After the long, cold winter, getting to go to the park this week with Emily has been a blessing. Finally, the wind doesn’t have the harsh chill, and the dirty snow piles are mostly gone. The play equipment at the park had been hosed down from the winter sludge, and all was in good shape when we arrived.
Yesterday, the sun was warm on our heads in the mid-50 temperatures. Up here in Wisconsin, that is a virtual heat wave. Emily exhausted herself running and sliding and swinging and spinning on the merry-go-round. Today we went back to the park, as I have vowed that, unless there is intolerable weather, we are getting out to the park daily.
There were more clouds today when we went, and the wind was not quite as warm, but the air was fresh and invigorating. Emily wore a hat against the chilly breeze which sent last year’s leaves flying every so often. Hardly any children were there today. A grandfather watched his grandson run around, and then a dad arrived with two little boys on pedal bikes. Em and I sat on the swings in a leisurely fashion. Or, I should say, I sat on the swing and Em flopped on her tummy on the swing next to me, going back and forth, back and forth, her thoughts in some far away place.
My own thoughts swirled like the old leaves in the wind. Our second youngest, Will, is ready for college in August. Wasn’t I just at the park with him? Where did all the time go? Our baby, Emily, will be five in July at her next birthday. She’s looking taller and lankier all the time and asks questions about “habitats” for animals (yes, she uses that word), about “migration”, “hibernation” and how a butterfly uses his “proboscis” to suck nectar from flowers. She watches science DVD’s for children and has a keen interest in anything in nature. I thought about the challenge of educating yet another child in this world that seems to have gone mad. One day at a time, one step at a time, one hour at a time, Ingrid.
Em’s ready for reading instruction, as she is already trying to teach herself. She narrated a story to her dad so he could write it down for her. I thought about how each child is unique in interests and gifting. It is fascinating to watch yet another child-person unfold.
Em does not have another child to play with at home normally, but as we were swinging aimlessly, a little girl in a white Hello Kitty hat arrived with her daddy. Emily jumped off the swing and went over to meet her. The darling child liked my daughter, and they ran around in the wind, arms out, soaring high over the park as airplanes in their imaginations. They played hide and seek under the slides and then played tag, seemingly never stopping in their running.
The sun finally went under completely and the wind suddenly felt downright cold. Emily ran over to her little friend and threw her arms around her for a good-bye hug. The dad’s face broke out in a smile, as did mine, at the two little girls, so briefly enjoying a few minutes of childhood together and parting in cheery goodwill.
As we drove away, the bare branches of the trees bent in the wind, waving their own good-byes.