Quinn and I take a walk around our neighborhood almost every day. He’s so content in his cushy jogging stroller, eating animal crackers and sipping water.
He points out all the colorful flowers and large plants and hollers DAT! and I do my best to tell him all about each one. We stroll by houses with kids’ toys in the front yard, and Quinn points and yells BALL! every time.
We pass dogs on leashes, and Quinn says WOOF! WOOF!, which is more of a FFFF! FFFF! sound with his bottom lip tucked behind his teeth. We wave at all the other babies and little kids in strollers. Old ladies and men alike stop and say hello and comment on what cute boy Quinn is.
I love our neighborhood. It’s so different from where I grew up.
Soon we happen upon my favorite tree in the neighborhood. I love how the trunk rises up in knots and twists, how the canopy of dark green leaves grows thick and dense, creating a cool, shady reprieve from the summer sun. This tree is what fairytales and children’s stories are made of, and I imagine little elves (of Keebler fame?) making their home here.
Or maybe I just ate too many fudge stripes cookies as a kid. I remember putting my finger through the hole in the cookie and eating around it, getting as close to my finger as I could without biting through the inner circle. And when all I had left was a tiny ring of chocolate, I would dunk it in my milk and eat the whole thing.
Cookie eating is an intricate process when you’re a kid.
Sorry, I digress. Seeing the world through Quinn’s eyes makes me remember things like this. Anyway, back to our walk.
We pass by the elementary school that Quinn will attend in a just a few short years. I get a little melancholy thinking that there will come a time when we’ll walk up here together, but I will walk home without him. I tell Quinn that this will be his school someday, but I’m secretly happy that’s still a couple years away.
Cars stop for us as we hustle across the crosswalk and into the other side of the neighborhood. We pass by the house with all the birds that squawk constantly, and I wonder if that annoys their neighbors.
We reach the house with the prickly cacti that hangs over the sidewalk, and I make sure Quinn pulls his arms and legs in away from the encroaching thorns.
There’s one place where the sidewalk isn’t sloped where a side street T’s in, and we have to hop the curb. This is no problem for jogging stroller, and Quinn and I say WEEEEE! as we pop a wheelie and go over the big bump.
We cross another street and arrive at the place where sidewalk abruptly ends, but then quickly picks up again after just a few feet. We rumble over the short path of dirt and gravel, and Quinn lets out a long UHHHHHH! and giggles at the vibration in his voice as he is gently jostled about.
After almost two miles and thirty minutes, we arrive at the shopping plaza that houses my favorite grocery store. The automatic doors open, and the cool air embraces us. Quinn squeals OOOOOOH! like he always does when there’s a nice breeze. He notices the banana display by the entrance, and he points and shouts NANA! every time.
I buy a bottle of water for Q and me to share, and sometimes I’ll get a Red Bull or Diet Pepsi for me. If there are a few non-perishable grocery items we need, we might pick those up, too. We make our purchases and head back out into the summer heat.
I refill Q’s tray with animal crackers and his sippy cup with water. We take a slightly different route home so we can stop by the park. Quinn always starts out in the swing, laughing as I push him higher and higher.
Then he makes his way over to the slide. Q loves to climb all over the platform and “drive the airplane.” He points out all the gages on the pretend display and counts the steering wheels. He touches one, then he touches the second one and says TWO!
On our way back to the swings, Quinn stops to pick up a large pine cone. Dat? he asks and holds it up for me to see. “It’s a pinecone,” I explain to my curious child. “They grow on those trees and then fall to the ground.” I point up at the giant pine trees that loom over us. Quinn’s eyes follow my finger and he points up, too. Dat? he asks again. “Those are some kind of pine trees,” I tell him. “They’re very tall and very old.” Quinn looks down at his fingers and presses them together and pulls them apart. Again he asks Dat? and shows me his fingers. “That’s sap from the tree. It drips on the pinecones and makes them sticky.” I get a wet wipe, and he doesn’t fight me while I clean his hands. It’s the same conversation every time.
Soon we’re on our way home again. By now, Quinn is starting to get tired. He lies back with his hands behind his head – just like his daddy – and is a little quieter for the rest of our stroll.
We pass by Q’s future school again, and sometime he’ll wave at the building. We say hello to more dogs, babies and elderly couples who are also enjoying a walk. We stop once again under my favorite tree, and I imagine little elf-sized houses and tire swings up there somewhere. I can’t wait to make up stories about this tree with Quinn someday.
We turn into our driveway and see Daddy’s car. Quinn points and says DADA! “Yes, sweetie. Let’s go in and see Daddy.” Q turns his little face and peers up at me from under the stroller’s shade. He gives me a tired smile, and we’re both happy to be home.