A fenced-in backyard is my version of heaven when it comes to our outside time. We used to have a long, thin backyard that faced my neighbor’s driveway. Without a fence. Or any feeling of privacy. And safety? Forget about it as I had to watch my girl like a hawk. She loves to explore and swing and thought nothing of walking through the yards to get to someone else’s swingset. Our front yard had a sidewalk, but it was directly connected to a busy street. That she had started walking down a few times when I was out walking solo. She can sneak out a door as silent as an ant. As much as I love the outdoors I hated outside time. I couldn’t relax in my own yard.
At nine most parents can let their child play solo in a yard and not be worried. When you have a child with a cognitive disability you cannot. While I think she understands much more than she leads on, she’s also incredibly stubborn and headstrong. (I have no idea where she could have inherited those traits, by the way. It certainly could NOT be from me.)
So when it came to the house replacement a fence and a quiet yard was priority. If we didn’t have it already we made a pact to budget for one put in immediately. Luckily the house we fell in love with had a huge yard with a privacy fence.
It is amazing. Either one of my daughters can go outside and swing or build sand castles any time they want. They now realize they can go even if I don’t want to. I can sit in my indoor screened porch and read. Without needing to keep an eye on their every move. We wrapped bungee cords around the gates so it is still easy enough to open the gate, but will slow her down if she tried to wander off.
So she puts on her outdoor shoes and goes outside to swing daily. If her sister is with they sometimes play together. Often they swing in tandem, each facing opposite directions on the swings they decided were there own. Unless there’s a moment like this where my sassy one chooses both.
Or I’ll see my youngest sitting smack dab in the middle of the sandbox. And when her sister protests it’s by throwing a shovelful of sand at her head. Bear in mind, while Mom ducked in the house to use the restroom I walked out and caught her sister dumping a pail of the same sand over her head. Fair is square. In reality I am reminding them this is not behavior that is okay. Internally I have the giggles, because I love that they retaliate secretly and evenly.
However, the sassy one has discovered Mom and Dad periodically go inside when they are outside. What she doesn’t realize is that we are STILL watching. Within thirty seconds of being left alone outside my spunky girl will be over in the area where our previous house owners had an above ground pool surrounded by landscaping rocks. Apparently, she believes these rocks need to be in front of our shed as she plops herself on the ground and starts throwing them one by one towards the shed. If she’s the first one out the door she aims for the rocks, but quickly does a ninety degree turn to the swingset when she hears the screen door open and knows she’s no longer alone. She knows she isn’t supposed to. But the instant she thinks we don’t see her… to the rocks she goes!