.
I use it as her physical therapy. I cannot get her to focus on teletherapy, complete exercises, or walk around the block. But the possibility of a package is enough to take the long journey one hundred feet from the back of the house to the front steps.
“Is it here, Momma?”
She grabs my hand. Pulls her pajama pants down to reveal just a bit more tush, repositions her hat and is ready to go. Together we push through the side gate, listening to the metal clasp crack on the splintering wood. We start the big climb, over a handful of pebbles strewn on the driveway, traverse across the front yard and take the final leap off the rock wall to reach our final destination. Crossed double fingers, hopeful eyes to the sky – alas no package. We return to make the long trip home. This kills at least seven minutes of the quarantined day.
“¨Jordan, did your package come today?” my husband asks her every night at dinner. Most days she just giggles, but today she is eager to talk.
“No. It will come tomorrow. It’s a Shopkins Chocolate Waffle”, she finally informs us. “I ordered one.” While she has learned to open the washing machine to clean her Minions on the third day of every week, she has not yet independently ordered anything from Amazon. Leave that to her brothers who have a running tab of $14.24 from the television program Noggin.
“Well, I think we should check for it Jordan. It doesn’t seem to have come.” Jordan bounces into her Dad’s lap, excited to scour Ebay for her cherished item: one Squish Delish Shopkins Chocolate Waffle.
Seven washings later of the minions, thirty-five journeys to the mailbox and far too many squeals of Help! Stop It! reveals a brown package addressed just to her.
“My package is here!” Practically tripping over her sagging pajama pants and oversized wooly slippers, she takes her prize and throws it at her dad. The mandatory twenty second hand washing after touching the brown paper was not enough to slow her down. As she takes a deep breath, Zac pulls out the beloved item: A Shopkins Chocolate Waffle.
He places it gently into the palm of her hand. She squints. “What happened?”
We gather as a family to look. It does not appear to be a toy. A key chain perhaps. A dessert for Ant Man. It is no larger than her thumb nail.
“It’s so tiny!” Her laugh fills the kitchen. There is something magical about her laugh. It radiates her entire body and revitalizes any room. It momentarily erases the last sixty days of isolation, the lack of routine, the unknown. “What happened to it?” She grabs her stomach, the sign of her heartiest laugh, almost enough to relieve her bladder.
When she has returned from the bathroom, and another intense hand washing, she pinches the item. “Nah,” She says as she tosses it into the crevices of the couch. “I’ll wait for a new one,” she declares as she walks to the front door.
Zac and I both know this tiny trinket is the only one on the internet, but of course we smile, “we’ll go with you,” as we all go outside, fingers crossed, eyes to the sky, to see if a new package has indeed arrived.