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Her eyes scanned the rows of books climbing from floor to ceiling and she tried her best to keep her squeals to a whisper because everyone knows you have to be quiet when in the library. She peeked through the spines into the next aisle and she motioned for me to join her. I looked through the titles her tiny hands had separated and asked what we were doing, what we were supposed to see.

“The dragon,” she said with her words barely audible.

Immediately I slammed the books back together and caught my reflection in her big brown eyes. I’ve been here before, but it was practically a lifetime ago. I’ve been lost in my imagination, but that was before I knew the weight of adulthood. I decided to let her lead the way. “What should we do?” I asked and I waited for her to decide. I waited for her to remind me that the world isn't always about looming deadlines and endless tasks.

“Follow me,” she whispered as she started walking, “to the kid section!”

We tip toed, like amateur ballerinas, through Non-Fiction and slid our way, backs against books, through Biographies. We paused in front of the Periodicals before flying over and under Fiction finally landing through the double doors of the Children’s section. I watched her look around, taking it all in, the numerous worlds to see and characters to meet; I watched the cape of curiosity she draped over her shoulders, wild and unhinged.

“It’s around here somewhere,” she said as she pulled and replaced books on the shelves.

She navigated through age ranges instead of sections, weeding through illustrations while the pages slowly started accumulating words. Then she turned towards me, her fingers pausing over an orange spine. She plucked it from those on either side and stuck her thumbs just inside the front and back cover. Before she opened it, she explained it was a portal that would somehow save us.

“We’ll be here,” she said. “Then we’ll be there.”

The book opened and she tucked it under her arm. A smile crawled across her face, wide and contagious, and we stood there until she pulled another book from the shelf. She tossed it to me and I saw the Knight on the cover holding a shiny sword by his side and I caught her smile before slamming her book shut. We put both books back in their places on the shelf. She was thinking what I was thinking. 

“Watch this,” I said lifting a fictional piece of steel in the air.

Then suddenly the dragon was gone. She grabbed the books she wanted to check out holding all three of them with white knuckles while we made our way back through Fiction and the Periodicals. She kept up the pace through the Biographies and Non-Fiction until we reached the place where we had started. We were there and then we were here again. She even had a card with her name on it to prove it.

Every day, everything, with her is an adventure.


March 29, 2017

Choosing only the buttons that promised to keep her coat closed, I buttoned them quickly. I twirled her hair into a loose knot and tucked it into her hood as I pulled it over her head then we both ran. A new playground in town warrants a visit, even in the middle of winter, even if temperatures were threatening to freeze.

In hindsight, I wished I had thought to bring gloves and hats. I wished I had been more prepared, but anticipating her excitement often trumps the mental lists I create for myself. It was true when she was born and even more now. I could have turned around, but we were already buttoned up and on the run so we threw caution to the wind.

It was decided. Brave the cold.

We tackled the jungle gyms conquering every obstacle we encountered. We waited our turn on the swings and limited our time to return the favor. We slid down slides and climbed the cargo nets and ran wild through various playground options until our noses turned pink and we started to lose feeling in our fingertips.

Her energy surpassed my own, as it often does, so I opted out after an hour. I tagged along the sidelines while she made friends with other kids she just met. I pulled my collar up closer to my ears as I watched her laugh at jokes I couldn’t hear and I shoved my hands in my coat pockets trying to hold onto this moment as long as possible.

“Brave the cold,” I told myself.

She knew the park existed, but she didn’t know we were visiting. She asked several times and it was never convenient with our schedule so I took an afternoon off work and made it a priority. Her eyes grew larger as we pulled into the parking lot, a secret worth keeping if only to see the surprise on her face.

Requests this easy to grant will slowly become the exception instead of the norm until suddenly, sadly, they will stop all together. As her age continues collecting the years, joy this easy to provide will soon become more challenging. They warned me how fast they grow up, to soak in every moment, to savor every fleeting detail.

They warned me to brave the cold.

Her hood fell off as she ran, her brown curls straightened behind her, the wind carried her giggles throughout the park and I saw how much she’s grown yet how small she still is. I saw happy on her face and it looked good there. It fits her well, always has. Joy this easy to provide will soon become more challenging, but it could grow with her.

Time passed, as it does, and we started making our way back through the parking lot with small talk laced between our steps. She kicked a stone in her path and slid her larger yet still tiny hand into mine; I squeezed and she did the same. “Thanks, Daddy” she said. Sometimes we have to brave the cold to appreciate the warmth.


March 22, 2017

A picture frame on our coffee table falls over. Somehow the arm holding it up has weakened over time and so it crashes and collapses almost daily until we stand it back up again. Teenage versions of ourselves smile back at us sandwiched between our grandmothers, our late grandmothers. Young love and promised potential surrounded by four corners, completely oblivious of the home we’ll eventually buy or the child we’ll create.

A photograph, we’ve been meaning to reframe it. Maybe now is a good time.

We fall into the couch, my wife and I. We’ve clocked out for the day. The sun has set and our daughter is tucked in and the dishes have been washed and we’ve officially clocked out from work, from parenting, from responsibility for the day. We let the silence surround us, filling the room and filling us, entire conversations that don’t require words. One of us accidentally knocks the coffee table, a picture frame falls over.

“How was your afternoon?” I finally ask.

We compare notes. We make an effort to share in the stress and the triumphs, to help carry the weight of burden and bliss. Then it happens. We break. The world upon our shoulders forces us to our knees. Dying relatives, surprising health scares from both sets of parents, bankruptcy filings from the company currently employing us both, childcare, car trouble, an overweight dog -- all within the last six weeks. Somehow the arms holding us up have weakened over time.

We’re forced to our knees and we pray while we’re there.

We ask for strength and understanding. We ask for guidance and clarity. I ask that the words He’s given me, here and there and everywhere else from then until now, are heard. Then we thank Him and we brush off our knees and get back up. We weather the storm. We divide the weight, burden and bliss, and soldier on together. Regardless of what knocks us down, at least we’ve got each other, crashing and collapsing almost daily until we stand back up again.

Our perspective, we’ve been meaning to reframe it. Maybe now is a good time.


March 15, 2017

I tear the corner from the bag and hand it back to her, Skittles for breakfast. It’s not one of my best parenting moments, I’ll admit. However, when we unintentionally won the race against the sun to see who could rise first, rational thinking insisted on sleeping in. I pour a mug of coffee for me and a cup of milk for her and slide into a chair at the kitchen table. She was already sitting on top with her feet dangling over the side, a palm full of round candy impatiently painting her skin while she popped them in her mouth one by one.

It’s Saturday morning and I haven’t had but a few sips of coffee, it’s too early for making plans. I watch her tuck a strand of hair behind her ear and notice how much her face has changed in the last few months. When did her jawline become so noticeable? When did the dimple in her left cheek start appearing as she chewed instead of waiting until she smiled? When did she start talking with her hands and raising her eyebrows separately? I lift the mug to my lips and take another sip of coffee, hot and alarming, the unmistakable taste of reality.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I ask. It’s a question that comes up every now and then, a check-in of sorts, especially when it feels like she just grew up between blinks, right before my eyes.

She thinks. She tosses her head from side to side and plucks another Skittle from her hand, a pink one, pinching it between her fingers while she finishes chewing the one before it. She swings her feet and the sun, finally joining us, crawls in through the blinds highlighting the few red strands of hair she gets from her mother among the brown from me. “A cat,” she says. “I want to be a cat in a pet store so I could watch people come and go and visit with other animals. I could watch them decide which pet is the right pet for their family and then I could watch them take one home.”

I think about asking a follow up question, but I know her well enough to know she’ll continue on her own so I pick a candy from her hand and I wait. “If I were a cat though, in the pet store, I would help someone choose me. I would know who the perfect fit was and could scratch or hiss or hide from people. I would wait until the person came along that would love me the most and I’d choose them. If you walked into the pet store, would you choose me?” I start to speak, but she already knows my answer. “I’d choose you too,” she says. “Every time.” Agreed, every single time.


March 7, 2017

I have a running list of comments, phrases, and one liners from Madison that I keep in my phone. I started collecting them when she started talking because almost as soon as she said something that had me laughing hysterically, she said something else funny that made me forget it entirely. 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 her random comments (click here for more).

MADISON:  Is the coffee table made of coffee?
ME:  No, silly.
MADISON:  So it's really just a little table then. Weird.


Yelling from the top of the stairs...
MADISON:  Mama! MaaaaaMaaaaa!
ALLISON:  What? What's wrong?
MADISON:  I need to change into something more fashionable.


MADISON:  Pan of high ninas!
ME:  What are you talking about?
MADISON:  It's a Chatty Patty, just put it in your phone.


After meeting someone new...
MADISON:  I was a little shy that time.
ALLISON:  It's okay. I get shy, too, sometimes.
MADISON:  Even though you're a mom? Moms aren't shy.


MADISON:  Can I change into a ball gown?
ME:  Sure.
MADISON:  I have an urge to twirl.


March 1, 2017

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