A few weeks ago, when the weather warmed up and it felt like spring in the middle of January, we began taking Isobel out in the backyard again. It had been a really long time since the late summer and fall afternoon ritual of spending an hour or so outside. It was like Isobel suddenly remembered those times, and she began asking to go outside with gusto on an hourly basis. I’m still not sure if taking her outside in January was a mistake: it’s been terribly cold (by our standards), and there’s nothing quite like your fingers icing over from holding a plastic bottle of bubbles, soap dripping on your hand, while your one and a half year old yells more bubbles please!
When she does get the chance to go outside she inevitably looks for ants. She has a fierce love-hate relationship with ants. She loves them because to her, anything moving or animate has the possiblity of being a “friend.” But she truly hates them because the banana experience as taught here they are EW EW YUCKY.
Here she is greeting the ants, with a hello and a friendly wave.
Then she just starts shouting baby obscenities at them.
YOU’LL LOOK AT ME WHEN I AM INSULTING YOU, ANTS!
We love going outside with her, but even dressed in my down jacket I cannot stay warm enough. Isobel seems impervious to the cold, like it’s not a Thing and it doesn’t exist and don’t you realize there are flowers that need picking?, and she runs through the yard, stiffly bundled in the two layers of coats I insist she wear.
Her fingers become tiny icicles, stabbing into the palm of my hand when she hands me a flower or poking into my legs so that I can lift her up and wave to an airplane. I’m surprised she can even move them and yet she insists, demands even, to go outside so she can do the following activities:
Race – this game consists of us standing at one end of the yard, counting down, and running to the other end. She usually gets distracted partway through and we must coax her to finish.
Coloring with Chalk – she’s bored of coloring the ground of the patio, but will gladly color the house, the fence, or the thin strip of cement outlining our flowerbed.
Blow Bubbles – Isobel can actually blow her own bubbles on a semi-regular basis, but really this boils down to me blowing bubbles, and her chasing them down and popping each and every one. She’s the Bubble Gestapo.
Picking Flowers – by “flowers”, we mean weeds. We still don’t have a lawn in our backyard, just weeds that are occasionally mowed into place by our neighbor. This was an ideal situation for a long time, and everyone should be so fortunate to have a neighbor that does lawns for a business, but he’s been going through some hard times and we haven’t seen him lately. So our ‘lawn’ is extra impressive, and at spots comes up to Isobel’s chest.
Our yard’s kind of a wreck, and each time I go out there I’m reminded of everything that needs work. But I guess we’ll be spending lots of time out there this summer, so I should get to it.