Sometimes I dread solo time with my daughter. She’s the cutest little popple on the planet, but her vocabulary consists of “yeah,” “bye,” and “hi,” so she’s not exactly the best conversation partner. And she’s still a little closer to baby than toddler as far as parental proximity is concerned. If I venture more than a few feet away, I’m warned that I’ve gone too far with urgent and repeated “mah(s)?!” As much as I worship her button nose, teddy bear tummy, and rosy cheeks (oh, and let’s not forget the new arrival of pigtails), she can kinda be a drag sometimes, especially when I feel like doing any of the following:
1. Eating without a tiny vulture wreaking havoc with my food.
2. Gardening without a tiny mole digging up my flowers.
3. Completing a crossword puzzle (yes, I enjoy a casual crossword puzzle or two) without a little graffiti artist scribbling out the clue to 23 down.
4. Using the bathroom without a little voyeur creeping in to share the experience.
5. Doing the laundry without a little puppy grabbing clean clothes from the pile and taking off with wild, unhinged laughter.
6. Putting away dishes without a little juggler grabbing the wineglasses to showcase her disdain for danger.
7. Selecting jewelry without a little magpie taking off with the best and brightest (and losing them forever in the nubby bedroom rug; farewell diamond earring given to me to commemorate the birth of my first child).
8. Showering without the lurking fear that a little makeup artist has discovered the magic made between ridiculously expensive (but oh-so-worth-it) wallpaper and red lipstick.
9. Tidying up the Legos without a little bulldozer plowing through the cars, blocks, and farm animals, thus rendering the orderly Legos null and void.
10. Zoning out in front of the computer without a little angel reminding me what a distant, shitty, unengaged parent I am.
However, today after dropping my son off at school, my daughter and I spent the morning outside—spring, spring, glorious spring. I think parents of small children must rejoice more than most when the snow melts, and we’re able to release our winter-bound offspring back into the wild.
After an abortive attempt to deadhead some pansies (never deadhead in front of a toddler—to do so is to invite years of floral massacre), I grabbed an uprooted grape hyacinth from my daughter, and led the little flower-killer to a secure, barren location. You win little girl. Do with me what you will.
We spent the next hour doing absolutely nothing. I lounged in the grass, soaking in the sun, the type of glow that breaks through the chill of April to warm you all the way through, the type of sunshine that wraps you in its rays and makes you think about taking off your sweater (without really needing to). My daughter backed herself into my lap (I find her proprietary attitude toward my body ridiculously endearing, as if I’m her own portable folding chair), and we watched the birds and the intermittent cars. We ran our fingers through the grass, and found pinecones and prickly twigs and stones. Aside from the occasional interrogatory grunt from my daughter and my subsequent explanations (“crow,” “squirrel,” “red truck”), we were quiet.
My daughter’s baby sweetness blended into the spring morning. Her wispy brown waves, her heartbreaking snuggle-ability, her velvety skin, her little bird voice. She’s a second child, and I realized with a pang how little alone time I’ve spent with her throughout her 22 months of life. I curled my arm around her small soft body, and didn’t regret for a second that I wasn’t staring with glazed eyes at the sale section of J.Crew “knits and tees,” debating between the poppy or the heather gray sand-colored embroidered top.