Sunday, January 31, 2010

where she's been

her tiny, tired legs struggled to carry her body over the snowy sidewalk. we had already lagged far behind the rest of our sledding party, and i could see the house--our destination--from where we were, but our pace promised that we would not be there soon.

"i just wish i could walk faster. i hate being so small." the laments of a five year-old always seem a bit ridiculous from the perspective of an adult. of course, she wont be small forever and soon she'll be able to walk just as fast as she pleases but, if i remember anything about being a child, promises of the future are seldom comforting.

"you're not small! you're just a perfect five year-old who is a perfect five year-old size. look, i can see the house! we're almost there!"

my fake enthusiasm had little effect as far as lifting her spirits, but she did lift her body and begin to trudge, very slowly.

i knew that she just wanted to be back at the house - warm and dry with hot chocolate to end an afternoon of sledding. i wanted that too.

her current mood was starkly contrasted by her demeanor earlier in the day as we walked that same sidewalk, in the other direction. she had never been sledding before and was bursting with excitement from the moment we left the house. she skipped down the street:

"this is the best day ever! i love this day!" she repeated, over and over again. the little north carolinian-born girl had seldom seen snow, and maybe had never seen this much. i certainly hadn't ever seen that much in the south--8 inches or so.

but, all of this was forgotten now. her small stride had stolen her joy.

for a minute or two, i began thinking about other things, and slowly widened the space between us.

that was, until i heard "wait up!" from behind.

i turned around and saw her walking toward me. she was not walking on the sidewalk. she was walking where the grass would be, if it weren't for the deep snow. i was slightly irritated.

"why don't you walk on the sidewalk? it'll be easier because there's not as much snow!" i coaxed her, not understanding why, in all of her frustration and weariness, she would choose the most difficult path.

"i like it! i like to make tracks!" she responded, as if i should have known.

i couldn't help but laugh and i certainly couldn't argue. of course she wanted to make tracks. and she will continue to want to make tracks. she will continue, i hope, to walk in the deep snow, even though it's harder, just so she can see, and everyone else can see, where she's been.

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