For the five nights my sister’s family stayed with my parents on the island, Paul, Josie and I packed up our contributions to dinner and headed to their house (aka: the mother ship) at cocktail hour. The weather was beautiful and as the sun stretched long over the horizon we clustered around my parents’ glass table and ate our dinners family style.
The day the cousins left we planned to have a quiet dinner at home. While I cooked, Josie messed around in the carport. We’d just returned from swimming in the lake and her inflatable boat was in the center of the flagstone. I looked out and she’d climbed inside. I asked where she was going and she replied that she was going to Bumpa’s (Grandpa’s) house. OK, have a nice time (is she really playing by herself? Awesome.)
A few minutes later I peek out the door again and she isn’t there. I walk to the other side of the house toward the beach. She isn’t there. I walk around the side of the house quietly, afraid I will disturb the rare, elusive, self-occupied toddler (I didn’t know it existed!). Finally, I see her walking up our long, steep dirt driveway toward the road with her inflatable boat raised over her head. This is, of course, the same driveway that she cannot possibly walk all the way up when her parents are around to carry her. But here she is walking and holding a boat over her head. Not only is she occupied but she’s wearing herself out. It’s like Christmas over here. Sure, she’s headed toward the road but it’ll take her a while to get there and there aren’t many cars and they don’t drive very fast and, well, she’s playing by herself. Needless to say, I don’t want to break the spell.
A few minutes later when I can no longer see her I hoof it up to the end of the driveway. I expect to find her resting somewhere along the way, distracted by a bug on a leaf or maybe playing next to the road but there she is sitting in her boat right in the middle of the road. Oh stop looking at me that way, there wasn’t a car in sight and if there had been, it would have driven really slowly and have I mentioned that she was playing by herself?
Anyhoo, Josie tells me she’s going to Bumpa’s house. I explain to her that if a car comes, I’m concerned the driver won’t be able to see her down here in this boat. When she gets up three plastic plates, two knives, a plastic frying pan, and a plastic piece of lettuce clatter to the pavement. While I move the boat to the side of the road, she starts walking. It’s about a half mile to Bumpa’s house and I’m pretty sure if I let her she would have made it fine without getting lost. Finally, concerned that the non-plastic dinner is burning on the stove, I talk her into returning to the house to find Daddy. Maybe after dinner Paul will carry her up the driveway, because she can’t possibly make it to the top herself, and we’ll all walk over to Bumpa’s house.