It has been past time for quite a while. Finally on a not so rainy day last week I decided the time had come. Cody was at school and since it was a Friday, Carter was home all day with me. Carter was excited by the news and even wanted to help. I did not know until later why.
Carter immediately got distracted from the work at hand by a huge semi circle of pinecones around one of the tall evergreens by our driveway. He grabbed his rake. The chipmunk, angered that someone would disturb his masterpiece pinecone mosaic, chucked the occasional woody fruit down upon Carter’s little blond head.
While Carter raked and leapt merrily about so as to be a more difficult direct hit for the chipmunk, I started filling a large tub with the colorful plastic reminders of a summer gone by; beach shovels, stomp rockets, water guns, gliders, bubble wands. I was ruthless when it came to throwing away the broken and unwanted.
When I had worked my way across the lawn to the lilac bush adorned with small pails to catch rain water, pinwheels to catch the wind, and other random toys hung there for reasons beyond my comprehension, Carter came running over. No, momma! Not our secret office toys!
For the past several months the lilac bush, aka their secret office, had been one of their most played in places. Next to the lilac tall lilies and Dixie wood ferns towered making it a great place for little boys to hide and whisper and giggle. Carter did not want their carefully planned out play area violated. I explained to him again that it was time to put the summer toys away. I distracted him with a Frisbee plucked from the branches of their secret office. He was easily distracted.
We played Frisbee for a long time then he helped me dismantle their secret office and take the toys into the garage where they would dry off and be stored away until next summer. It was as we were driving the bikes into the garage that he piped up. He jumped repeatedly into the air and every time his feet touched the ground he spoke; Now (bounce) do (bounce) we (bounce) get (bounce) to (bounce) take (bounce) out (bounce) the (bounce) winter (bounce) toys (bounce, bounce)?
Apparently he thought that somewhere tucked away in the garage or under the house there were toys to be take out and scattered around the yard for the winter season. He looked up at me, eyes shining with the excitement of a four year old boy about to be given a whole slew of new toys. I tried to let him down easy. I told him that in the winter it was cold and wet and that it was not much fun to play outside. He was sad. I asked him if it would make him feel better if the soccer goal and the Frisbees remained out until it snowed and he said that it would.