Monday, July 04, 2005

in which a baby and her mommy and her daddy all have a very good day indeed

For the past fortnight, give or take a moonlit evening, Jacqui has fallen asleep around 9:30pm and slept through until 8am, and that's what happened again last night. She had an entire scrambled egg and one whole pancake for breakfast, along with her giant 10-oz cup of milk, and then we played Let's Walk Up the Stairs and Let's Walk Down the Stairs and Let's Read Every Book in Jacqui's Room and Let's Try Not to Scream Too Loud When We Change the Diaper. It was a good morning.

Geoff slept in a bit, which is fair since he's been letting me sleep every morning for the past ... oh, year or so. When he joined us in the Land of Nearly Awake at 9:30, it was just after Jacqui had dragged me and her diaper bag to the front door for the twelfth time. I love a word that ends in "fth", yes I do.

I had a lovely shower, and then Ms Dapper-in-a-Sunsuit and I drove to Accotink Park. She napped in the car for almost an hour and then we played! What actually happened was this: we went over to the playground, and I hovered over her like some kind of overprotective MOTHER or something because there were so many other kids all running around and climbing all over the equipment, and she kind of clung to me. And then, I backed off. And THEN she had a great time. The other kids loved her -- there were these adorable four-year olds coming up and patting her head, or putting their hands on her cheeks, and I successfully squelched the impulse to pull out my machete, and she had so much fun climbing where she could climb and sliding where she could slide and standing there, grinning as big as she could grin while she watched the other kids run around and yell their kidly yells and play their kidly games.

We stayed for nearly two hours, even though I was melting after only five minutes in that sun. Some people don't perspire, or if they do it's so gently you'd never notice. I don't perspire either -- I sweat, and even though I don't reek of it because I know how to bathe and perfume myself, there is no disguising the fountain that my body becomes in weather over 85F. (Note: Jacqui and I were both coated in #50 sunblock, and only her head sweats. She maintained perfect decorum otherwise. ;)

Then we stood in line for ice cream and water, and that's when I discovered the one place in the entire United States that is not trying to make a profit. The concession stand doesn't sell bottled water -- she sold me a cup of ice water for 10 cents. And I made a tremendous sacrifice -- entirely unappreciated -- for Jacqui by buying an orange-ice instead of ice cream, because all of the ice cream involved chocolate; Jacqui was only interested in the paper wrapper after it was empty, which means that I had to eat all of it by myself. I do not enjoy frozen fruit-flavored water -- there's no CHOCOLATE in that. AND the girl who sold it to me had to laugh because you know, honestly, I was expecting to pay $1.50 for a bottle of water and at least that for ice cream, and all I had was a $20, and my total was 85 cents.

We got home at about 4:30, just after Geoff had finished his shower, and the baby and I changed into fresh clothes and we went out AGAIN, the three of us, to a friend-of-Geoff's house for a July 4 "Backyard Burn-Down" party. And it was FUN! There were two other kids there, both a little older than Jacqui, and they all played and had a great time. Our hosts had set up a kiddie-pool where the three of them splashed (mostly independently of each other), and their other guests were fun to listen to. (We're good at being audience, which lots of people seem to appreciate.)

And around 8pm, before the sun had really set but also before the kids would've needed to go to bed, Dave started setting off the fireworks.

I have never been a true fan of fireworks. Call me crazy, but setting things on fire in your backyard -- or even in your municipal park, if you happen to be a government entity -- and not just fire but noise, BIG NOISE, and noxious fumes and smoke -- none of these things tempt me, regardless of how many hotdogs and bottles of beer you may have ingested to prepare yourself for lighting the fuses.

But this was actually fun! Geoff and Jacqui and I sat in their hammock-on-a-frame a little apart from everyone else. This wasn't intentional; it's just where we happened to be when Dave said "Okay!" and brought out the fireplace lighter. He started lighting fuses, and I made an important discovery: fireworks are like swimming pools.

I have never really enjoyed swimming pools, because I don't swim. I can play in the shallows, if I can trust everyone involved not to splash me, but that's about the end of it. When Jacqui was born, I told Geoff I wanted to take her to swimming lessons as early as possible -- both for her sake AND for mine. Now Jacqui loves the water ... and I -- well, just don't splash me and we'll be fine. But I needed to see HER enjoying the water -- I need to know that she can have fun in it and not be afraid of it. And tonight, she LOVED the fireworks! She didn't like the loud noises, but she'd push my hands away every time the noises stopped so that she could turn her head and see the pretty lights again! By the time Dave lit the last fuse, she was clapping non-stop.

She was so happy. She'd clap, even as she rubbed her eyes -- it was 9pm, and she'd outlasted both of the other children.

We packed her into the car, she fell asleep during the 10-minute drive, and she's upstairs in her crib right now, sound asleep after an absolutely perfect day.

And that's what July 4 means to me.