A Boring Vacation
“I don’t want to stay here” Jimmy whispered to his mother at the breakfast table.
His mother ignored him and continued to butter her toast.
Jimmy looked at his father who was hidden behind his newspaper, but he was unable to catch his attention. He went back to eating his bowl of cornflakes.
“So Jimmy, would you like to come for a walk with me after your mum and dad have left?” his grandfather asked.
This time, Jimmy pretended to ignore him, but only until he got a sharp kick from his mother under the table.
“I’d rather do my homework,” he said without looking up from his breakfast.
A few minutes later, Jimmy stood with his parents as they were getting ready to get into their car and head back home. His mother took him aside and sat down on her knees as she looked into her son’s eyes. “Jimmy, we spoke about this. It’s only for two weeks. Your father will be out of town and I will be at work. There will be no one to take care of you while you are at home. Granny and grandpa have been kind enough to offer to look after you. You agreed to this arrangement. Why are you fighting it now?”
Tears welled up in little Jimmy’s eyes “I don’t like it here mom. It’s out in the wilderness. The nearest mall is 45 minutes away. There are no video games and worst of all, no internet.”
His mother wanted to respond but his father walked over, just then.
“You’ll be fine, won’t you Champ?” he asked, ruffling Jimmy’s hair, the way he always did.
“Yes dad,” Jimmy said, fighting back tears and trying to put on a smile.
His father bent over and wrapped him in a bear hug.
Minutes later, Jimmy was standing on the porch of his grandparent’s house, looking at the cloud of smoke left behind by his father’s car.
The next few days were a blur. Jimmy woke early, gobbled up his breakfast, and ran back into his room before his grandparents could ask him anything. He stayed in there the whole day and came out only during mealtimes, only to return back swiftly.
“Jimmy! Jimmy!” he heard someone call in the middle of the night. Jimmy got up, but he was too dazed to get out of bed.
He heard his door creak open and his grandfather’s head peak through.
“Awake?” the older man asked.
“No” Jimmy replied, not hiding his irritation.
“Well wake up then. We’re going bird-watching. I’ll see you down in ten minutes.”
He had left the room before Jimmy had a chance to bombard him with questions.
The old man must be out of his head, Jimmy thought. He got out of bed and got dressed anyway. It was still dark when Jimmy looked out of his bedroom window.
“What does he think we will be able to watch in this pitch-black darkness” he wondered.
An hour later, Jimmy and his grandfather were sitting on tall stools surrounded by waist-high grass. His grandfather was setting a pair of binoculars. He passed them to Jimmy and asked him to observe the sky above them. The sun was just rising and the sky was a beautiful pinkish-orange. There wasn’t a bird in sight, but Jimmy kept the binoculars trained to where his grandfather pointed.
A few moments later, he could hear a distinct crackling above. It sounded as if a hundred geese were communicating at the same time. Within moments, the sky was filled with migratory birds flying in an inverted V pattern. There were flocks and flocks of them and not a single one of them broke file. They flew together, their arms flapping in unison as if they were performing a well-choreographed dance sequence.
A sigh escaped Jimmy’s lips. He had never seen anything so beautiful before. But it was his grandfather who had the broadest grin.
“Can we go again tomorrow?” Jimmy asked his grandfather at dinner that night.
“ We can, but I don’t know if they will come. They don’t come every day.”
“Then how did you know they will come today?”
His grandfather didn’t respond.
“He’s been going there every day to note their pattern of arrival,” his grandmother said, a few moments later “he wanted you to see something beautiful.”
Jimmy’s eyes filled with tears again. While he had been sulking in his room, his grandfather had been waking up early every morning and waiting patiently to observe the pattern of the migratory birds.
“Grandpa, grandmom, thank you,” Jimmy said, his voice heavy with emotion. “I love you.”
From then on, Jimmy waited for his summer holidays eagerly every year. It was the only time he got to go bird-watching with his grandfather.