Scout and I arrived home from daycare in record time yesterday. There was still a scrap of daylight left (huzzah for mid-January), and the air was warm, hovering about zero. Sliding the key into the front door, I asked Scout – perched in my free arm – if she'd rather stay outside, figuring she'd opt instead for CRACKERS or GO-PISH or BABIES (i.e., YouTube clips, don't ask).
She said YEAH. I asked again: You want to stay outside? YEAH.
I plop her on our sidewalk, anticipating the inevitable request to be lifted back UP-UP (she's not been the biggest fan of walking in the snow thus far this winter). It doesn't happen, and she ambles down to the public sidewalk, and looks back at me watching.
O COMING, DADDIE?
I ask if she wants to visit Dos, the neighbourhood bookstore cat.
Do you want to go see the neighbour's snowman?
She picks up some snow in her knitted mittens and tosses it towards me. I jump in feigned fear. Giggle giggle giggle. This is repeated five or six or a few dozen times. It's the most fun I've witnessed her having in this, her first real winter so far. She kicks at the deep snow, wanting to venture in. HOPE? HOPE, DADDIE.
I grasp her curled-up hand, and lead her so far as I can without filling my shoes with snow. She shows no hesitancy. I'm beaming. O COMING, DADDIE?
She was hesitant to take her first steps in life, waiting until she had full confidence that her feet would work for her. Then, once mobile, she did not enjoy taking that act from smooth surfaces to grass, or snow. She's yet to find a relaxed state in the pool, curling like a bug over floating like a starfish. A thought would sometimes bubble up inside me, that she was watching me closer than I imagined, that she was absorbing my own habit of reticence.
She tramps through the fresh snow, coating her brown cords. She's so happy. Squealing. Her woolen mittens are a patchwork of crusted ice. I know it's seeped through by now. Scout, let's go inside and get some proper mittens on.
Do you want a cracker and some milk?
It's dark now. OK. Let's go inside. We'll come outside tomorrow.