THURSDAY, April 22 – An ingenious plan, if I do say so myself and worked it out down to the last detail. It started with a small act of vandalism. When I took the dog out, I let the air out of one of Sander’s tires. Then, I emailed the school informing those concerned of the conspiracy and which the main figures – Sander and Eamonn – are still unaware of.
An ordinary morning, with the familiar rush at quarter past eight: looking for the P.E. stuff, packing the lunches, and leaving the house, on the double. Then Sander discovers to his horror that he has a flat tire. Okay, jump in and I’ll give you a lift. Bingo! All three of us in the car heading for school. Right on time. Quick kiss, see you this afternoon, and the car door swings open.
‘Hey, guys, wait a minute. Close the door.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, I have another idea. We’re not going to school today. We’re going to spend the day at the Apenheul Zoo. Let’s go see some monkeys!’
Astonishment, silence, no resistance from the back of the car. The youngest has a big grin plastered all over his face. Whatever. Playing hooky is playing hooky. ‘Any time, Papa,’ he said once when I came to pick him up early.
But the oldest isn’t so sure. ‘We can’t do this, Papa. The whole school is going to be mad at us. This is going too far.’ Relax, Sander, the school already knows. It’s beginning to dawn… ‘Did you let the air out of my tire?’ I can’t help laughing. Sander shakes his head.
So we’re on our way! It had been Jennifer’s idea, for the fall vacation in October. But the visit to the monkey zoo had been postponed because that was the week Elsa had arrived from Spain. Jenn loved the idea of a zoo with nothing but apes of all sorts and sizes. ‘When you get right down to it, we’re all monkeys.’
The accident had happened on this day, exactly six months ago. At first I just wanted to let it pass: today isn’t really any different from yesterday or tomorrow: but, in the end, I decided to mark the occasion by taking the day off and doing something with the boys. In the car on the way to Apeldoorn, we talked briefly about The Six-Month Moment. We didn’t attach great significance to the occasion but focused on the fact that we were together, enjoying the zoo. And, of course, we were aware of how much Mom would have loved to be there with us.
We got back in good time. Eamonn put on the Avatar DVD – a good long one, while Sander and I bought flowers and walked to the crosswalk. We laid the flowers near the tree and shortly afterwards walked back home. It’s rotten, but life goes on. Tomorrow everything will be normal again.