Spring, Children

Dear Kiddos,

When I was pregnant with you – both of you – I had this fantasy. It involved me, you, a warm park, birds chirruping and kids laughing in the distance while you and I examined blades of grass, gently stroked earthworms, talked about the clouds in the sky.

With you, Trombone, my due date at the end of June, I was sure I would have a kickass summer. Babies are portable! You just take them with you and share the world with them! I didn’t account for the sweat, the hours of shut blinds and my tears dropping on your huge, soft head as I tried to figure out how to get outside, what to do when I got there, how many bags I would need, when I should come home. Before I knew it, summer had ended, the rains and then the snows had started. Spring came and went while I planned my return to work and then, a year after your birth, I went with sweaty, blistered feet back to an air conditioned office while you spent the summer with a daycare provider and your wonderful grandparents, on alternate days.

With Fresco being due in April, I knew This Time For Real I would be out and enjoying the world around me with my newborn and my almost two-year-old. Oh yes! The fun and frolic we would have. We did go out, every day, without fail. Without it, I would have lost my mind even more completely. But enjoy? I tried but it is tricky to sit and have conversations about the grass and the worms when the older child is squeamish and the younger one just screams every time you sit down.

And last year, with you at almost-3, Trombone, you were a tricky child. Prone to mood shifts that seemed hormonal. Inclined to drag your feet for hours before we could go out and then tantrum when we had to come home. A late-summer aversion to water parks didn’t help. And you, Fresco, just finding your legs and running, running, running every time we left the house. We couldn’t just sit on our porch because you would leave and not look back. I spent hours dragging your big brother by the hand while I chased you chasing cats.

This is not a complainy letter, boys. This is a love letter.

In the past week, since our virus (es) ended, the sun has come out. The world has been dewy and bright and the door has been open and we have been OutSide. Maybe this will pass, but I love OutSide. The world outside our front door is small and gigantic all at once. Even if we don’t go anywhere, if I insist on sitting on the porch while you wander, at least you wander. You run off down the path to see what the neighbours are doing, you run back to report to me. You source – there is no other word for it – snails for your snail farm and carry them to me, see? Snails! Today, each of you had a snail, clutched in your palms like talismen.

After naptime – a misnomer if I ever wrote one – we take popsicles to the porch and we eat them. I bite mine, so does Fresco, but Trombone, you lick yours. If you bite, you claim it is too cold. You end up the last one with a popsicle and then your hands are covered in stickiness and you wash them in the red bucket and then it is circus time. You put on your swim goggles and your circus shoes (they are plain blue loafers) with no socks – that is important – and you jump over the broom and pretend it is a hoop. You call Fresco your clown and he agrees, his mouth drenched in purple popsicle and snail kisses.

Today you sat on the porch and ate snacks together; Goldfish crackers and rice cakes and water. When you were done, you took your small wooden chairs, carried them down the sidewalk to the grassed oval in the centre of our townhouse development. You put your chairs on the grass and sat on them, facing each other. From our porch I could see you, grinning at each other, talking about something. Like old men on a park bench, like two people anywhere.

Outside you don’t fight. Outside you have enough space to be yourselves without having the other infringe. Outside, you are not much concerned with where I am or what I am doing, you high-five the people coming back from their group run, you say hello to every passer-by, you crouch down to greet the cats, the worms, the beetles, the snails, you look after each other while I sip my tea.

This year is the one I fantasized about. There will be sprinklers and dirty feet and scraped elbows and sticky smiles. And snails. So many snails. I’m so excited.

yr mother

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