Whenever the weather is even remotely manageable, I try to get out for a walk. I bundle Caleb up and sling him into a carrier, then grab the stroller for Colin and off we go. The stroller is more for pushing than riding - Colin very rarely actually gets into the stroller. But it does keep him from running off, and it also works to carry my bag and any treasures we find along the way (today it was pine cones).
Since it matters little to me which way we go, I usually leave it up to Colin. We walk east down our street, turn south for one block, then turn west, and finally turn back north at the retirement residence parking lot entrance. If you've managed to follow along with my directions you may realize we are almost back to our house. In fact, our house looks out onto this parking lot.
This is a trip with a purpose for Colin - to see the gate. Yup - the three of us just stand there, his hand in mine, and watch as the cars go in and out of the parking lot, and the gates go up and down, up and down, up and down. He loves it. The people in their cars love it. They think it's hilarious that a two-year-old finds such joy in such a simple thing. Colin has such patience - he'll just stand and wait until the next car comes in or out. In 20 minutes of watching we might only see a handful of cars, but for him, it's totally worth it. (Note to self - I should try to take him at 5:00 one evening...he'd go crazy with all the cars at quitting time!)
It's a real chore trying to convince him to leave. He just wants to wait for "one more car". the other day I nearly let these words escape my lips: "Colin, we'll come back again another time. The gate will always be here tomorrow."
Sadly, and unbeknown to Colin, one day soon the gate won't be there. We received a notice that they will be building an extension to the residence where the parking lot now is. And as early as this spring, they will likely close the parking lot down for good.
This will be our first "memory" - you know, the type you have when you revisit childhood sites to find them changed, or in some cases, gone. I was shooting a film in a university film class about playgrounds, and lugged all my equipment to a fantastic wooden playground set at my old middle school. I hadn't even bothered to scout the location first to make sure everything was okay. I just assumed in my childhood naivety that something so important to my past would always be there. You can imagine my surprise when I rounded the corner to see nothing but a circle of gravel. My beautiful wooden castle, my mountain to climb, my gym to hang off - it was as though it had never been.