It's time to start warming up my baby muscles! Saturday afternoon was our first beautiful spring day of 2008, so I went to the playground with my 2-year-old niece. I got a great workout from lifting her up to the top of the slide so that she could slide down over and over and over. The next morning my lifting muscles were all sore. It was totally worth it.

A related story: remember when playgrounds used to have wobbly bridges made of splintery wood and treacherous metal chains? They're all plastic now they barely shake at all. So, it was disappointing for me but still intimidating for a toddler.

On our first walk across the bridge, my niece clutched my hand and very carefully moved from one plank to the next. A few minutes later I had her so wound up that she dashed halfway across it before she realized what she was doing. She stopped, looked back at me, and then confidently finished crossing the bridge without any help.

I was so proud, I wanted to bring her home and put her in Lucite forever. Aching muscles on the day after are a small price to pay for that little smile. If moments like this are the payoff for being a dad, then I think I'm going to be okay with all the rest of it.

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