A Letter to My Daughter Who Asked to Go to the Park on the Coldest Morning of the Winter

Little Aussie

Dear Hushpuppy,

It was so cold this morning. It’s actually been snowing in Australia, if you can believe it. Not here in Sydney – it’s not that cold – but cold enough that we took your heavy coat and buttoned all three buttons. We went early to the gym, and after, on the short walk towards home, we chatted about the colors of cars that passed and the fact that it was a (sort of) sunny day. I thought I was home free when you asked for a snack, and I said we’d go straight home, but moments later you remembered that obstacle I’m so often trying to rush you past, hoping you won’t notice.

The park.

It was cold and still damp from yesterday’s rain, but you’d been cooped up at home all day the day before, so though my inner monologue screamed “nooooo” like one of your best tantrums, I begrudgingly said yes.

First, I stopped for hot coffee, and knowing it would make your morning, ordered a soy babyccino for you. Your face lit when I handed you the little cup, and you said fourteen times, “coffee! Green coffee! My ‘cino!”
It was worth the $1.50.

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I sat on a ledge to drink my flat white, and you asked to sit next to me with your green “coffee.” The park was nearly empty, not many braving the cold and wet, so we were quiet together on our shady perch.

I pointed out to you a bird’s nest above. Though we were far away, you were awed, and a whole avian story appeared to you: “Bird’s! Nest!” (You say this as two thoughts because, although your vocabulary is lately becoming ever more impressive, you haven’t mastered the art of sentence structure, yet). “Eggs!” “Cracking!” “Baby. Bird.” You’d still be talking about the bird’s nest and its imagined inhabitants at bedtime.

You take a turn on the swing and dizzy yourself on the spinny-around thing, but the playground equipment is too limiting for your mind this morning. We move on. I follow your lead.

We meet a big black Lab, who you wave to, and the owners, practically sparkling kindness, say he’s a rehabilitation dog and would be happy to say hello to you. You laugh, surprised, when he licks your face, and it takes a little coaxing for you to offer him a gentle pat. We thank him – Scooter the Dog – and then coo together about the excitement of the meeting.

You want to explore a tucked away corner of the playing field. With a sixth sense you share only with the fairies, you locate “magic,” and try to send it off into the world.photo 3 (14)

You don’t give a second thought to crawling between two wooden planks, and while I’m silently cringing – “spiders. Snakes,” you’re busily turning it into a postman’s truck. I offer you a rock. It’s added to the pile of parcels. As does a leaf and three sticks.
Then, they become a painting.photo 4 (7)

A few steps up the hill, you find a tree and want to show me your best balancing, inspired by the gymnastics class you took last term. I am truly impressed. I offer you a seat on the sturdy branch, knowing you’ll carefully hold on while I snap your photo. You feel like you’re flying, and you’re on top of the world for a few moments.

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We wander along. Down the hill and across a field, you spy a lone magpie, just begging to be chased. Off we go. It escapes capture … just … but no matter. You find a large stick, and by large stick, of course, I mean a “fishing pole.”photo 3 (16)

You’re impervious to the temperature, but I’m getting cold. I think I ought to start ushering us towards home. “Race you to the top!,” I challenge.

“Race you!,” you agree. I get there first, but that’s because you stopped after seven steps to pick up a leaf. “Prize,” you tell me. So, I suppose you did win, after all.photo 5 (3)

You find a ledge. It’s a kitchen, and your leaf and four blades of grass are your ” ‘gredients.” You begin assembling. I ask you what you’re making. “Soup.” That’s good. We’d both do well to have a nice soup for lunch today, I think.

“What kind of soup?”
“Blue soup.”
My favorite.photo 1 (22)

I try not to rush you too much, but finding a slow moment in the preparation, I suggest we begin moving towards home. We round the corner, and you find a house. You begin rearranging some large rocks. That’s the bedroom. You invite me in. “Mama…? House?” I help you with the interior decoration. Some of the rocks are too heavy for you.photo 2 (20)

We move on. You are a good citizen, picking up all of the “crumbs” with the vacuum cleaner you located on the path.photo 3 (15)

I think we’ll get home soon, but we meet a friend of yours from the neighborhood, a sweet Iranian boy just a month older than you. You talk him into a game of hide and seek, where the two of you hide together in the branches of a small tree, and his father and I do our best to find you, over and over. High fives all around each time the two of you come out of hiding.

Both swings are free, and the pair of you claim them. You synch up on your backs and forths, and you giggle at each other, then you look up at me, smile and tell me, “Friend.” I know. There’s not much better than sharing a moment of dual joy with a dear friend.

You’re a dog and then a frog, woofing and ribbiting on the slippery dip slide. Finally I tell you “one more time, and then home.” You consent, take your one more time, and amble into your seat in the stroller. We head for home, and a warming lunch.

My lovely girl. I’ve blinked, and you’ve turned into a 2-1/2 year old. I can see your personality shining from every red-nosed, cold-fingered pore of your person. You have an artist’s soul. You’ve never been bored a moment in your little life. You have all the marks of an introvert – just like your mother – happy to entertain yourself, but you’re a sweet and welcoming friend, too.

You were right about the park from the very beginning, sweet pea. You needed it, and I needed it, too. It’s always there, but sometimes I get a reminder – you have every piece of my heart, just the way you are. May you always glow with the honesty of your true self the way you did today, and may I always be present to encourage your imagination, nurture your wishes, and share your delicious blue soup.photo 4 (8)


Your Cold and Grateful Mother

10 thoughts on “A Letter to My Daughter Who Asked to Go to the Park on the Coldest Morning of the Winter

  1. Cindy@ Your Kids OT

    The things we do as parents! You sound like a wonderful mum. We recently went on a farm stay where the temp was between 1 and 6 degrees…and yet we were out there brushing horses, feeding animals, collecting eggs! I think it is called LOVE. 🙂

    1. Cristin Post author

      Oh, that sounds just lovely – and cold!!
      It definitely is called love, and sometimes these moments serve to remind us of that. 🙂

  2. Mumma McD

    This is so beautiful Cristin 🙂 Lovely photos. I try to say ‘yes’ more often than I say ‘no’, even though sometimes it’s my first instinct to refuse! But saying yes is a lot more fun. For everyone.

    1. Cristin Post author

      You’re so right! I often want to say no, but it’s true that we almost always have a great time when I say yes.

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