Our lives at home occupy tiny fragments of each workday. Mornings fill with the rush of getting ready to work, and in the evenings we get ready for mornings. On the weekends, my absences are shorter. Late afternoon is either a nap or the "few minutes" of remote-access work needed to silence the worry. H and I leave the house for shopping or errands, but other than the few dozen yards from the parking lot, we are never outside together in the sun. On weekends, we say "she played outside at school yesterday" or "she'll play outside again tomorrow." H seems happy enough. "No school no work," she says with a smile.
Today started a four-day weekend, with Christmas too. If we can ever achieve the Disney version of a child's hoped-for weekend, the time and need is now. We decide to go to the park. She rides her bike while I trot behind, ready to give her a push when she loses momentum. She hasn't yet learned to pedal harder up the inclines.
I push her on the swing for a few minutes while H shrieks with laughter and yells to go higher. Then she gets quiet, watching her shadow as she swings back and forth over the sand. I pretend I wasn't reaching for my iPhone when another boy, her size, comes up to swing next to her. The other mom and I chat briefly, before she pulls out her own iPhone and starts texting while she pushes her boy. She takes a phone call and goes to get something out of her car. "Stay here," she tells him, but after a few minutes, he gets bored and hops off the swing. He makes a few aimless circles, looking for her, before finding a jungle gym to climb. I keep a worried eye on him until I see her return. She runs and plays with him. I wait to check my email until after they leave. H swings for a long time, then runs to climb the rock wall.
An older girl in my field of vision starts to make noise. She's shouting at one of the ladies sitting on the benches. It takes a minute to realize the dark-haired gal in the same yoga pants and warmup jacket as the other moms is actually a nanny. She's watching a very small boy who keeps wandering into the path of much larger children. The girl yells louder for Laura, the nanny and then, to catch her attention, pronounces it the Spanish way, rolling her "r" so much that it sounds like she's saying Lola. "I can't watch right now, your brother is going to far." Her accent is slight. The girl keeps yelling after Laura walks away: "Look at me," she says, over and over.
I look to my own girl, and she is climbing her way through a difficult part of the big-kid playground, a line of older children piling up behind her. She is concentrating hard, and each time she lets go of one bar her face flashes with panic until her waving hand meets the new bar. When she makes it through, she smiles a little bit, but doesn't make any show of celebrating her triumph. We stay until nearly dark.
On the ride home, she's figured something out about the bicycle, and takes off so quickly that I have to run after her. She goes so fast that she overshoots the turn back home and gets stuck trying to turn herself around. When I get her free of the bush, she takes off again.
That, she celebrates.