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Family Adventures: It’s all downhill from here

January 2, 2014

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Cottin’s was the second hardware store we had visited that day.

“I wanna walk in the snow!” the Kid insisted as we got out of the car, so we wandered off the well-shoveled path into the deeper stuff. Painstakingly, we made it about 20 yards before I realized that I had left my wallet in the car. I crammed my jaw shut to avoid an expletive, as we retrieved the wallet and retraced our slow steps in the biting wind.

As we stepped inside, a young man stepped out of an aisle to greet us. I don’t think he got out a word before I desperately asked, “Sleds?”

“Oh yeah,” he smiled. “We’ve got toboggans over here, and I think we have some saucers. I’ll go look.”

 The Kid pulls his new toboggan before going sledding for the first time.

The Kid pulls his new toboggan before going sledding for the first time.

The Kid surveyed the aisle end that contained the toboggans. “I want that one,” he pointed to a tie-dyed plastic sled.

The man came back with a big red saucer. “We have this one,” he held the saucer up high. “Or we have the real-deal, Radio Flyer, but ...” he hesitated, appraising the Kid’s age and size. “Yeah, he’d probably hurt himself on that,” I completed his thought. “It’s OK, I think we’ll take the toboggan.”

I was so happy to find a sled — any sled — that, to tell you the truth, I can’t even remember what we paid. Fifteen dollars, maybe? At any rate, it was money well spent. That evening, when Sweet Husband got off from work, we headed to Centennial Park at Ninth and Iowa streets, to try our new sled out.

At almost 3 years old, this was the Kid’s first real sledding trip. As I plunked him down on our toboggan between his dada’s legs, I knew it was even odds — either he’d be thrilled or scarred for life. I pushed them off, and held my breath.

About two seconds later, a screech of laughter echoed back up the hill as they coasted down toward the trees. When the ride ended, both Sweet Husband and the Kid ran back up the hill. “I wanna go again!” the Kid shouted, as he bounced up and down.

“OK, but it’s my turn to go with you,” I beamed back at him.

I sat on the back of the sled, and stared out over his head at the darkening sky. For a minute, I was a child again myself.

Sweet Husband offered a last minute bit of advice, “Lean the opposite way you think you should.” But I was too excited to pay attention.

“One, two, THREE!” I shouted, as we pushed off.

At this juncture, a public apology seems appropriate. To the couple with the lady in the blue coat who had to jump to get out of our way, I’m so, so sorry!

Aside from almost running a happy pair of lovebirds down, however, we made it down the hill without incident. When we got to the bottom and turned around, Sweet Husband waved in congratulations.

Then it was back up again — a workout to burn off my holiday eggnog — to sled again and again and again, until our fingers were Popsicles and it was time to go home for a warm dinner.

— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at www.mybitofearth.net.

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