For a few minutes I had butterflies in my stomach. I left my daughter back stage in a pink sparkly tutu with silver and feather tiara on her head. I left her, along with eight other budding ballerinas, in the capable hands of her teacher to wait their turn to perform.
Becoming a parent has given me new respect for my own parents. I had butterflies about how my little toddler would fare at her first dance recital, something that involved about a minute in the spotlight. I wanted her to have the best experience possible. I can’t imagine how my own parents must have felt at band concerts. Or at high-pressure quiz, speech or one-act competitions. Or when I made my first solo flight in an airplane.
I remember one band concert when I had a trumpet solo, Silver Bells, I blew it. Started on the wrong note, never found a right note through the whole thing. Now, I know my mom was going through that painful experience right along with me, even though she was in the audience.
I recently came across some work my son did in the second grade. The teacher supplied a list of words and he had to provide definitions. Some of them are below, spelling uncorrected. They are an entertaining insight into the mind of this particular little boy, and I think they have a wisdom that is all their own. The italics are mine.
I was clever when I lernd how to controle the T.V. wile my dad wasn’t looking. I am clever when I pass my math test.
(Give yourself a pat on the back now and then)
My daughter ran up to me carrying a nearly perfect puff ball of a dandelion gone to seed.
“Blow on it Mommy. Blow on it.”
I pursed my lips and pretended to blow on it, conflicted—knowing what my husband would think of me spreading dandelion seeds in the yard, but also not wanting to disappoint my daughter who had so kindly shared this magical puff ball with me.
“I’m blowing on it, but nothing’s happening.”
“Blow harder. Try again. You can do it.” She said.
So I pursed my lips and blew again, carefully directing my stream of air away from the puff ball.
“Still nothing.” I said, pretending to be frustrated.
“Try again.” My daughter walked beside me.
I tried a third time. “Nope, still nothing.”
At this point, my three-year-old daughter broke out into song, singing one of the ditties from the Yo Gabba Gabba television show.
The tires of my bike kicked up the red dust as I rode home along the clay road. I had stayed a little longer than I should have at Traci’s; that, and the fact that Jock, the Rand’s Labrador retriever, was nipping at my heels meant that I was pumping as fast as I could. The dust clung to me in the late evening heat. The birds were singing their good night songs; the cicadas, frogs and crickets were chiming in with their calls, and the elderly Mrs. Rand stood on her porch, an out-of-place voice in the evensong, as she anemically called “Jock, Jock” in an half-hearted attempt to call him off. Occasionally a car would pass, creating a cloud of dry red dust that filled my mouth and stung my eyes. Such was a summer in rural Georgia.
I heard a grind and felt a sudden jerk as my bell-bottom jeans caught in my bicycle chain and ground my progress to a halt. Jock stood at the edge of the Rand’s yard lunging toward me, licking his chops while I half dismounted from the bike and tugged at my pants. I tried pushing the pedal forward and back with one hand while tugging on my pants with the other, but this snarl wasn’t giving at all. So I started limping my bike along as fast as I could with Jock snapping behind me and thoughts of what my mother was going to say when I got home, late, before me. Continue reading “Priorities”→
You may think that I’m talking foolish
You’ve heard that I’m wild and I’m free
You may wonder how I can promise you now
This love that I feel for you always will be
Somehow in Texas country music sounds better than it does anywhere else. It belongs. I was living in Texas when I first heard the Randy Travis song “Forever and Ever, Amen”. Once for fun, I sent it to a local radio station to play to mark my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary. I never really thought about the words of that song again until recently. That particular song may be kind of sentimental, but to me it expresses perfectly something that I have learned about my father over the last few years, and I have trouble finding other words that express the feeling as well. Continue reading “A Father’s Example”→