There was a bonus “Connecting Moment” after our recent deluge where the “walls” abruptly came down and everyone suddenly said “Good morning” to me during my postponed “Thursday Walk” the subsequent Friday.
I spoke before of a “universal bonding.” And I mean without exception. A walked puppy signaled, “Had I the Power of Speech, you’d have received a cheerful ‘Good morning’ from me as well. But check out my articulate dog-thoughts, communicated only via a look.”
Beyond that surprise thawing exuberance, however, there was this other fragmentary moment, supplementing my “Post-Downpour Experience.”
Here’s what happened.
As I proceed home, carrying my “double-cupped” Groundwork “Venice Blend” pour-over, I spot a young mother accompanying her pre-school-aged son, heading in my direction. And when I see what they’re up to, I know exactly what’s going on.
The previous rainstorm had left some sizable puddles dotting the sidewalk. Walking to pre-school, the mother, clasping his hand, had deliberately slowed down, so her son could enjoy the exquisite – and, in Los Angeles, rare – pleasure of sloshing noisily through those gathering puddles.
As I walk towards them, the mother and I exchange knowing looks, my look saying, “I’ve been there”, her return look saying, “It’s fun being a parent.”
We then move off in opposite directions. But not before that identifying interlude revived a long-ago parallel experience, involving my, then, same-aged daughter Anna.
Having driven 3 year-old Anna to her nearby pre-school, I park the car at a pharmacy parking lot across the street. Unbuckling her and helping her out of the car, we walk hand-in-hand towards the awaiting pre-school.
As we proceed, I note our traversing parking lot is liberally puddled, due to a powerful rainstorm the night before. (It rained a lot more here back then.) At that point, I insistently feel “The Call.”
It is time for my my daughter’s initiation into the traditional “Rain-Puddle Rite of Passage.”
It is a “Dad’s Duty.” And I’d be darned if I negligently fell down on the job.
“Anna,” I inquire, applying no pressure in either direction. “Would you like you walk in the puddles?”
“Can I, Daddy?”
“You bet. You see a big puddle? It’s a ‘Kid’s Job’ to walk in it.”
Eager to engage in this bold, somewhat renegade experience, Anna clomps in her bright yellow rain boots towards the nearest rain-bequeathed puddle, splashingly entering its watery terrain.
I am not sure why, but I found myself walking a little ahead of her. Maybe because pre-school was imminently about to begin. Maybe because I was an adult and naturally took bigger steps. Maybe because I was a Dad and therefore oblivious to… everything. *
(* I made sure there were no endangering cars around, so I am not a complete idiot.)
At the time, however, I think my conscious intention was, “Let her enjoy this joyful experience alone.”
That’s what Iwould have wanted, so that’s what I allowed her.
An unfettered 3 year-old “Splash-athon.”
That mother, holding her son’s hand, apparently fearing some puddle-borne riptide, was, to me spoiling the adventure. At least that’s what I thirty years earlier believed.
As we continue along, I hear a familiar confused-with-a-touch-of-alarm-sounding voice breaking the early day silence.
I immediately turn around…
And there’s Anna, frozen in a deeper than anticipated puddle-in-the-parking lot, the accumulated water substantially topping her now submerged bright yellow rain-boots.
I immediately race over, scoop her up and carry her back to the car, where I remove her water-filled boots and puddle-drenched leggings. I then start the car, driving home for replacement clothing, before returning a cleaned-up Anna, somewhat belatedly, to pre-school.
I may have laughed at this harmless yet harrowing incident, but hopefully, just to myself. Though Anna was more startled than distraught, I did not think it the right moment for learning the tickling pleasures of physical comedy.
You know, it isfun being a parent.
Even when the consequences require a sudden emergency change of wardrobe.
Hopefully, when the girl’s Mom’s not around, and she never finds out.