The sun was shining over the bright, buzzy spring day as afternoon crept slowly toward evening. Not willing to resign for the night behind a pillow fortress of moutains, he lit the sky a perfect sky blue. Birds sang in the trees, the mesquite almost audibly grew more neon green branches, and the faces of my babies begged to be kissed by late day sunshine.
Bellies full of cheese pizza and English muffins with pb&j, we loaded into the big red wagon. I pulled them down one street and up the next, listening as Luca told stories about her day and Rohan animatedly yelled hi to neighbors and bounced up and down in his seat calling out, "DODDIE!!! DODDIE!!! HI DODDIE!!" as every single neighborhood dog expressed displeasure at us and our wagon. As we neared the end of one particular street, Luca started to wiggle a little in her seat at the sight of sprinklers splashing cool puddles onto the sidewalk. Rohan saw it too, and before I knew it I was being urged forward to choruses of "Water! Water Mommy!!! (giggles) Water! Look! It's WATER!!!!"
Nonchalantly, I slowed my gait just a bit to draw out the process and their anticipation. And then, slowly and deliberately I put on my Very Concerned voice and said to my little water-lovers, "Oh, I see the water. We must be very, very careful. We wouldn't want to get wet now, would we?"
Nothing but giggles from the monkeys in the wagon.
When we had drawn so close that we could smell the wet pavement and the newly shorn grass, I pretended not to notice that the wagon was veering to the right, just under a spray of cold mist.
More giggles. And then, a squeal of delight.
"Oh we wouldn't want that water," I said, dragging them into a bigger spray while emphasizing the word, "to get you, now would we??"
Eager laughter, hands raised above their heads. His face tipped up and his tongue out, waiting for a few drops to land. Her eyes bright, flashing with joy.
At the park, Luca immediately slipped off her sandals and took off through the grass, running up the green slides. Her brother trailed her, screeching, "Yook, MAMA!" as he tried to follow Luca up the slide and fell onto his belly with a thud. They made games of collecting pine cones and loading them into the wagon, of taking turns sitting at the bottom of the slide while the other tore down it as fast as possible, knocking over their sibling like a bowling pin. They stood still, side by blonde side, watching a mom and her two older kids traverse the park and circle the playground and then keep walking.
Eventually, Rohan padded in bare feet over to the swingset, throwing his body across a swing and pushing off with his toes, his fingers trailinig the dirt below. He'd swing back and forth like this a few times, a little capsized toddler floating on a sea of afternoon sunshine. And then he would stand and hold the swing, looking at me with those baby blues and saying, "Twing, Mommy?"
Eventually, that was where we all landed, me pushing Rohan as Luca collected more pine cones. I turned him around in the seat so we faced west, where we could watch the sun paint the sky neon pink and apricot and plum. Luca came up beside us, climbing into the swing without assistance. "Push?" I offered, and she beamed up at me. "I know how to swing by myself now."
No. No way. You're a baby still. You need my help. You need my hand, constant and sure and strong, pushing into the small of your back and helping you sail into the clouds. You need to be able to close your eyes and be a butterfly. You can't pump your legs that hard. You can't reach your toes to the ground to push off yet. You will still giggle and beg me to push you higher and faster. You still need me, right? You're still my baby, aren't you?
But all I said: "Oh."
And swing alone she did, her pointed toes stretching toward the earth, her glowing face pointing toward the heavens. Yin and yang. Young, yet older.. I watched and smiled, a lump burning down my throat.
We made our way home, the wagon pulling more slowly behind me as Luca explained why some cactus have no thorns and Rohan dragged a shoe over the side of the wagon, trying to reach the sidewalk. We stopped to meet the neighbor's new Grandson. We admired a spider web by the front door. We decided that chocolate milk was the perfect post-nap snack. We waited for Daddy to get home, warm from outdoor adventures.