Alaska was beautiful this July – sunny, warm days with rain often in the night – green and clean and not plagued with forest fires, the mosquito torment from earlier in the spring subsided.
Every day Lady Baby and I set out for one playground or another. Sometimes I pulled her in an updated Radio Flyer wagon (plastic with seatbacks and seatbelts – but still trademark red). Fearless on slides and climbing structures, she runs along ramps and wants to try and walk the balance beams – so far from her first steps in February!
She’s 18 months old now, and calls her important people by name, mama and da (when she says these, she savors the sound). To my delight, I’m Kay-tee.
We name objects and critters – woof, meow, cat – switching back and forth from animal sound to animal name. Most anything we say she echoes in some form, the exciting bulldozers and yellow machines in the next-door neighbor’s back yard are “sheens.”
And companionable “yeahs” – drawn out into two expressive syllables – “eyeah.” Pushing her in the stroller one day, I told her about something that had happened, ending with “…but he gave it a good shot,” and she said “yeah” with so much compassion. Walking home near dinner time, Mrs. Hughes asked her if she knew who would be home when we got there, and the answer: “Yeah, Da!”
One evening I saw playhouse possibilities in the cardboard shipping box from a newly arrived chair. I cut little windows, used the box’s side fold to make a swinging door (easy to close), and with poster paint sticks (perfect for decorating cardboard, thick and colorful) drew on window frames and a window box with flowers. Mr. Carson suggested an “upstairs,” and we cut a hole in the roof making a dormer (with an opening window), so the homeowner could stand and look out. As a finishing touch Mrs. Hughes folded a piece of cardboard to mimic a peaked roof – like Downtown Abbey’s.
We went to bed, proud of ourselves but secretly thinking our construction might be one of those things that amuse adults, without pleasing the target audience so much. But next morning Lady Baby quickly accepted the house as a place for her to retreat with stuffed woofs, sit on a cozy blanket, and close the door.
Or peek out and greet passers by with her enthusiastic “hi” or “bye!”