My entire family (except for the adventuring Andrew) attended a retirement ceremony for my uncle Irving. He served in the Air Force and National Guard for a total of 31 years. It was one of the best events of its kind I have ever experienced. A close friend said a few words about my uncle. My uncle then received a few gifts. He was then allowed to say a few words. He spoke about his military experiences, but mostly thanked the people who are most important in his life. A few moments later, food and drink were had by all.
Usually, getting Madison to eat at events like these is difficult, but the moment I saw the huge platter of fruit salad, I knew we’d be good. Madison stood next to me and called out names of fruit for me to pluck from the table and place on her little plate. She had seconds, and in a dramatic turn of events, was finished eating before Lynnette and I were.
Madison got out of her seat and immediately started dancing. Since I am not a dancer myself, I have no idea what she might have been attempting, but I want to say that her moves appeared to reflect a kind of Spanish influence. It’s nice to know I’m paying for something with those dance classes.
Completely underrated yet totally appreciated aspect of family get-togethers: Tanya and Alana and Aunty Joy are amazing Madison-sitters. At some point during extended family time, Madison disappears with a member or members of my family, and Lynnette and I don’t think about her until it’s bathroom break time.
The pavilion where the ceremony was held was near the water so Madison and I took a little walk to look for fish and take a few pictures. It was sunny and muggy and wearing a long-sleeved shirt was the equivalent Ron Burgundy’s choice of milk. On our first trip out there – before the ceremony – we spotted a few yellow tangs and my dad pointed out a ray swimming near the surface. Madison saw the brown triangle with brown spots glide through the water and shouted “There it is!” I was so happy she saw it. There’s a kind of glee in her voice that comes only when she experiences the wonderfully unexpected. When we returned to Lynnette, Madison raved about the ray and Lynnette scrunched her nose in disbelief. She looked to me. “We really did see one,” I said. “Yeah, yeah!” Madison added.
So the second time we headed out to the shoreline, I figured we wouldn’t be able to top our “stinga-ray” sighting. I snapped a few more pictures. Madison and I sat on the low rock wall until we saw Lynnette headed our way. “Look who’s coming,” I said. Madison popped up. “Just wait,” I said. She didn’t listen. Instead, she jogged towards Lynnette. She was pretty close to Lynnette when she stopped dead in her tracks. “What?” I heard Lynnette shout. There was silence. “Oh no, Madison!” I heard Lynnette say. As they headed my way, I already knew what had happened because of the way Madison was walking. She had stepped into a puddle of mud.
But maybe Madison didn’t just step into the puddle. Maybe she jumped right into it. At the very least, she took a few steps into it because the backside of her skirt was covered with splotches of mud. “Why was she running?” Lynnette asked me. “She wanted to see you,” I said. “I told her to stay here and wait for you.” “Why didn’t you listen to daddy?” Lynnette asked Madison. Silence. “Let’s go, Mud Butt,” I said. “You, Mud Butt!” Madison shot back, probably stung by embarrassment. “Nope,” I said. She made her made face at me, but stopped talking. If you’re scoring at home, that’s a win.
I found a water hose near the pavilion and told Madison to take her sandals off. “They’re all muddy!” she protested. “No shit,” I said. Oops. “Take them off and I’ll wash your hands later.” She listened. I sprayed her feet down and ended up using my hands to wipe away most of the mud from her feet. I got water all over my shoes and the bottoms of my pant legs. Also, my hands were muddy. Some of it got under my fingernails. I hate that. “What are you going to do next time?” Lynnette asked Madison. Maybe she couldn’t hear Lynnette because of the running water, but I doubt it. “Mom’s asking you something,” I said to Madison. “Stay with dad!” Mad shouted. “That’s right!” I said. “If you had listened to me, I wouldn’t be scrubbing mud off of your sandals while wearing dress pants,” I said in a voice that feigned excitement. There is going to come a day when Madison discovers what sarcasm is. It’s going to be a turning point in our relationship.
Since we drove the Highlander to the ceremony, Madison had to cruise panties on the way home. “Beba-bebe-bebadeez,” I sang to the tune of that Coldplay song. “Stop that, dad!” Madison said. “Okay, Mud Butt,” I replied. I looked in the rear view just in time to see Mad’s scrunched-up nose and angry eyebrows fade from her face.