Sunday afternoon we wound up walking the trails of this adorable little equestrian center nearby that I had no idea existed until now. Spencer planned it as a surprise for us this weekend. He wouldn’t tell the kids or I anything about it until just before we left.
Spencer and I don’t always agree on how to spend our weekends. I love being home with the kids just like Spencer loves (or, at least is very grateful to have, and really doesn’t terrible mind) his job. But sometimes we all need a little moderation in our lives. Working sixty plus hours a week, he’d rather spend weekends taking care of things around the house and in the garage. (It’s hard to find fault in a man whose only wish is that he could get more work done in his down time.) But being twenty-six and living out the life of a middle-aged soccer mom with three kids makes it really hard to look forward to a weekend wherein my greatest sense of purpose will come from clearing the sink of dishes. I want to get out of the house; I want to experience things as a family. For a while it felt like no matter what we did, someone was complaining. We each understood and tried to sympathize with how the other felt, but coming to an actual solution was about as easy as trying to agree on how much is too much to spend on an eleven year old daughter’s first middle-school wardrobe. ANYTHING BUT.
We’ve worked hard lately to compromise; I’ve taken up running and gardening on the weekends so that I don’t feel so cooped up when we do stay close to home and he’s made it up to us by becoming a lot more fun to hang out with when we make it out of the neighborhood for some un-spontaneous, overpriced family fun. Him actually planning out a little day for us on his own and keeping it a surprise really won me over this time, especially because (being the worrier that he is) it’s not fun for him to plan things out the way it is for me. It’s always the little things that mean the most, though, isn’t it? Especially when the little things involve horses and ice cream!
(Bonus: Our pre-school unit last week was mammals, too! Score.)
Anyway, it was awesome.
The kids rode a handsome blondie named Pete and fed some of the others in buttercup blanketed fields that dipped and rolled with low, white fences. Spencer taught the team how to pick the right berries off of bushes lining the wood and we collected pine cones on a dusty rock path while we watched the horses trot and graze beside us. For a little while, we hung on the fence and just watched children take their riding lessons in a little arena outside the stables, making plans to definitely one day sign ours up for that.
Scarlett, fledgling animal lover that she is, was totally in her element. She took to straddling that thing like a fish takes to water, not a shred of intimidation in her. She even let go of the saddle with one hand to wave hello at us every time they’d clop and bounce past. On the trail, she fed the horses without being told that she was allowed (which she wasn’t because they bit, but we let her watch while Mary gave it a shot). We even had to stop her from climbing into their gate! The time she had alone was worth the price in gas. I’ve honestly never seen a child that small so richly enjoy anything in all my life. We all left unanimously deciding that if anyone should take riding lessons someday, it has to be her.
Getting her back into the car for lunch, she threw an absolute fit -- thrashing around, shrieking “HOR-SEE! HOR-SEE!!” so combatively it made my own throat swell. I never saw Spencer so patient with any of our three kids. When she was finally in and we were on our way out, he told me that it feels good to know she had so much fun that leaving sucks THAT bad.
And then I got to thinking, I wonder if she’ll always love horses this much. Right now there isn’t a toddler on the planet who’s likes aren’t virtually identical to hers: bubbles bouncing into formation at the end of a whisper, carousel rides, small doses of sugar in the lick of a big sister’s Blowpop… But I wonder if she’ll be one of those girls who really gets into horses when she’s old enough. You know, with posters on her wall and Lisa Frank stickers of purple haired ponies on all her math folders…
I wonder if she’ll be into 4H when she’s fifteen, or if she’ll see it as just another after school obligation. I wonder if someday she’ll tell us that earning her riding badge at eight was her favorite part of being a Girl Scout, or if she’ll want to be a girl scout at all. I wonder if someday we’ll tell her over a campfire that her love of all things equestrian can be traced back to that one, special trip to Carousel Park Daddy planned as a surprise back when she could barely talk. That we remember the first time she plucked buttercups and hay from the ground and tossed it over a gate so they could eat.
I have no idea. In fact, chances are she’ll be no more into horses than I was into ballet when I was ten. I don’t think that exposing her to a ton of new experiences at the age of nineteen and a half months is going to have some profound bearing on who she grows into on her own.
But I do love watching her, and having the chance to wonder. Sometimes, that’s what it’s all about.
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