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Field Of Dreams

For whatever reason, Cora had one of those
super-clingy days yesterday: the kind where you have to take her in
while you pee, and even then she screams for the thirty seconds you
have to set her on the floor while you wipe and pull your pants up.
And don’t tell me you’ve never had a day like that.


At any rate, by the end of the day Maddie was in serious need of
some Mommy time. I’d left the dishes half-washed and was
snuggling Cora AGAIN on the couch, reading “Bear Snores
On” AGAIN, when Maddie walked in and said, “Mommy,
could you find some time to throw the beach ball with

Which is how we found ourselves out in the
park twenty minutes later. My mom took Cora for a walk in the
stroller – she seems to love vegging out during a nice walk
in the cool of the evening – and Maddie rode her bike over to
the park, me walking solemnly along and exclaiming over her amazing
big-girl bike-riding abilities.

We didn’t do anything special for our hour of evening fun
time, but it ended up being one of those memorable times when
everything seems to slow down and you find yourself in a little
breathing space, able to really be present and enjoy your time with
your kid. The huge field adjacent to the park had just been mowed
and hasn’t yet turned brown in the Texas heat, so we kicked
off our shoes and ran barefoot through the soft green blades, the
fresh clippings clinging shyly to our feet. We kicked the beach
ball soccer-style all over the field; we tossed it back and forth;
we turned cartwheels and threw somersaults. Exhausted, we finally
lay in back on the grass to rest, which turned into Maddie climbing
onto my feet for an “airplane” ride.

As I lay on the grass staring up at my beautiful girl, her face
startling against the deep blue sky behind her, I had one of those
“my life is a movie” moments, sure I was looking at
perfect video footage instead of real life in front of me.

“Mommy, I’m going to keep flying up into the big blue
sky, and I’m going to fly away,” Maddie announced with

I looked at my daughter, curls coming out of her braids in loose
tendrils, still belly-down on my feet, and smiled. “If you
fly up into the big blue sky, I’ll fly up after you and catch
up with you, for you are my bunny,” I said, paraphrasing her
favorite The Runaway Bunny.

She smiled at that, then grew quiet as she began really examining
this scenario. “But if I fly up into the big blue sky,
I’ll probably land on a cloud, and clouds move fast in the
wind. So how would you be able to catch up with me? How will you
find me?” And I saw that this was turning into a future worry

I grew still and locked eyes with her. “Maddie, if you fly up
into the big blue sky and land on a cloud, I will fly after you and
land on a faster cloud. And because I have strong arms, I will row
through the air until my cloud catches up with yours. Sweetheart,
if you fly away from me, I will ALWAYS come get you. If you are
lost, I will ALWAYS find you. You will never go so far that I
cannot help you come home, ok?”

Maddie thought on this, her gaze far away on the horizon, her body
still and balanced on my feet. “So if I accidentally fell up
into the big blue sky, you could find me and bring me home?”
I nodded solemnly. A grin broke her face, and a look of –dare
I say it - relief flew across her face. “Ok!” she

Wanting to turn things to lighter territory, I stood us both up and
suggested we jump up into the big blue sky together. From the alarm
on Maddie’s face, I realized I needed to add the word
“pretend” to the sentence, at which point she was all
for it. So we held hands, scrunched down, jumped up really high,
and twirled all over the sky, arms waving above us. Soon tiring of
this, Maddie steered us back to soccer for a few minutes before we
wrapped it up and walked home.

Lying in bed that night, Maddie began a stream of seemingly
unrelated questions. “You know all the grass on your clothes?
Where will it go?” “It’ll go into the washing
machine, then out with all the dirty water.” “Will Cora
try to eat my oranges again tomorrow?” “There’s a
pretty good chance she will, yes. It’s what she does.”
“Can we go up in the big blue sky together sometime, for
real?” “Do you mean like take a plane ride?”
“No, like you said today. Up in the big blue sky, floating,
just the two of us.”

I thought about this. “Well, honey, we can’t go up in
the sky without an airplane. But I sure loved lying on the grass
with you and thinking about it, and when I stared at the sky I felt
like you were floating along with me. So how about we make a point
of taking some time just the two of us to daydream together again,
ok? And I promise, I won’t go up in the big blue sky and sit
on a cloud without you.” Maddie was satisfied, and we said

It’s not every day that you have such magnificent highs out
of such pedestrian acts as going to the park and playing soccer.
But with that evening, I was able to re-connect with Maddie,
reinforce my love for her somewhere real and immovable in her
heart, and reaffirm my desire to hang out with her just because of
who she is.

Not bad work for an hour in the park with your kid.


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