It feels like much of the country is suffering through flooding and tornadoes and never-ending winters, and here we are in Arizona, soaking up the long twilights wrapped in undeniably amazing weather. We're spending hours outside on the weekends, the kids smelling of sunblock and the outdoors, their scalps milky sweet as they slip into a post-play pool nap with cheeks still rosy.
This past weekend I joined them in the kiddie pool, Rohan filling each drink holder on the pool with water, then starting over again once he'd realized that while he filled the second one the first had drained. Luca choreographed the whole scene, deciding which toys belonged in which side of the pool. On the side with the inflated seat I relaxed, letting my shoulders be kissed by the warm sun. She asked me to fill buckets and watering cans, gingerly leaning down to Rohan and offering him a mini-basketball and a big blue plastic bucket to play with on the side of the pool with the slide. They climbed to the top of that inflatable slide and dove feet or butt first into the water, screaming and giggling and making me wish every day was Saturday.
And then they improvised, taking advantage of the big blanket that was drying in the sun, which I'd draped over 3 chairs to keep it from dragging in the grass. Luca tucked beach towels under it and urged her brother to join her. "Rohan, c'mon buddy! You can come lie down by me, buddy! It's a fort, but an OUTSIDEDOOR fort!"
Of course I said yes. And of course they giggled and co-conspired and removed every item from the train table in his room and ended up with half of them in bed with them. But a few mintues later, both kids were asleep, he on the lower bunk and she on the upper. I went in for one last check when silence had descended on the house and found myself standing in the doorway, not wanting to intrude on their moment together, sleeping in tandem in separate bunks, together.
Tonight we pulled the wagon out of the backyard and Sleeping Beauty walked beside it as I pulled The Prince along in his seat. They each had a lollipop, his yellow and hers orange, though the lollipops switched from one sticky set of hands to another more times than I could count before each of them was cracked into what seemed like a million tiny crystals and devoured. Sleeping Beauty ran and skipped ahead of the wagon, telling us she was The Leader, then stopped and turned to me. "Mama!" she exclaimed, holding on hand over her chest, "When I run, my heart thumps harder and I can feel it." The process of discovery for little kids never ceases to amaze me.
At the end of the walk, I got them out of the wagon and out of their shoes, and they ran barefoot through a park by our house. Neighbors were there with their respective dogs, all of them running off leash and eager to check out the kids (and, no doubt, try to find the lollipops they could still smell). After greeting the puppies, we raced from one end of the park to the other and back again. Just as the dogs and their owners were leaving, one extra curious dog came running over to Rohan, leaping up and kissing his face. Horrified, his owner yelled frantically for the dog to get down. "Don't worry," I told her, since it was clear the dog's only intention was to give kisses, "he is loving this!"
She stopped for a moment and talked to the kids, then snapped a leash on the dog's collar and wished us a good night. Rohan, still giggling and brimming with excitement at his new doggie friend, bounced on his feet, waved one hand excitedly, and yelled to the dog, "Bye bye, goggie!!! I love you! I love you, goggie! Bye! I love you!"
And then, as the woman covered her heart with one hand to indicate how endearing she thought it was, he took his sister's hand in his and they ran across the grass barefoot, into the dusk.