Just after Zoe’s 2nd birthday, Daniel and I finally bit the bullet and had a fence installed around the pool in our backyard. After nearly nineteen months in this house we decided it was time. Zoe is one active little girl and we weren’t able to take full advantage of having such a lovely and large yard because we were constantly in fear of her running or falling straight into the pool. Zoe had grown tall enough to reach the doorknob and the thought of our daughter being in danger when there was something we could do about it was almost too much to bear for any longer than we already had. So we said goodbye to $2200 and have not regretted it once.
In the last month we enjoyed many evenings as a family. Nothing wears out a toddler better than running around like a wild child, playing with her dogs and breathing in some fresh air. Ahem. Well, two out of three isn’t bad…
We had some uncharacteristically lovely weather in the last month: moderate temperatures, slight breezes. Each night after dinner, we’d open the backdoor and Zoe would go running with her arms stretched out to her sides like she was flying. The dogs would follow quickly behind; times like these are what they have been eagerly waiting for since we brought the little monkey home. I would follow after them, calling out to all of them to play nice and Daniel would bring Finnegan’s bouncer out into the middle of the yard so he could see all the action. Daniel and I pulled a couple chairs off the patio and placed them on either side of our son so we could sit and watch Zoe run and play, but we never stayed seated for long.
Seeing Zoe have so much fun was infectious. We ran, chased, danced, and sang with her. We blew bubbles, spinned her in the air and Daniel gave her piggyback rides. She would explore: touching the trees, plants and flowers. She would bring me the occasional snail, but get nervous if a fly or bee buzzed too close to her. Most nights I would snap pictures, either with my iPhone or camera. Daniel would make Zoe swords from palm fronds. She would swish her “sword”, cutting through the sky one moment, singing “Everybody was Kung Fu fighting! Ya! Ya!” And then it would become her magic wand. Daniel taught her to say, “Bipitty Bobbity Boo!” as she pointed it at the dogs, me, her little brother.
Finnegan would just take it all in from his seat. Content to watch his parents and sister play. I’d catch him smiling at the sky and wonder what it was he saw through his big, inquisitive eyes. Where I see his sister as this entertainer, I see in him a thoughtful, old soul. But I could be completely wrong. He could be biding his time, waiting for the day when his Daddy builds him a sword so he can join in the adventure.
The dogs usually grow tired of all the activity fairly quickly. It’s hard work keeping up with a toddler, I know. Eventually they come back to the chairs we have set up so they can get some scratches behind their ears, shelter from the wild child, and maybe even to guard the little boy they have both grown to adore in the last six months.
Me? When I’m not playing with Zoe, I’m taking it all in. Daniel and I have learned to take shifts until Miss Independent decides it’s time for her to explore on her own. I enjoy sitting and watching Daniel play with our daughter. Their mutual love and admiration for each other is easy to see, to feel. When it’s my turn to play, I can’t help but glance over at my boys by the chairs. I imagine they are communicating – that they share some secret language that only fathers and sons that share a birthday can have. It is true what everyone has said since Finnegan was born, I see so much of Daniel in him now… his eyes, his smile, his thoughtful and serious expressions.
The weather has quickly turned hot. Finally, we are experiencing the summer we’ve been bracing ourselves for… the summer we were happy to get a brief reprieve from. We haven’t had one of our “Family Evening’s” outside for a few days and I miss it. But I am so happy to have those memories and the photos I took. They will tide me over until the weather cools again. And then I imagine I will miss the activities I’ve thought up for us to do as we try to beat the heat and entertain our little monkey.
The other night, as Daniel and I sat in our chairs with Finnegan and Zoe ran around, I had this overwhelming feeling of happiness. I remember thinking that these are the moments that I want to remember always. These are the days that I hope my children will remember, too. It was a good feeling to be able to sit back and know without any doubt that this is the life I always wanted and to get to appreciate every single moment as it unfolded. There are goals I still want to accomplish, places I want to get to visit, explore and live… but at that moment there was no place else I would have rather been. I’m pretty sure I sighed with that contentment, that knowledge. Life is good. No, life is incredible.