Here are a few notable examples of life at our house in those early days.
- We had a nice little patch of lawn at our house in Lakeville. It was perhaps 12,000 square feet and it took me about an hour to mow it with my walk-behind power mower/bagger. Little Sarah seemed to think this was great sport and would often come out to walk with me while I mowed. So, one day we were in the toy store and we spotted a little plastic mower that was a perfect size for her. Then, every weekend when I would mow the lawn, there was little Sarah following behind me, trying to stay in the same row, and trying to mow the same way Daddy did it. Of course, Mom thought this was so cute and Sarah was always so proud of the great job she did and would always tell everyone that “Daddy and I mowed the lawn today.”
- Our house in Lakeville was located about 30 feet below street level. Since the driveway wasn’t that long, there was level ground around the house and then a 15-degree incline up the driveway to the street. This made the winter escape for work in the mornings a real treat. But in the summer, it provided an unanticipated playground for a little girl with a hot-wheels tricycle. At first, Sarah would ride around on the flat area having a great time. Then gradually she discovered how much faster she could go if she just went a little ways up the hill. This continued for a while until one day her mother caught her “literally flying” down the hill with her feet in the air off the pedals and holding on for dear life. As I said, the driveway wasn’t that long and usually there was a car parked next to the house so the danger was clear. But, despite numerous warnings not to challenge that hill, she continued to love it. And she always found a way to steer out of danger and often used the grass as a brake.
- Sarah liked to copy us as much as possible. One of those ways was eating. This made it very easy to teach her proper manners at the table but whenever one of us [usually me] had something to eat, [usually cereal in the morning] she would want some as well. So, once she discovered that I had something she liked, she would quietly come over and stand in front of me with a pouty little face and stare at the spoon going up and down. This was actually pretty funny, but there were times when you just wanted to have your bowl of cereal by yourself.
- In those early days, both my wife and I worked full-time and Sarah went to local daycare. The woman [Debbie] in charge there was a friend of ours and would always have cute stories for us when we picked up Sarah. Sarah was very easy-going and did well on the playground with the other kids. However, there was one boy there who thought that he should be the only one to ride the little tricycle. Whenever he spotted someone on the tricycle, he would come over and push them off so he could ride. This happened to Sarah on numerous occasions and Sarah would just go off and play with some other toy. Debbie had seen this and had reprimanded the little boy on several occasions, all the while feeling badly for Sarah. However, on one special occasion Sarah decided she wasn’t going to give up the tricycle. The little boy came over and pushed her off, as usual. But this time Sarah discovered she had a pretty good right-cross and knocked the boy clean off the bike and onto the ground. Debbie was cheering to herself ‘Good for you Sarah!’ but dutifully went over to give Sarah the same reprimand that she had previously given the little boy. She wasn’t yet 2 years old and had already discovered how to stand up for herself. The little boy never tried to take the tricycle away again. From anyone.
- We had skipped the office Christmas party the previous year where I worked. Sarah was too small and truthfully, we decided that we would rather spend this first Christmas time with her than go to the party. By her second Christmas, she was a little more aware of what was going on and the company flyer had mentioned that there would be a Santa Claus there for the kids and they encouraged everyone to bring their whole families. When we mentioned this to Sarah, she got all excited that she would get to meet Santa. As the day drew closer, we coached her about sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him what she wanted for Christmas. We got her a special red Christmas dress and everything was going nicely. Nicely, that is, until it was time to go and see Santa. We got in line and she became increasingly nervous as she got closer. When the ‘Elf’ picked her up to give her to Santa she screamed as loudly as she could and couldn’t get away fast enough. Shortly after that she had calmed down and we went for another try. The result was the same and Sarah’s days of ‘Santa sitting’ were over before they had even begun.