When I picked the girls up from school this afternoon, the sun was still up in the western trees so I barreled through with the plan I had concocted minutes before - we grabbed some bad drive-through to tide them over (it made Nora stop wailing to go home and tell her sister, "Now I WANT to go to ... where again?" "Mount Trashmore," we told her) and headed to the sledding hill.
It may be a landfill, but it's a pretty picturesque landfill, with mature trees and bushes growing all over, a short broad sledrun carved out of the brush on one side and a steep skihill on another.
The sunset clouds were full-on pink and fortified with my orange juice and warm in my snowpants, I said yes to everything: the girls playing on the playground for a bit first, pulling their sleds up the hill for them, tracking with Mia through the trees to get a look at the scary slant of the deserted big slope. "It's closed," yelled the only other kids sledding with us, then, "Want to race?" Oh no way - we like the smooth edges where you glide forever rather than the bumpy middle where they were flying into the air and crashing with what looked like bone-cracking slams. But everyone was laughing, Nora with a wide mouth and pink cheeks as she tried, in her clumpy four-year-old in a snow suit way, to jump in front of my sled and tackle me as I slid to a stop.
We hit the playground again for a while as I counted up the compliments I was giving Mia, part of my homework for my parenting class. (Does "That was really funny but really gross" count as 1/2 when Mia makes a joke about eating with her mouth full?) There's "Awesome!" as she slides by, half-off her sled but hanging on with jaunty style, but isn't that self-evident? And "good thinking," when she suggests a little car may have made the endless tracks a cross-country skier left, although it's only half the story. I'll get up to 17 before bedtime, but when she is obviously feeling so good, I don't feel like compliments augment her experience so much as make witness to it. Looking for a place to give her praise does keep me in the moment, though.
The west sky turns the color of a bruise. Someone has turned their car headlights on to light the slope and the white light deepens the pools of dark between the hill's icy bumps. One more run, time to go home.