Three of the grandchildren are visiting, the youngest three-and-a-half years old. She and I put in some backyard time late yesterday afternoon. She found our little fountain and carefully chose some small stones to throw into it (looking back at me each time to see if she would get into trouble--she didn't). We had a bubble wand, and at her insistence I waved and waved, sending series of blue-pink bubbles up around our heads. Each time I would catch one on the wand and then obediently hand the wand to her so that she could touch my face with it and cackle when the bubble burst on my nose. We did this many times.
Some dark clouds rolled in. I had put down the back of the swing, making a bed for us under the canopy (this is a swing I bought at Lowe's for just under $100 two summers ago). As it rained off and on, we scrunched our shoulders against the sprinkly breeze and laughed because we were outside but not in the rain.
Then the walk around the neighborhood, during which we practiced jumping over cracks in the sidewalk--with one foot at a time or two feet together. Halfway home she grew "hot" and needed to be carried. So we did the piggyback ride the rest of the way.
When she grew cranky later, I tried to get her to lie down with me on the porch lounger, and for a while I entertained her by singing the ABC song in various voices, including my so-so impersonation--excuse me, inpigonation--of Miss Piggy. But she really did not want to sleep. I decided this was not a battle worth fighting.
Of course, our time was punctuated by glasses of water and various snacks and many trips in and out of the house, up and down stairs, touching the nose of this dog and rubbing the belly of that one, trying to catch Bones the cat or pick up Little Buddha the cat (dogs loved the attention, cats didn't). You really can't stay seated for long with a little one moving your environment around and introducing mini-dramas one after the other.
At age 52 I'm pretty awake to life. I notice things that used to be mere scenery. But a few hours with three-year-old Dakota was a refreshing experience of mindfulness, of living with energy and joy right this minute.