We had our first glimpses of spring this past week. Sixty degree weather and SUN! Each year, I am amazed by the transformation of the mood of the town, the workplace, and my home. No longer are we confined to the house; we can venture outside, and in my house, we venture outside from sun up to sun down. Riley’s warm-weather agenda includes two things: park and pool. The slightest mention of either of the two P words is a binding promise, locking you in to the activity for at least the next twenty-four hours. She will not forget. Mention to her at lunchtime that you will be going to the park tomorrow, and without fail, she will wake up, sit up, turn her head to you, and exclaim, “Park!” Last year, knowing that our time at the pool would be limited with the new baby, I bought her a Nemo swimming pool with all of the bells and whistles. At 8:00 a.m. the next morning, I awoke to a wide-eyed “Pool!” By 8:30, I had blown the whole thing up, and she was in her bathing suit happily splashing.
Last year at the age of two and a half, she insisted that she was capable of jumping off of the diving boards at the pool. “Me, me,” she insisted, and she patted her chest and pointed to the diving board, where a hoard of teenage boys were having a very unsafe-looking game of who can make the biggest splash. She would have joined with enthusiasm if I had let her.
During what I call her dark period (the terrible twos), the pool was the only place to go for relief from the grumps. Not only did she get to do what she loves, swim, but she also, I’m sad to say, was quite cheery around the lifeguards. To my horror, she would flash her largest, picture-perfect smile at the lifeguards as they made their rounds around our section. I am confident that just as I am able to regain a full eight hours of sleep at night it will again be interrupted by 5:00 a.m. swim practices. Perhaps that will curb late-night dates?
Come 5:00 a.m. practices or not, I love the way the water brings out Riley’s true fun-loving nature. At times, it has allowed her to be herself when she normally would not. Riley’s language development was delayed. She understood words but wasn’t able to verbalize them. This caused her to take time to trust a new person enough to express herself. But not in the water. Shortly after our trip to the children’s museum (we were ambitious!), Lesley and I took the girls to a local lake for some fun in the sun and swimming. Seeing the water, Riley was instantly at ease. She interacted with Story (who is full of words!) and played games with Lesley. We splashed, laughed, and played all afternoon. Riley had fun at the children’s museum, but she really bonded with our new friends at the lake.
Story was also in her element. While our last trip had been busy and noisy, not allowing for elaborate story lines, the slower pace at the lake allowed for an in-depth developed plot. While Lesley was busy collecting shells and crushing sand castles with Riley, I was named King Kapunka, Sea Turtle King of the Ocean. I cannot tell you the rest of my role as King Kapunka, but I did have a very stylish seaweed crown, which may or may not have made its way into my car.
This year we look forward to more parks, pools, and lakes. Riley’s active nature is mirrored in her baby sister, who squeals in delight at each of the new outdoor activities we tried this week. From what I can tell, bike-versus-stroller races will be a big hit this year. And if bath time is any indication, Maddie will have no trouble keeping up in the water.