Skip to main content


Her hair curled naturally under the blue ribbons that held her pigtails and blew with every breath Mother Nature exhaled. She held her basket by her side letting it swing as she skipped (sans Toto) up and down the dirt path lined with fields of horses on each side. She smiled and twirled and laughed and sang reliving the magic of The Wizard of Oz, a movie that’s been in heavy rotation since she first saw it this summer.

Madison mentioned early that she wanted to be Dorothy for Halloween and we agreed to let her decide on her own costume this year since we helped decide last. With a checkered dress complimented by ruby red slippers that glittered and sparkled and danced under an improvised Kansas sun, we took pictures of our very own little Miss Gale at a location not far from home… after all, is there really any other place like it?


October 29, 2014

For the love of Fall, we found ourselves at the pumpkin patch this past weekend. We picked through pallets of classic pumpkins and odd pumpkins and stemmed pumpkins and textured pumpkins before making a definite decision on which ones would fill our wagon. Madison’s toddler indecisiveness was surprisingly at bay as she confidently made her choices without hesitation. We ultimately came home with an assortment of small pumpkins and medium pumpkins, some orange and one cream and one green, which hug the hearth of our fireplace… the perfect spot for a milkshake after a day spent under the autumn sun.


October 21, 2014

She walks around the living room putting her toys back where they belong, or at least in their general vicinity, and with our supervision she feeds the fish she named Elsa. After dinner, she marches her plate across the kitchen and places it on the counter beside the sink and just before bed she puts her dirty clothes in the laundry basket tucked away in the corner of her closet and she’s done so for several weeks now.

We’re starting her young. Her mother and I want to teach her a little about responsibility and teamwork and the importance of working towards a reward all the while earning it in the process. At the end of a week where she successfully completed her chores more often than not, we hand her a dollar to put in her ceramic elephant bank occupying the corner of her dresser. Sometimes she puts it in her purse, a shiny bag of glitter with a zipper and a strap, before making the transfer to her bank.

Does she always listen? No. She’s three years old and anyone who has had the luxury of communicating with someone of her age knows listening is more of a challenge than the actual task given.  However, developing a routine and making it a habit has surprisingly come easy for her… except the putting her toys away part. She struggles with that one most of all, but every time I see her on her tip toes sliding a plate onto the counter without any prompting from us I feel a small sense of accomplishment.

If for every mistake we make along the way in parenting, for every time we lost our patience quicker than we anticipated, for every hasty decision made when we wished for a few more moments to deliberate, for everything we’re doing wrong those glimpses of truth that we’re doing something right makes it all worthwhile.


October 14, 2014

She pressed one key then another and I listened as she discovered the sound each made as a result of the pressure she applied to them. She smiled as the song she created filled the room, a melody-less tune of questionable rhythm, the soundtrack of a three year old, music to my ears. Just as quickly as her tiny fingers danced over the black and white music maker, they stopped and she ran off to another task in another room leaving the keys vacant and alone.

I sat down in a chair much too small for my frame, with my knees nearly touching my chin. Like a giant surrounded by objects I’ve dwarfed, I pulled the miniature piano forward and placed my hands upon the keyboard resting them like I do on the home keys of my laptop, waiting for inspiration to encourage movement. Notes, like words, revealed themselves one at a time until the story was complete… until a quote I heard once before visited and lingered like an old friend.

“Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” 
–Tom Lehrer

She ran back in the room pressing random keys as she passed, laughs interrupting whatever song she was singing, before she climbed onto my lap. We sat there, our combined weight threatening the limit of the tiny chair we occupied, creating a song with my right hand and her left. These are the moments our days consist of that I think I'll remember the most several years from now, little moments of clarity and truth that reiterate just how beautiful life can be when we play along.


October 7, 2014

I'm not sure if these are amusing to anyone else or just my wife, Allison, and me since we're her parents, but I have a feeling we'll look back one day enjoying that we captured some of Madison's random comments (click here for more).

MADISON:  Where are we going?
ALLISON:  Target.
MADISON:  Oh, good. Target has a toy aisle.


ME:  What do you want to eat?
MADISON:  Let me think with my mind.


Kissing her bye when leaving for work...
MADISON:  Where's Mama?
ME:  She's at work. She had to go in early, but she kissed you before she left.
MADISON:  I wonder what she's wearing today.


ALLISON:  Did you poot?
MADISON:  Yep, it's the one I was saving for you.


MADISON:  I'm upset.
ME:  What's wrong?
MADISON:  It's complicated.


October 2, 2014

The bell rang echoing down the hall into the seventh grade classroom where several students fought the reality of another school day beginning. One girl nervously read through a chapter, pages of last night’s assignment she failed to complete. One boy ran his finger back and forth across his top lip, discovering the peach fuzz that sprouted out of nowhere within the last few days. 

Each student accounted for, acknowledging they were here at the sound of their name called from the roll until the teacher said her name and there was silence. Again. Then again. Three times her name filled the room, a question without an answer in return. A confirmed absence.

It wasn’t like her to miss a day. Her attendance was impeccable, even though her locker would lead you to believe otherwise. A previous conversation came to mind where we both filled the invisible phone lines between us with complaints and preteen emotions laced with hate and disgust and other general statements of angst. An overdramatic exchange that led to utter fear when recalled in hindsight. 

I walked to the teacher guided by my gut instinct and whispered in her ear. I could feel my voice shaking. I don’t remember the words I chose but her body language assured me they had an impact. She stood swiftly asking us to review amongst ourselves for a moment then she armed someone with a piece of chalk and the task of being in charge before leaving the classroom.

The next day came and the roll was called and when her name was announced, she answered quietly that she was present. Years went by without mention of the day she missed and it wasn’t long before I forgot it completely.


The bell rang echoing down the hall into the cafeteria where several seniors sat reminiscing about their final days of high school. One young woman flipped through her yearbook, faces and memories frozen in time she would later use as a reference of her past. One young man ran his palm over his cheek and under his chin, rubbing a shadow of yesterday’s shave. 

Each student accounted for, everyone was there including her. She pulled me aside and unwrapped the events of a day from seventh grade, a day she claimed I gave her the best gift she’s ever received. A day she skipped school and unloaded the medicine cabinet from her parents’ bathroom; the day I followed my gut and the path from my desk to the teacher’s prompting a call that changed everything.

I haven’t spoken to her in a very long time, but where ever she is I hope she’s okay. She thanked me for an act of kindness that saved her life, but I never got to thank her in return for teaching me compassion and concern and to trust my inner voice… lessons I intend to pass along to my daughter in hopes they continue reinforcing themselves generation after generation. In the end, kindness is the most recognized language and the gift most likely to be returned.


October 1, 2014

Follow @bradleycowan on Instagram