Archive for May, 2010

The Hunt

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

It’s a hunt.  And it occurs each afternoon at 3:30pm.  I park my car down the street to avoid any chance of detection.  It’s still early on in the process, but one misstep now could give it all away.  And there’s too much to lose to take a chance. 

I walk quickly down the sidewalk to the school – passing parents gathered in the grass talking to each other or herding young kids towards the playground.  My attention remains focused as I see her rounding the corner.  Even her teacher is in on it.  She sees me ducking behind the bush along the school window and nods her head as if to say “I got it”, and then gestures to the playground on the far side of the parking lot.  Gracie takes the bait and her eyes follow her finger.  This is my chance, but I have to act quickly.

Greetings with Gracie are a punch to the gut – quite literally.  As is her explosive nature and animated smile, I quickly learned the difference in the afternoons when I would pick her up from preschool.  And as she’s grown, the greetings are more forceful.  Today all 65 lbs of her start at a sprint 40 feet away as she runs head first with her arms outreached to give me a hug.  Not so much a loving gesture in as much as a body slam, it’s how Gracie says she loves me as her head slams into my gut and I brace for impact.

To me the hunt is just as much about lunch preservation as much as it is about love.  And if I catch her off guard I’ll be able to avoid the running-sprint-slam-hug.  Tomorrow the hunt will become a necessity;  another 10 lbs and she’ll quickly knock me off my feet.  But that’s just Gracie.

Her teacher helps me win and today I’m successful.  I think she feels sympathetic for my attempts.  Without her help I’d watch her teacher wince as Gracie would tear across the playground and almost knock me off my feet.  Now I think she wants to avoid the schoolyard carnage.  And I agree.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the hugs.  I’d just like them a bit softer, like the ones Mom gets.  Still, I’ll take whatever she offers, at least until I get a bit older and she gets a bit heavier. 

So when you see me hiding in the bushes you know that I’m involved in the hunt and Gracie is near.  You might even want to stay away lest she’ll tackle you as well.

Are We There Yet?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

She hates the motorhome. Of course she’ll never admit to it. After all, it was her idea. In anticipation of charitable events across the country she suggested we buy one. I wanted the cheap one. The one fresh with the smell of hunting and beer. She wanted the pretty one, complete with air conditioning and a fully functioning engine. The salesperson saw us coming. And after explaining the importance of resale value (beer and hunting doesn’t sell) and fuel economy we left with visions of adventures to come. And by that, I mean that I dreamed of camping while she dreamed of luxurious travel from hotel to hotel.

One year ago, when we bought the motorhome we failed to communicate. Today we’re making up for that. And the communication is lively and animated. Two weekends ago we drove to Nebraska for a walk-a-thon. By that I mean I drove 20 hours and she slept. This weekend we went to Virginia for a golf fundraiser. And once again I drove 16 hours. As I write this she’s behind the wheel for the first time. Twenty minutes to be precise. And she’s already told me she’s too tired to continue. Of course that was after driving twice over the rumble strip and calling for caffeine. Now she tells me to go back to sleeping, but once again I’m too frightened to sleep. I guess she won. I might as well drive.

I’ve always known she wasn’t a “rough-it” kind of girl. Dirt, sweat and bugs never were her thing. Still that never stopped me from trying. But for Brooke, her idea of roughing it is McDonalds and the local Red Roof Inn. I guess we just communicate on different levels.

She says she doesn’t hate the motorhome. She just sighs with a tense smile. Even Gracie knows the truth. And now Gracie sides with Mom. Of course she likes bugs, sweat and dirt, she just doesn’t like being away from the television and video games. And in the end my best chance may be a little wilderness camping at a Hilton Hotel with a television. Think they’ll let me pitch a tent in the hall in protest?

This summer I’ll try again. While we have the motorhome I’ve planned a trip out west to Yellowstone. Everyone has to do it once in life. Gracie asks if it’s like the Wilderness Lodge at Disneyworld. I can just see her trying to pet a buffalo. Brooke wants to know if there are any mountains. She can’t stand how slow the motorhome travels up mountain roads. She’s been driving now 30 minutes while I write this and is now seeing her first West Virginia mountain behind the wheel. I guess she missed it all the other times asleep in the back. Still, for me, it’s all about the journey. And maybe this time I might be able to drive all 42 hours by myself. Plenty of journey.

Anything But Pink

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

She says she is a Tom Boy. We insist that she’s athletic. Either way, Gracie is nothing like her sister. Elena loved princesses, butterflies and the color pink. Gracie loves cars, bugs and blue. Where her sister would have collected soft stuffed animals and headbands, Gracie collects rocks and pony tails. But no matter how much she shuns ruffles and bows she’ll always be a girl.

Today marks exactly 12 days before May Fete, the celebratory “skip” day of our community. School all but gives up in the face of cotton candy and nauseating twirling rides of terror and doctors, lawyers and other professionals of the community call in sick. After all, work comes every day, but the “carny” only comes once a year. So backpacks and briefcases are traded for funnel cake and insanely large stuffed animals that only seem like a good idea until you get to the car. And in the end, the entire community is precisely $20 less wealthy, a bit sick from cotton candy and ready to get back to work while the “carny” waits another 364 days.

As May Fete fever captivated the community, Gracie informed us that at school the official king and queen of May Fete selections were underway. And just like every democratic election process since the revolution has been conducted, this too was more of a factor of who volunteered rather than who was elected. Grace informed us that at first she thought she might like to be queen. Despite the chance of a pink crown and flowing dress, she thought that it might be nice to be the center of attention – a predicament that Gracie has never had any qualms about basking in. After all, even if for just a moment, she’d be happy to wear ruffles and lace, as long as it came with flash photography and bragging rights. But then, she informed us, she had second thoughts. What about the king, she said. After all, the king, just like the queen was also a function of who volunteered more than popularity and wouldn’t that mean that she might possibly have to hold the hand of a boy that she didn’t really like? And if she did, would everyone think she really LOVED him? That would be just too much.

In the end, the May Fete king and queen was decided by default and Gracie withdrew her nomination for fear of the consequences. No fear of ruffles, no pink and no holding the hand of a boy she didn’t like. No drama, just plenty of funnel cake and more time to spend on twirling rides of terror. And that’s just the way we want it.