Thursday, September 11, 2014

This Season in Girls: Summer's End

Here we are on the verge of fall weather, holding onto those last few days of warmer weather with our windows open all day and all night. What a summer we had, in a good way! We planted our garden, had VBS, swim lessons, our three weeks in Georgia, Ohio, and Michigan, home again, breaking my toe, exterior house painting, visit from cousins, one week in St. Louis, and then the last week before we started school time. I felt like we barely had time at home to enjoy it being summertime. I do wonder if we need to do less next summer.

So, on Monday afternoon at the end of quiet time, I pulled the chicken out of the freezer, and realized that I had until the chicken thawed to do something with the kids. I don't normally spend the four o'clock hour playing, but I had an hour to kill and M was not due home until 5. My toe has been fine with walking and some light jogging and I knew it was long past due for me to take the girls out on their bikes...

G (5) Photo by Paul Hasser.
I have never seen them clean up so fast as when I ask if they want to go for a bike ride. We get all ready, and when I tell F (22 months) that we were going for a walk, she replies with an excited, "Droller! Walk!"

We head out with G (5) in the lead. We had decided to go where they had walked with the neighbors last week: around the block and behind the church that is on the other side of our backyard fence. "Am I showing you all the way? Is that why I am in the lead?" G asks again and again. She pedals confidently to each street corner and then waits for us to catch up. She and M went and picked out the pink bike back in May as a late birthday present. It is still fitted with training wheels, but I think that if we took an afternoon with her to try without, she could bike on her own.

L (3) Photo by Paul Hasser
L (3.5) and I follow behind, stopping for every pine cone along the way and to give the occasional push up the hill. L chatters about everything she sees and when she realizes how far ahead G is says, "Oh! We better catch up!" So we do. F sits contentedly in the stroller, happy to be given something quiet to do beyond her normal active silliness. F has turned into a goofy girl this summer. We had hints of it back in the Spring, but now she is purposefully trying to get laughs from all of us by doing silly things and cackling at herself. But now she is silent and watching as I push her in the stroller.

F (1.5) Photo by Paul Hasser.
We reach our destination after 20 minutes of walking, talking, and on fall by L. Big tears roll down her face when she falls. But all she needs is for me to help her up and to store the pine cone she was holding in her hand in the stroller. It is easier to steer without a pine cone in your hand. Behind the church is a brick path to a big grassy hill. It is steep and long and wide. "Last time we rolled down the hill!" G tells me, "Can we do it now?" I tell her that they may and watch with delight as they roll down again and again.

L manages to get a lot of speed every time, explaining, "I am doing my tricks!" Her rolling technique is building speed on her hands and knees and then stretching out straight once she is going.  As the girls dash breathlessly to the top of the hill they ask to roll again. So, I let them. Again and again and again the two girls roll, giggling and dizzy. G comes to the top, surveying the hill, "I want to see how this part feels!" And she gives it a try, only to come back and strategically try another spot. She understands that no part of the hill feels the same as any other part, and she wants to try it all. L always seems to go for the steepest parts of the hill, and I think she gets a thrill out of rolling dangerously. I get a thrill out of watching her go.

F has asked to get out of the stroller and is watching her sisters roll. She waddles over to a flat spot of grass, tries to roll once, but instead is content to lay on her belly, kicking her feet, and laughing. She comes back to the stroller and climbs on the front and around it, and then tries the grass again.

The weather is lovely, with the sun shining and the breeze mild. It is time to go home to make dinner. After 6 "one last rolls", we put the girls' helmets back on and go home the short way. I wonder to myself how many more afternoons we have like this before the cold sets in, and resolve to take advantage of more of them while we still can.

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