Thursday, July 16, 2009

Family Rituals: The Daddy Walk

"What is the Daddy Walk," asked our new neighbor, his curiosity piqued by the girls' incessant wheedling.

"Is it time?" They beg before dashing back to their friend's sandbox. "Can we go, yet?" They plead before pushing their friend's pink barbie scooter in another circle around the driveway.

Like all great rituals, The Daddy Walk was born of necessity, though I didn't explain that to the neighbor. When the timing works out, Joe hops on a bus just a block down the street. The Daddy Walk is our rush to meet Daddy at the stop with as much fanfare and cheer as he can stand.

Our new neighbor seemed a little baffled, even as he scooted his own brood into the house for dinner. Admittedly, we were making a chaotic spectacle of our departure. I strapped bike helmets on both girls, got them on their bikes, and then realized the stove was still on... with a gas range that is literally playing with fire, even if we're only going a block. After a couple of quick trips in and out, (drink of water for one, kleenex for the other's runny nose) we're finally off.

Maya is perfecting her bike skills, cautious as ever and more than a little afraid of inclines of any kind. Elliot, thinking Maya is just the coolest, insists on riding her own bike, though her legs aren't quite long enough to push the peddles.

As usual, we time our disorganized effort perfectly. We reach the corner just as the most exciting city bus in the metro pulls up to the stop. Both girls cheer as it drives off, and mimic daddy's wild waves as he crosses the street to them.

Can you guess what necessity prompted such a lovely welcome home, this ritual that our little family indulges in several times a week?

That's right... The Witching Hour, as my Great-Grandma Alice called it. That insufferable hour just before dinner when the kids are squirrelly and no matter how wonderful our day has been, it all begins to unravel. I begin to stare out the window with the girls, hoping to will daddy home so he can whisk them away, and I can make dinner in peace, preferably with a glass of wine. One particularly exhausting day, I just couldn't wait the extra 5 minutes, and The Daddy Walk was born... I didn't know it at the time, but it was definitely a happy accident!

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