There was a birthday party in his classroom that day. There’s a picture of a cartoon pirate the size of his palm inside the goodie bag. He clutches it as we walk down the street towards our apartment.
He drops it in front of the homeless man on the trolley bench. The man’s sunburnt skin glistens under the sun.
D3 scrapes the picture off the ground. “Look! It’s an ahoy!” he says to the man. The man blinks back at him. He is there but not there. His body falls in slow motion to the left, refusing to stay upright.
On the second block, he steps in and kicks out the rocks surrounding a tree planted along the street. I pick up his hand and remind him not to do that.
(Parenting is an endless stream of corrections. As his pediatrician once told me, “You gotta mold ’em!”)
Now we pass the planter in front of Pasión del Cielo cafe where we saw a lizard last week. We pretended it was the character from his favorite show, PJ Masks. When we pass it today, he says, “Where’s Gecko?”
He climbs on the gray ledge so he can leap off it like Cat Boy.
At 8th and Brickell we wait for the orange hand to turn into the walking man. In front of Truluck’s, he ducks under the stairs’ railings and hops into the valet driveway. Then it’s more stairs and more hops in front of the Bank of America building.
Down further, we pass the lone tire that’s locked to a bike stand behind the trolley stop near the corner of 5th street.
“It’s broken!” he says. The sight of the bikeless wheel upsets him every time.
We begin our ascent up the bridge. He points to a street sign.
“What’s that mean?”
“It means there’s a turn coming soon.”
He stomps on the untamed weeds climbing through the sidewalk cracks. As the Miami River comes into view, he makes up a story about someone falling in and getting bit by a fish.
“It’s not nice to bite your friends,” he says. I agree with.
I ask him if someone was bit in his class today. He gives me a name but is unclear on the details. He blends the story with a memory of another classroom chomp. A truck thunders by, rumbling our feet as we walk on the bridge’s metal slab.
On the elevator up to our apartment, an older man in flip flops and overtanned skin greets him.
“Havana ooo na na,” my son says to him.
“What’s that?” the man responds.
“It’s Havana ooo na na,” he says. He turns away and wiggles to the song playing in his head. “I left my heart in ooo na na.”
There is something special about raising a kid in the city. He rides public transportation like a pro. Horns and cranes and traffic don’t phase him. He navigates small talk with strangers in both English and Spanish. He’s adaptable and curious and adventurous. And the city made him that way.