After my last self-pitying blog post, I spent the day playing with Sophie, and I have to admit: I loved my day.
There may not be a clear bright line separating taking care of Sophie from taking care of myself.
After a fun morning at home with the model-trains, we went to the park, where Sophie pulled her pull-along ducks adorably, befriended kids with good parents, played catch, giggled a lot, and showed off her ability to climb on frightening playground equipment while simultaneously clutching a marble.
Then we went to the coffee-shop, where I got tea (maybe my biggest problem lately is that we’re out of my favorite tea flavors at home) and Sophie got milk, and after splitting a croissant, Sophie decided that we also needed to split an apple strudel, but only if she could eat all the whipped-cream. We live in the kind of town where people are charmed by toddlers at coffee-shops — and I myself am charmed by my own toddler at a coffee shop, sweetly piling her whipped-cream on her spoon, laughing with the pleasure of it all. Everyone chatted with Sophie, who chatted with the sparrows. I realized that I truly love going out to coffee with my twenty-three-month-old. There’s not many people whom I’d rather go out to coffee with.
Lunch was tricky, because I cooked sesame-noodles which she rejected, and that set us up for a late nap.
But during her nap I productively graded, and after her nap, when she was sobbing and refusing to eat or drink, we both decided it was time to go for a walk.
Walking with a toddler is not like walking with an adult. It’s not just that it’s slower. It’s also more tactile, more observant, and oddly more sociable. Sophie wants to touch the bottle-brush tree, check the progress of our sunflowers, and check whether the plastic easter-egg suspended thirty feet up in the neighbor’s tree is still there. She discovered that easter egg last week, and we have been checking on it every other day since then. We stopped at one neighbor’s to greet his dogs, and at another neighbor’s to wish a 12-year-old a happy birthday, and ended up having good conversations at both places. Walking with Sophie means that it may take 45-minutes to walk one block and it will be worth it.
Then Sophie decided that her baby-doll wanted a jamba-juice smoothie. To me, this shows remarkable empathy (wanting to feed her doll), remarkable memory (she had that particular doll with her last week, when I took her to jamba juice), and remarkable good taste, too. Hmm, fresh fruit and good nutrition for my baby? Not a tough decision. So we got the smoothie, and on the way home we stopped at the verizon store because I was finally eligible for a new phone.
Now I know, it’s dangerous to take a child into an electronics store when one actually wants to shop for electronics — but I didn’t have much choice, I needed a new phone, and it turns out that Sophie is fascinated by phones. She attempted to touch every phone on display. She asked so sweetly for a Verizon helium balloon that she got one. She admired the posters, because they featured dogs and balls as well as telephones. She admired the seats in the store, which were fun to scramble on. It took 45 minutes to select a new phone and go through all the paperwork (Sophie helped by signing the credit-card touch-pad as often as she could), and Sophie certainly made that 45 minutes more challenging, but also more fun. What would have been a banal errand turned into an adventure. At one point, I even got to leap off a leather-couch in order to retrieve Soph’s lost helium balloon.
So I don’t have all that much to complain about. I had hoped to get to the supermarket today, too, but I knew enough not to push Sophie’s patience after the verizon store. So instead, I made one of those dinners that you make when you think there’s nothing left in the house to cook. It turned out to be zucchini-tomato-black bean saute on rice, and it was delicious.
Then Sophie invented new games in her play-tunnel, new ways to stack her legos, and a new way to postpone bedtime by raspberrying my neck until I couldn’t stop laughing.
Objectively, my day involved two trivial outings, outings that would not have filled a day if it were me alone, or me with another adult. But being with Sophie meant that the day involved more spontaneous conversations with semi-strangers, more balls, balloons, and marbles; more raspberry-kisses; more joy.