It is getting dark outside. From the couch I can see streaks of orange and pink clouds filing through the blinds that Sophiapea loves to pull back endlessly. She clambers up onto the couch, and then carefully crawls up onto the back of the couch, extends one plump little foot to the window sill, her toes spread wide. I watch, cringing a little and ready to leap to the rescue, but resigned. She will climb.
We are at a splash park. Water-drops glisten in the breeze, blowing rainbows in the air. The tradewinds gust and blow the sprinklers waterdrops against my face. I watch Sophia as she ventures beneath the streams of water. Timid at first. Running back to press her soaking wet head against my legs when the wind blows water against her face too. She becomes braver though, right before my eyes. The flow of the sprinklers ebbs, and she splashes in a puddle. When the sprinklers come back on, she runs back to be held, but just seconds later she squirms to be set down, and toddles away from me, towards the water. She picks her feet up carefully, tiny heels spread wide in the awkward precariousness of a child just learning to walk and run. She leans her face into the sprinkler and looks back at me, misty water on her eyelashes, a big grin crinkling her dimples and nose. She will play.
We are walking down the street to the park. Sophia walks right beside me, her pace unsteady. She knows that we are heading to the park and tries to walk faster, faster, faster, until she very nearly loses her balance. I catch her arms and swing her back to her feet, holding her soft little hand snugly in mine. We walk slowly for a while. She cranes her neck to watch each car go past on the road, curiousity plain on every feature of her face. A dog barks and she presses her face against the fence, trying to see it better. A huge leaf on the sidewalk begs to be picked up and she pauses, crouching to carefully retrieve it. “Come, Sophia.” I say. “We’re going to the park. Can you say park?” She grins up at me, and talks some mostly unintelligible baby babble, but she says something that sounds very like ‘park’, and she says it again when I urge her. Her gaze has fixed on the white gate that surrounds the tiny park. She talks some more, her index finger carefully extended and pointing at the park. When we walk through the gate and I push it closed behind us, Sophia runs to the slide, half-squealing, half-giggling. She climbs up it, slipping and sliding in her shoes, only to slide back down when her foot slips near the top. It is a new game for her. She climbs, climbs, climbs, and slips. Then she slides down the slide backwards, on her tummy, laughs at the bottom, and does it all over again.
In the afternoon sweet Sofi becomes slightly less sweet. She is tired, but she will not rest her weary eyes again until bedtime. She follows me around the house, clinging to my leg and making annoyed whining sounds. All I need to do is finish loading the dishwasher, I tell her. It really won’t take too long. I promise. I implore her to just play for a tiny bit longer. She lifts her arms to me, and stands on her tippy-toes, trying to levitate into my arms. Those big brown eyes just melt my heart. Her tiny face looks so distressed, her eyes big and shiny with unshed tears. I can’t do it. I scoop her up into my arms and balance her on one hip while I finish loading the dishwasher. Minutes later, we are in her playroom, sitting on the beanbags against the wall. Sophia is playing with a book, and I take it from her to read it. When I start reading she comes over and sits down in front of me, doing a weird scoot on the floor. When I pull her up onto my lap, she settles back against my chest with a contented sigh. I read.