Nik wasn’t feeling great on Sunday and spent most of the day in bed. In an effort to give her some peace and quietâ€”and because I’ve been working so much lately I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend some time with Callieâ€”I took the munchkin out for a played-by-ear afternoon outing.
Lately Callie has discovered the unparalleled joy of the out of doors. So much so that she actually spends most of her time indoors indicating that she would very much like to go out. It’s kind of like having a dog, if the dog could grunt and point at every point of egress the house possesses, over and over and over. So my first thought was that whatever we did needed to be outside and thankfully the weather was cooperating nicely. I also knew we’d want to have lunch sometime so I eventually settled on a downtown area a couple towns over which I thought I recalled having a nice park right next to the main strip with all the standard overpriced boutiques and kitschy little restaurants.
The first park I found wasn’t the one I had been thinking of, but it was kind of what I was hoping for, with a slide and toddler swings and stuff for Callie to climb around on, but I realized as I was driving that I’d failed to apply or bring any sunscreen. With the jungle gym equipment parked directly in the blazing sun I figured it may not be the ideal location so I followed my original instinct and went to the closer park only to find it was more of a bandstand area and while it had a nice little strolling trail, it lacked any actual equipment. Still, I didn’t want to waste the whole day wandering around looking for the ideal park so we got out and, in keeping with the theme, tried to roll with it and see how Callie did. She actually seemed to have a pretty good time.
If you have met her at all, you’ll know how fascinated Calliope is by dogs. The thing that I think made her the most excited, other than just the thrill of being in a new environment (and an outdoor one at that) was the plethora of pet dogs parading around, each of which Callie had to stop and admire or wave to. As we leisurely strolled across the bridge over the largely dry creekbed we came up to the bandstand area where, in the summer, the city puts on regular concerts. Callie seemed to like stomping around on the hollow-sounding wood and after a few moments she took a bit of a rest on the step before some kind ladies stopped by to be charmed by Callie’s magical grin.
Next I let her stomp through the grass, which she thought was pretty funny and we walked around, picking up sticks, examining leaves andâ€”from a certain point onwardâ€”trying to convince Callie that just parking it in the grass wasn’t a long-term prospect.
At last I convinced her to continue along the path and we strolled around to the other bridge over the creek and around into the courtyard of an art museum that appeared to be closed. Outside though we found a statue of an artist on a bench that Callie found to be hysterical. I thought she was laughing at it so hard that it would be a great picture to sit her next to the statue on the bench. Of course, by the time I got her situated a woman walked into the courtyard with a small dog on a leash and Calliope completely forgot about the funny statue. Such is life with a toddler.
Next we gathered our belongings and took the stroller out of the car so we could wander up and down the main commercial drag looking for somewhere to have lunch. I’m such a fan of trying new restaurants but Nik’s choosy palate shies her away from branching out beyond the well-known unless she’s in a particular mood so when she can’t be with me I tend to make it a point to try something different. Maybe when she’s older Callie will be more of an adventurous eater like me and that can be something we share (signs indicate that, at least so far, she’s pretty open-minded about food). Or maybe not. But for now, since she’s beholden to my decision-making, I try to still go with something new to me without forcing my one year-old to endure Thai cuisine or Indian food with an unfamiliar culinary dictator (she’s too little to make her own ordering decisions). In this case I happened across an East Coast style pizza place I hadn’t tried and ordered us a slice to share. It was massive.
The pizza was delicious and we enjoyed people watching and making goofy faces at each other around bites of crust. When we left it was getting a bit late but I still wanted to give Nik a little more time to rest so we bumbled around a bit, checking out a little book store and enjoying the (indirect) warmth of the sun. After about an hour of window shopping and exploring we headed back and saw a little candy shop on a side street near our parking spot which we checked out. It was a pretty nice place if a bit pricey; we settled on a mini-Moon Pie (vanilla) for Callie and I got a Bounty bar which is pretty much a Mounds only with milk chocolate (in other words, an Almond Joy with no nuts).
The Moon Pie went over pretty well at first but she got tired of it fairly quickly and fixated instead on my candy bar, which was fine because I had basically the same reaction to the Moon Pie (which was the first time I’d ever tried one as well). As we headed out I reflected that in a real sense these are the experiences that parenthood is all about. It’s easy to think that the highlights of this lunatic endeavor are the big marquee events: Birthdays, “Firsts,” vacations, and so on. But in fact those coordinated and planned happenings tend to drown out the simple awe found in just being together with these amazing people materializing day by day, minute by minute before our eyes.
It was a day to treasure, and treasure I shall.