On Labor Day, I thought we should be doing something.  It’s a lot of pressure, that third day of a long weekend, and I wanted to make use of it but I wasn’t sure how.  So I asked the three-year old.

“What should we do today?”

I don’t know what I expected her to say.  A bike ride to the frog pond, maybe.  Going out for ice cream. A trip to the lake.

“I want to go to the park.”

“The park? Which park? The playground?”

“No. The park where we go to eat pizza.”

“Really? By the water?”

“Yeah.”

It’s just a plain old park.  Nothing special there except a nice view of the harbor and a decent proximity to the pizza place.

“What would you like to do there?”

“Run on the grass with Sam.”

“Really? Huh.”

Sometimes a request is so simple, even my grumpy brain can’t think of a reason to say no.

So we went to the park.  And she did run around a good deal, circling benches full of tourists and swooping around flower beds.  Sam, who still isn’t a steady enough walker for uneven terrain, spent some quality time butt scooting around on the paths and the soggy grass.  There was giggling and chasing.

When their initial energy began to flag, we suggested a walk down the shorefront.  I fetched the backpack from the car and we tucked Sam into it on Michael’s back.  I picked Annabel some rosehips to eat on the way, which she liked and insisted on calling “cherries,” mostly so I would keep correcting her.  When we came to a spot with an easy path to the water, we headed down and sat on the rocks.  We tossed pebbles around the beach for a while, watching them ricochet.  I managed, in an impressively flukey shot, to balance a small rock right on top of a large boulder.  I was very proud of myself for about a minute-and-a-half, until Michael, in an impressively non-flukey shot, pinged it off again.

Michael remembered that he had promised our nephew a family picture for a school project.  So he propped the camera up on a rock and we took two quick timed shots before we ran out of patience.

Annabel climbed up and down a piece of ledge while singing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.”  Michael built a cairn on my leg.  Sam built a cairn on Michael’s leg.  Michael and Sam engaged in a cairn building/destroying game.

Annabel and I wandered down to a tide pool and watched snails slide around on the rock.  She rescued a few that were out of the water.  I tried to explain the basics of snail anatomy.

Sam got a bit cranky because we wouldn’t let him sit in the tide pool, so we put him back in the backpack and headed back towards town.  A few more “cherries” for Annabel and a brief discussion about how we weren’t having ice cream for lunch later and we were back at the car.  We stopped at the grocery store and then headed home for sandwiches and snacks.

It wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a picture-perfect day.  But it was a nice day.  It was a reminder that although sometimes the grass is wet, the picture comes out crooked, and one or more members of the party might get a little snippy, if you can just hang in there for the ride, it all works out okay.  We don’t need perfection, we just need everyone to show up for the game.  I forget that a lot.  I’m glad I got a reminder.

And all I had to do was ask the three-year old.

She could have at least looked at the camera, though.

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