As the vacation miles rolled by between Georgia and North Carolina, Eli heard Harry Potter for the first time via audiobook. He loved it -- classic good vs. evil with some laughs (and deep friendships) sprinkled in.
As the final chapter came to a close, I reached into my bag and pulled out a surprise. I'd brought along a small box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans inspired by the book series. For those who don't know much about Harry Potter, there are several comical moments about these candies -- little jelly beans that include not only the usual fruit flavors but also awful flavors such as earthworm, grass, dirt, and soap. I challenged Eli to take turns with me eating one jelly bean at a time. There was a "map" of flavors on the back of the box, but many of the pleasant flavors looked identical to the rotten ones. We agreed that when it was our turn, we'd accept whatever bean rolled out next and take a full bite.
Picture a mama and a 6.5 year-old rolling down Interstate 95 at sunset, passing the little rattling box back and forth, each warily inspecting the next bean before taking a hopeful bite -- a very strange (yet kid-friendly) version of Russian roulette. "Lemon!" we'd crow. Or "It's just orange this time!" I'm only sorry that we were separated front seat and back seat so I couldn't get a clear look at Little Guy's face when tasting the bad ones. I'd hear a sputtering cough followed by a huge guffaw as Eli scrambled to roll down the window. In a rush of swirling hot air, yet one more sticky, half-chewed piece of candy was ejected to the asphalt. (With my awful jelly beans -- and, trust me, some were simply disgusting -- I opened my window to spit them like watermelon seeds that vanished behind us instantly at 70 MPH. "Oh, Mama! That's cool!") Finally, the box now empty, we stopped at a rest stop so Eli could brush teeth and put on jammies. When I opened his car door, I found several wads of slimy beans that didn't make it out his window -- which just made us laugh like banshees all over again.
There are so many times as an adult that you have to do the hard thing, be the mature grown-up. I'm so grateful for the times when parenting also means you get to be downright silly.