At the playground, the sun is dipping below the trees, and the frantic air possessing all the kids calms down. We can all feel it: the electricity has left the premises. The day is ending. Soon, it will be time for dinner, bath, and bed. And all the parents will breathe a collective sigh.
V is playing in the sand with her dad. She says, “What are you doing?!” over and over. (Her new favorite phrase today.)
The sun is going fast now, and descends into a perfect spot between an absence of branches and the top of the playground. I feel its last burst of warmth. Looking directly into it, I am gifted with its orange sunny blindspot and a rainbow ring of glistening light around its shadowy center. It lasts all of five seconds.
The moment is gone; the halo vanishes. I feel grateful for the warmth, and the spectrum, for several moments afterward, like they are still there.
I have learned to savor.
My daughter is running toward me now, all the hair loose from her ponytail bouncing around her face. She wants me to open my water bottle and use my hands to scoop out a cube of ice for her. This happens…oh, about a hundred times a day.
She places her hands on my knees and looks into my eyes expectantly. “Mommy, want some ice?” She says it like a question, every time. Despite how many times I’ve said no, maybe, this time, I’ll give her the thing that costs nothing, and makes her so happy.
(Why does she like ice so much? I ask my husband. I don’t freaking know, he says.)
(Recently, we had to leave a different park because she had a total meltdown about me running out of ice. She was inconsolable.)
(But actually, what is my aversion to giving her the ice? Is it the hassle of having to unscrew the top of the water bottle? Is it having to repeat the process so many times? Is it knowing I’m sticking my hand, filthy with park-ness, into the thing I already have to clean all the time? Is it resisting the demanding toddler, who has used up all of my yeses of the day already?)
(I sigh and decide that I don’t really know what it is.)
“Want some ice?” she repeats. So hopeful. So trusting.
I soften, still savoring. The sun gives us a sunset every time. I didn’t even know until today that under the right conditions, you can see a rainbow halo around it, if I’m only willing to look. If I’m willing to sit still.
V, delighted, stands up on her tiptoes to reach my dripping hand as I pop a cube into her mouth.