Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When Daddy's Away

On Monday and Wednesday nights, Darrick goes to jiu-jitsu. I mean, he tore his left rotator cuff and had to get shoulder surgery a few years back when I was pregnant with Rohan, so it only makes sense that he's back to it and training for another competition, right?

Let's just say, I think I preferred him training for an eating contest. Even if it meant cabbage and the gas that creates. But I digress.

After eating dinner (chicken, steak, and asparagus he grilled and mashed potatoes I mashed), I loaded the kids up for another late evening walk. We set out in the wagon a bit later than we did for our walk earlier this week, so we went straight for the playground by our house. And, for all the complaining I am bound to do about Arizona both during our legislative session and during the broiling hot summer to come, I feel the need to brag a bit.

One of our neighbors has their yard lined in these cacti, and this time of year they are alive with blooms the color of an Arizona sunset. We stop every time we walk by so Luca can talk about the flowers and Rohan can repeat, "Pretty! Look, Mama! Pretty!!!" I'm basically in love with these flowers.

This is the view of the sunset from our 'park with the green slides'.

We spent some time sliding and then running back up the slide (Luca), and jumping from any surface we were allowed to jump from (Rohan) and spinning around in circles enjoying the beauty of a later afternoon in April in Arizona.

And then we came home, once the sun had set so far below the horizon that we couldn't see where our shoes had migrated to by the slides. And when Darrick came home with ice cream, the kids about died of excitement. Rohan jumped off the couch and I heard him opening drawers in the kitchen. Knowing he can't reach the spoons, I asked him to show me what he had. He may not look much like me, but when little dude chooses a spoon almost as big as his feet for his ice cream enjoyment, I am reminded he's so much like me.

Luca decided she needed a giant spoon as well.

I was tempted to let them use these spoons, except we weren't planning to serve ice cream in a punch bowl.

It was a great night, and was capped off with Luca making some new friends at the park. I'm so proud of her as I've seen her flourish in the past year since starting preschool. I was so nervous back then, that she would be swallowed whole and too timid to talk and make friends. Instead, she's become brave and sure, making friends everywhere she goes. When another family showed up at the park just before sunset, she went right over to the 4 year old girl and her dad and said hi, and spent 20 minutes playing with her. At the end of the night, she asked me if her new friend can come play sometime. I followed her lead and broke out of my shell to ask the parents when they'd be back at the park, and we have an unofficial 'playdate' set for later this week!

This wasn't the first time I felt that swell of pride over Luca's new found confidence and its marriage to her empathy. In ballet earlier this week, as I stood outside the window watching and waiting for class to start, I noticed one girl clinging to her dad's leg as he juggled a little brother in his arms. She would cry desperately every time her dad made a move for the door, and I could see the parental embarassment and uncertainty in his eyes. Were the moms all judging him for his kid being clingy? If he walked out and left her sobbing, would we think him an unfit dad and wonder why the mom wasn't there, sure she would have handled it better? Or maybe, I'm sure he thought, he could scoop up his scared baby girl in his arms and rush her home, feed her ice cream for dinner, and settle into Dora reruns just so he could watch a smile light her face.

Luca was standing against the far wall, in the spot the kids are told to wait until class begins. I saw her, chewing a nail and watching the same scene I watched. And then she came to the door and poked her head out for me. A few whispers later, she turned, walked over to the girl, and said a timid, "Hi." The girl stopped crying and gave a little wave. "I'm Luca," she told her, "Wanna be my friend?" I saw the dad lean down to whisper in his daughter's ear and then I saw the girl take one wary step and then another, until she was closer to Luca than to her dad. Luca grabbed her hand, and together they walked to the wall to stand in line.

When her dad came out of the room, he stood next to me, and said just one thing, "Thanks." And I told him I was happy Luca had a new friend. We've all been there, after all, and I was so proud of my little sprite for being the one to make it easier for someone else.

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