Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Things We Do for Love (and a bit of peace)

I'm making a far bigger deal of this than I should, but I'll be the first to admit that I've become a bit of a wimp in my old(er) age. I no longer enjoy being outside for long periods of time.

In fact, I kind of hate it.

It's not so bad when I have something specific to do, like walk through a beautiful garden or visit a zoo. I do enjoy occasional expeditions like that for their novelty and the other benefits that they provide. However, for a long while I've made a habit of avoiding simply being outside for the sake of being outside (probably to my detriment), because I've placed far too high an emphasis on creature comforts.

As a child, I spent a large part of my existence outside: discovering new and strange creatures living under stepping stones, playing in sand and dirt, enjoying camping trips in simple tents and sleeping bags with the Girl Scouts, spending summers in and around the local pool. But now, I just like my ambient temperature controlled, my personal space bug-free, my lighting friendly and consistent (of course, friendly lighting is near-impossible to come by now that everything is CFL, but it is consistent, at least), my seating soft and accommodating.

In any case, when Tom left to take Amelia and Michael on a long walk, and suggested before leaving that I take Abby out to the backyard when she awoke from her nap, I cringed a little. For all of my talk about finally wanting to have a yard, I realized that I didn't actually want to be in it.

I knew that Abby did, though. I remembered the joy on her little face on Sunday afternoon, when she first tried out her new climbing structure. And so, when she did scramble out of bed and pull on her door after not really sleeping much at all- that's what happens when we doze off in the car on the way home from a playdate, sadly- I decided to push my own resistance aside and take the plunge.

It was no small amount of resistance that I had to overcome, either. I didn't get directly from point "A" to point "B" by any stretch. First, I sat her at the table and gave her a squeezie and yogurt. She had snacked at the playdate, but not enough to equal a lunch. Then, I took her downstairs, having an internal conversation about how it was probably best not to let her run around like a wild child just after eating, that we'd go later, all while secretly recognize that no, we probably wouldn't. I got myself comfortable on the loveseat. I pulled out my Kindle tablet. I felt guilty, but too lazy to do anything about it.

It wasn't until Abby started misbehaving that it hit me: I'd likely have far fewer discipline issues to deal with outside. And so, I dragged my lazy behind back up to her bedroom to retrieve her shoes, I put them on her feet, I pulled up a chair in the backyard, and I sat down.

Immediately, I began to remember why I hadn't wanted to do this. The glaring sun forced me to squint and made me feel sleepy, the buzzing insects annoyed and creeped me out, the cloying smell of freshly-laid mulch from some nearby neighbor's yard assaulted my nostrils.

My dear Abby noticed none of these things. She was in her element- joyful and free. And if all I had to do to grant her such an opportunity was plant my bum in a not-so-comfortable chair and endure a bit of creature discomforts- well, I suppose it was entirely worth it, after all.

Not saying I love being outside any more now than I did yesterday, just that now I have a reason to try to.


On a side note, one other thing I did before taking Abby outside was change her shirt to the one you see pictured. The top she had on earlier in the day was a bit too heavy for the warm weather, and sufficiently nice that I didn't want to see it get grass-stained. I've been avoiding the shirt in the photos like the plague, because the last two times that she wore it (some months ago, now), she threw up all over it. Terrified as I am of all things vomit, I was too spooked by the coincidence to use it again.

For some reason, I decided to try to get over it today (most likely because I was in a bit of a hurry and it was the only shirt I saw in the general area I was looking). As I put it on her, Abby said, "It has throw-up on it!"

I gently explained that I had washed it, so it's fine now, but once again I am floored by her memory. The last time that she wore the shirt was back when I was about six months pregnant with Amelia, and I know my own reasons for remembering that she had it on that day, but I'm truly surprised that she did, too.

Also, Michael is 15 months today, and is sporting the very beginnings of at least one molar. Eek!