This year that squalling creature was big enough to toddle around the patio, chasing basketballs and licking rocks while I cleared out the winter stash of weeds and dead leaves from my little flower bed, and Paul mowed what has become less of a wild acre and more of an actual lawn. Paul finished mowing and moved on to some other yard-related task, and I stopped keeping an eye out for Evelyn as she toddled around after her dad.
After a while, I noticed Paul standing near by...but not Evelyn.
"Where's the baby?" I asked.
"Off in the field, following the dogs."
"By herself??" Duh...
"Where is she going to go?" Paul replied.
I swallowed a brief flash of panic and acknowledged that yes, the fence would keep her in. But it wouldn't keep rocks and bugs and dog poo out of her mouth. It wouldn't keep her from falling down the slope and stabbing her eye out with a stick.
But I let it go. I've always known that it will be a struggle for me to let Evelyn be as independent as I know she will be. I want to protect her from every harm and hurt, but at the same time I want her to have the confidence to roam free and be herself. I can't project my fear onto my fearless little girl.
Evelyn spent most of the weekend outside, eating dirt and falling in the grass, and helping her dad build a really cool sand box. On Sunday I even let her roam around barefoot for a bit, just like I did as a kid (ok, as an adult too...).
Paul mentioned not so long ago that in one of the first pictures he saw of me I was standing on one foot in the tulip fields, the other foot caked in thick, brown mud and lifted high for the camera to see. I wouldn't mind being that girl again. And I would love to let Evelyn be that girl, too. Dirty, and a little wild and free.