Perfect afternoon

I came back from a ministers’ retreat Thursday afternoon feeling tender, especially toward my family. I hadn’t seen Mookie since Tuesday morning, and when I picked her up, a little bit early, she did the usual–greeting me as if it were no big deal–and then, a couple of minutes later, climbed into my lap and practically sang with delight. I said, “Let’s have a special evening. What should we do together?” She said “Play!” and quickly amended it to “Play on the structure!”

So out we went to the schoolyard climbing structure (I’m not clear when, or why, they stopped being called jungle gyms), where my participation was clearly the best thing since crustless bread. We went down the slide with Mookie facing me on my lap, a sliding hug. We went down it with three kids piled on my lap–after that, Mookie became a barker, “Hey everyone, come slide down on my mom’s lap!” I lifted one girl after another onto the high bar, and realized for the first time that Mookie is not only one of the shortest kids in her class, she’s got to be the lightest. (Oof. She doesn’t know how lucky she is–if she were as solidly built as most kids, I’d have stopped giving her piggyback rides a long time ago.) We chased pigeons. Mookie taught me how to “carve rocks,” which involves getting a sharp wood chip and digging sand and pebbles out of the craters of the playground boulders.

Finally even Mookie seemed ready to move on, and we headed toward the store and home, but on the way we circled around Bernal Hill and Mookie asked to hike on it. It was easy to say yes (why is it frequently so hard?). We took a long walk, up and down and around and down and up again, marveling at the view of our gorgeous city (:Mama) and throwing rocks ahead to decide which way to go next (:Mookie). Even with me chugging as fast as I could, she kept getting way ahead of me. At one point I had no idea where she was and bellowed her name, when suddenly there she was, waving her arms, two rises ahead–how did she move so fast?–this wonderchild silhouetted against the sun.

And in the car, after briefly threatening to melt down because we didn’t have an audiobook, she assented to Free to Be . . . You and Me and brought tears to her mama’s eyes by singing gently along with the title song.

It was a lovely, spacious afternoon. Can I feel this expansive on a weekday morning, instead of fretting over whether she’ll get to school before the bell, or over the to-dos that await me at work? We’ll see in a few hours.

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