They come to me when I’m in the middle of packing for our camping trip. Close-cropped brown hair and bobbed sandy brown above chocolate eyes and gray-brown galaxy eyes. Wide chocolate eyes and sparkling galaxy eyes above radiant smiles.
“Want to take a walk Mama? Want to go to the dead end road?”
I stop and look at them for a second. Sieg in a teeshirt a little too short for his long belly and maroon jogging pants (he calls them ‘stretchy-pants’ with an inordinate fondness) that he changed into as soon as we got home. His yellow rainboots are on the wrong feet, but they are on. Eva is wearing the unicorn dress she got for her birthday, fluffy tulle and long sleeves, and a pair of well-loved cowboy boots. They are ready.
“Sure,” I say, “Let’s go.”
They clearly expected a refusal, or at least a delaying. Their faces light up, smiles even wider than before, and they both instantly check my feet.
“Your shoes are on!” Sieg announces.
And so we go. Sophia, Klaus and Josh abstain, but we three are out. Out the door and into the golden patterns of light and shade dappling the deck, the stairs, the driveway, the road.
The sun is hot, but there’s a light breeze blowing and nobody is bothered by the heat. Sieg barrels ahead, improbably fast in his still mismatched shoes. I call to him and he comes racing back.
“Your shoes are on the wrong feet, buddy. Is that uncomfortable? Want me to fix them?”
“No!” he shouts, running a little ahead again. “I WIKE them.”
I give up and swing Eva’s hand as we set ourselves against the hill. It’s a steep climb. Sieg falls back to hold my other hand. On the right side of the road several rose bushes line the corner. As we approach them Eva looks up at me with her sly impish look.
“Can we smell the roses?”
“As long as we don’t pick them, I don’t think anybody would mind.”
Eva squeals and runs ahead. She is soon sniffing to her hearts delight, and bewailing the fact that picking must not happen.
Her favorite poem is stil ‘I will be the gladdest thing under the sun. I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one’, but she struggles with the practice of that so we move along after just a few minutes.
They sit down in the grass at the top.
“We should have brought snacks.” Eva grumbles.
Siegfried agrees. His little mouth settled into a frown at the thought of the snack that isn’t.
I pull my phone out of my pocket and turn on the camera. Snap.
“Don’t smile for the picture.” I say, with mock sternness. “Just like that.”