It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Florida. The heat and humidity have finally departed (hopefully for the next few months), the sun shines and the air has the slightest of nips to it. THIS is why you live in Florida (well, and the whole no state income tax thing is pretty nice, too).
E. and I have been trying to take advantage of this glorious weather as much as possible, so I took her to the place that she begs to go all summer — the “castle park” in Winter Park. Technically, it’s called Lake Island Park. But Her Highness thinks it’s her personal Buckingham Palace.
We’ve been bringing E. here since she first learned to walk. In fact, I took one of my favorite pictures of her ever here when she was 18 months old.
These days it’s E. coming down through the tires.
Why yes, there was a shoe change from the first photo to the second. She finally agreed with me that it was too cold for strappy sandals.
Once upon a time, she also needed us to explore the giant tires.
Now it’s all, “I got it Mommy.”
I realized at the park that this is sort of the Toddler Golden Age of Playgrounds. She’s at an age where she still really loves them and could spend hours there (which we in fact did). But she’s also old enough that I don’t have to follow her around with my arms held out like a net, ready to catch her at a moment’s notice. When she was younger, I honestly used to avoid certain playgrounds (especially this one) because it was just too hard to try and keep her from breaking her neck. Now she can go anywhere, all by herself, and I just watch her confidence grow by the minute.
The hardest part is keeping track of her to make sure she’s still there. So I have one trick up my sleeve that I always use at parks — bright leggings or shoes. That ensures that I can always spot her, even if I can’t see her face.
Another reason this is a great time of year in Florida is all our friends from the north come to visit.
OK, I know this is a long post about some random park. But it was a great afternoon and reminded me how important it is to get out of the house sometimes and just let E. be E. We had no timetable, no agenda. For about 2 1/2 hours, we played, explored, exercised (yes, we ran races around the lake and then she put me through some of her ballet drills. She’s tough!), had a picnic, played tag and talked about the migration of birds. She even performed a one-woman show, which she made me sit through, then giving a standing O for.
Too often, I feel like we’re rushing through our days to squeeze in this or that activity, errands or heading out to Disney. Sometimes, we all just need a day at the park.
Floridians, tell me your favorite park — we’re always looking for a new spot. Everyone else, do you take your kids to the park or do you have a backyard swingset? And am I at the point where I can start bringing a book to the park with me? It still feels wrong for some reason.