Jason and I overthink the weekends, sometimes. We get our hearts set on elaborate outings that end up being enjoyable for all of 45 minutes but require three times the planning and travel time.
We purposely decided not to do that this weekend, and the most ambitious activity we planned was a trip to the playground. We spent a buck-seventy-five apiece to ride the park's miniature train, which to Noah and Ezra, ranks just above everything else in the world in terms of face-melting awesomeness.
For Noah, the most thrilling aspect of the train is the fact that he gets his very own ticket, that the conductor personally takes and punches a hole in, just like in The Polar Express. I especially enjoy watching this very serious transaction early in the season, when the conductor -- usually a teenage boy or retired train-loving grandpa -- is not achingly sick of his life yet and still seems openly charmed by little four-year-old boys who regard him with immense awe and reverence, because in their minds a summer job driving an electric train for the Parks Department is just about on par with being an astronaut or professional dinosaur wrangler.
He's a Leslie Knope in training.
Ezra technically rides for free, but he was so heartbroken over his lack of a very own ticket that we splurged and laid out an extra $1.75. And it was totally worth it.
The first time Noah rode this train he was Ezra's age. He cried and clung to me in terror, to the point I thought they'd have to stop the train and let us trudge through the woods back to the station. He was never, ever like Ezra, who simply accepts that things are fun because they are meant to be fun. If other kids seem to be enjoying themselves, well, he'll take that as a sign that we're NOT all going to die a fiery explosive death while being force fed mashed potatoes and finger paints.
To be fair, Noah's been enjoying the train ride for several summers now. And the slides, and the wobbly bridges, and the rock walls, and the big boy swings, and essentially most playground equipment he was once too fearful or uncoordinated (or both) to attempt. (Never mind that "once" could be as recently as last month for some of the last few obstacles.) The list of things he can't (or won't) do is shrinking at an awfully, wonderfully fast clip these days.
He has all the confidence a little boy his age should have, and probably some to spare. "I'm going to do it myself," he announced in the car, while attempting to buckle his own seat belt. "And you're going to be so proud of me."
And Ezra, our Fearless Monkey, looked on from his own seat as Noah successfully buckled himself in. You could tell he was so jealous, but he clapped for his big brother anyway.