I spent the afternoon with Gabe yesterday. Just Gabe and me, for three hours. We did things Gabe-style. I had to stop at a grocery store, but even there I let him direct me. We looked at things he liked and walked where he wanted to go.
We toured a garden center because the piles of rocks fascinated Gabe.
We pulled in to an animal wildlife center and walked the grounds. Gabe ran to see the geese and ran to see the burros and ran to see the fish and hopped on the kiddie rides not caring if I didn't insert a quarter.
We went to playground. It was here that I had a vision of Bill Keane's Family Circus. Gabe was Billy and he ran circles around the park. I could just see the dotted lines in my mind's map of Gabe's playground tour.
Gabe climbed up a ladder and went down the slide, he climbed the rock wall, and went down the slide backwards, up the stairs, down the slide on his belly, went to the merry-go-round, the teeter totter, the big swings, the baby swings, the handicapped swings.
He crawled through the play tube, went down the slide on his belly backwards, went to the baby park, rode the fire engine, climbed the structure, ran back to the big park, hung from the glider, went down the slide on his back forward, went down on his back backward, went down on his knees, went down on his feet, and once he even sommersaulted down it.
He ran to the beach and ran up and down the two piers, he climbed over the rock wall, he ran into the tennis court and lapped the two courts, he ran around the sand volleyball pit.
And then he repeated all of the above several times.
Most of the time I ran and followed and offered a completely unnecessary protective hand. The one time I tried to sit for a minute he sprinted to the glider and commandeered a dad to give him a ride.
We left the park with a tired Mama and a very happy Gabe. As we drove down the road Gabe called out, "Want butterflies!" He began to sing, "Old Macdonald had a farm. E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had a BUTTERFLY!" (ceasing with the tune and hollering the word 'butterfly').
Since it was a special outing for two, I honored his request. We pulled into McDonalds for 'french fries'.