Parking is way cheaper at our apartment than it is at the hotel so Joe and Mike headed off with the van as Marissa, Sadie, Ruby and I strolled home. Ruby held on to my arm and Sadie, wanting to be like her big sister, walked a step behind, also holding on to my arm. This wasn't going to work so we arranged for Ruby to be on one side, Sadie on the other, and we headed up Yonge Street. We took up a fair bit of the sidewalk, and when Marissa walked beside us all, we took up the whole thing.
We stopped an looked in several windows. Sadie tried to feed a plastic carrot to an Easter Bunny mask and found the whole thing hugely amusing, she still has the little kid laugh that charms everyone - even grumpy shop owners. Ruby, after a block or two, broke free and wandered ahead a little bit, loving the freedom and Independence that 5-year-olds experiment, but also loving being close enough to be safe. Sadie, held firmly to my hand the whole way.
We stopped at the window of one of our favourite shops on Yonge street, Reflections, and Ruby and Sadie looked at all the brooches and we made a game out of finding various brooches in various shapes. We huddled around the window and peered in at the sparkling array. Watching the kids totally absorbed in what they were doing was the most fun of all. We broke from the window and just before arriving home, met up with Joe and Mike, who had just parked the van.
It's only a few blocks from hotel to apartment and I've made that walk hundreds of times with Joe. I love the bustle of Yonge Street but we seldom really stop to look in store windows or feed plastic carrots to bunny masks. I don't know why - it's fun. But what really marked the occasion for me was how people responded to seeing little children so firmly attached to my arm or my hand as we walked up the street. As the kids were wearing Easter Bunny ears and as they were so obviously having a terrific time, their presence and their joy at just being there, with me, together, seemed to make some kind of statement.
I'm not sure what.
But there were glances and smiles from those who noticed the bunny ears, there were smiles and glances from those who saw kidlets attached to the wheelchair, and there was a bit of surprise in every pair of eyes. Surprise maybe that I was loved, or that I was 'of this world' enough to be attached to children, or at the very ordinariness, or the extraordinary ordinariness, of a family walking and rolling along Yonge Street together.
I'm not sure.
But what I am sure of was this: the feeling of tiny hands holding mine is the best way to start the Easter weekend.