The Hunt

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.

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