This weekend, we went to the Ridgeway Farm Fest where you can pay a buck for your 18-month-old to pet a Scandinavian cow and a couple frisky goats. Along with routinely asking myself if Clara’s vegetables are overdone, I also ask myself if Clara is petting enough animals and walking in enough grass. Her loves at this age are simple—other children, creatures that move on four legs, and a place to collect rocks.
She is such a little baby sponge these days, soaking in my words and informal, low-stakes quizzes–“Clara, can you put this in the trash? Clara, can you put the Widgets in the Widget bag? Clara, can you pour Mom a glass of strawberry lemonade?”. On Friday, Clara played with her dearest Anna and I felt for the first time like a proud parent. Being a proud parent is more narrowly defined than being a proud mom. A proud mom can be proud of just about anything—of a drooling lump of sleeping infant, of the word “ugh” (the distant approximation of “dog”), the way a one-and-a-half-year-old knows to push a box over so she can climb on the bed. A proud parent’s pride, however, breaks down to be about 80% proud of child and 20% proud of their own parenting.
See, I have taught Clara one thing in my day and that is that we do not go up the slide like simpletons but we walk around and climb the playground stairs to slide down again like civilized people. She can be walking around with breakfast still on her chin and dried snot on her upper lip, but that girl knows the proper use of stairs on a playground.
So, my friend Kelsey has no idea that I have endeavored only to teach Clara this one small act of playground civility. After their play date, Kelsey calls and says she was impressed that Clara knew to climb the stairs. I start to feel a little lightheaded, I am so overwhelmed. I am shaping another human! For at least one day, it seemed that simple: this is what I want Clara to do so I will show her. I just have to know a little bit about right and wrong and then try. And, I think this is why people have kids sometimes—because what you do matters, and when you try, it makes a difference.
Below is my sweet girl, photographed by Kenai Peninsula’s best photographer, my friend Kelsey.
Like this, but minus the puffy diaper and polka dots:
Here we are at the farm fest, watching some grunting llamas.
Grunting llamas! Do it. It’s cool.
Let there be rainbow-colored, inflated play areas, even at a farm fest. We might have to get one of these for the yard. The guy had to clear the area so little precious could jump without the seven- and eight-year-olds springing her to the side with their extra bouncy triple-somersaults. We had a line of disgruntled second graders waiting for us to get our three tickets’ worth, but with that smile staring back at me, I know no shame.
Just a good look at that “I Still Breastfeed and I’m 18-Months-Old” complexion.
Clara and I get down to the music of Kenai favorite Rob Justice and friend. All the way from the sleeping guy with waders on in the background to the crazy cluster of kids let loose from their parents, this video says “Alaska” to me.