Yesterday morning was Riley’s first trip to the dentist. I’ve been going to the same dentist my whole life; Dr. Chuck is a good friend of my family’s. We know everyone in the office, and they were all really excited to meet the boy this time. I was due for a cleaning, and since Riley turned two last month, they also wanted him to come in for what they called a “happy visit.”
Pam, our longtime hygienist, just wanted to introduce Riley to the chair (he sat by himself for a minute but then I had to hold him), the bright light, and some of the cleaning tools so he wouldn’t be scared or freaked out the next time I bring him in. She also counted his teeth (still 16; no back molars yet!) and let him pick out a new toothbrush. He did great.
We headed home afterwards, but I decided to make a quick stop at Academy to look for something for Riley’s Halloween costume. It was a successful stop, in more ways than one. I got two things I needed for the costume, and we were greeted with an unexpected sight as we were leaving the parking lot: a fire engine! No one was around, and it was parked away from any other cars. I pulled in next to it, got Riley back out of the car, and let him walk around the big red truck.
I pointed out all of the hoses, lights, gauges, and valves as we walked around, but all Riley wanted to do was touch everything. I tried to prevent him, but he pretty much insisted.
I kept glancing back towards the entrance of Academy, hoping that we would eventually see the firemen walking back to their truck. I kept delaying Riley (which, granted, wasn’t too hard) in hopes that the guys would come back and offer to show him the inside. But, eventually, I realized we had to move on. Who knew how long they would be inside, and we couldn’t wait around all afternoon. We had already gotten up close and personal with a real fire engine, and that would have to be enough.
Then, just as I was buckling Riley into his seat in my car, two firemen came around the passenger side of the truck, where we were parked. I walked around the back of my car to let them know that my two-year-old was ecstatic that he got to touch a fire engine and that I hoped it was okay we checked it out for a bit. One of the guys responded with, “Well, would he like to climb up inside?” Ummmm, yeah he would! The super nice fireman even took a picture of my boy and I sitting in his seat.
Riley got to hold a real fireman’s helmet (those things are heavy!), and he was also shown two special buttons on the floor of the truck. Whoever is riding shotgun can step on either button to sound the truck’s horn or siren when they’re on their way out to a call. Of course Riley got down on his hands and knees and pressed both buttons, with encouragement from the fireman (whose name I should have gotten but didn’t….oops). The fireman in the driver’s seat also turned on all of the flashing lights for Riley to see. I wonder what everyone else who happened to be in the same parking lot thought, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. My boy had a blast.
I’m not even sure how the next part happened. We were climbing down from the truck, me thanking the guys profusely for making my son’s day, when somehow we were offered an actual ride in the truck. I think it was because Riley said something like, “Want to ride in the truck?” Subtle, son. I wasn’t about to turn the offer down (even though I first made sure we weren’t keeping them from anything); I’m not sure Riley would have forgiven me if I had. We were taken on a little circuit of the parking lot, and Riley was one awestruck little boy.
What a wholly unexpected, spontaneous, and truly fun experience, both for me and for Riley. I’m so glad I decided to drop by Academy instead of going straight home. And, hey, I guess Sprout has had his (or her) first ride on a fire truck, too. Cool!
To the three firemen who happened to park their truck in the Academy parking lot yesterday, thank you so much. For taking time out of your day, for being so kind and accommodating, for making a little boy’s dreams come true, and for all that you do. You are appreciated.