The First of the Christmas Crowds

Madison and I had the rare opportunity for a father/daughter date night because Lynnette attended a show with some of her friends. Something about the sound which accompanies lightning when it originates in Australia.

Mad and I left the house at 5:15 thinking we’d make it to the Kroc Center with plenty of time before the 6:00 PM kick off. So did a lot of other families, apparently. By the time we got there, the parking lot was maxed out and we were led to a grass lot adjacent to the center. I darted to the waiver table to acquire wristbands, then dragged Madison to the line for snow play fast passes. It was only 5:45, but the fast passes we got were scheduled for 6:40. As we stood in that line, I heard someone say the word “horse.” I bent my neck and could faintly make out horses in the distance. As soon as we got our snow play fast passes, we briskly walked to the horse ride area. We got fast passes for 7:45. It wasn’t even 6:00 yet. Consequently, the bulk of our night was spent killing time between these two major events.

I know you're wondering and the answer is yes. Of course I Grrrrrrdddddttttttt!!!ed her as she was pulling a piece of wood.

I know you’re wondering and the answer is yes. Of course I Grrrrrrdddddttttttt!!!ed her as she was pulling a piece of wood.

The first game we played together was giant Jenga. It was exactly what it sounds like. Madison had a little trouble with the game because moving the pieces required much more strength than the real version, but she was afraid to pull too hard, lest the tower come tumbling down. That, however, wasn’t a problem because volunteers from the Damien Key Club were running the game. Of the three students there, two were Honors students of mine. When I (that’s right, Madison won!) knocked the tower over, Madison scrambled to help pick the blocks up but I stopped her. “No, no, Mad, they got it,” I said, pointing to my students. One of them looked up at me. “That’s what they’re there for,” I continued. He smirked and shook his head while he piled unfinished pieces of wood. I did everything short of giggle gleefully. Another Damien student read a story to Madison in the storytelling corner of the area. All jokes aside, I’d like to thank the Damien Key Club for its service last night. You all represented us very well.

"Mega-Evolve, Dad!"

“Mega-Evolve, Dad!”

The only craft we participated in last night was the making of a bracelet. As I am a practical man, I was not interested in building anything which would have required me to become a porter for the rest of the night. The camera requires two hands for effective and efficient use, so I made a call: no gingerbread, no ornaments. Anyway, Madison strung a few beads together and when it came time for me to tie it, well, let’s just say things didn’t go smoothly. First, I couldn’t figure out a way to tie it so that it would stay on her wrist but also come off without having to be cut. When I finally realized I lacked the skill or know-how to do that, I accepted the fact that I would simply have to tie the ends into a knot. I use the word “simply” there for the effect of irony. My stubby fingers struggled to work the small piece of twine into itself twice. I don’t know what was more amazing – the fact that I finally got the bracelet on Mad’s wrist at all or that I didn’t swear at any point during the process. The frustration was worth it, I suppose, because as soon as the bracelet was secured on her wrist, Madison bent her arm as pictured and said “This is my mega-evolution bracelet!” and tapped it with her fingers. Lynnette and I have had serious talks about changing Madison’s middle name to “Pokemon.”

Slush party.

Slush party.

I don’t know if they didn’t get enough ice or if the ice was dropped off too early, but the ice play area last night was sub-standard. Obviously, the local temperatures are going to play a part in quickly melting down the ice, but none of the other snow play events we’ve taken Mad to here have looked this bad. By the time we got to the ice, the asphalt was showing through the snow. Perhaps they laid out the snow over too great a surface and should have condensed it so as to have less of the ice exposed to the ground and air. I don’t know. But Madison enjoyed her ten minutes. She took her time to make a ball of ice, then coyly said “Dad, put your camera away. I don’t want you to take any more pictures.” She tried so hard to keep a straight face. Madison, I know this is difficult for you to believe, but Daddy is a dummy, he’s not stupid.

Wanted - WANTED! - dead or aliiiiiiiiiiive!

Wanted – WANTED! – dead or aliiiiiiiiiiive!

The unequivocal highlight of the night was the horse ride. There were three of different sizes – a large one that required the use of a step stool to mount, a noticeably smaller one with a light coat, and a tiny pony. Guess which one Mad wanted to ride? That’s riiiight! “I’m the smallest one, so I should pick the smallest one,” she said, ironically using goat logic to pick a horse. It used to be that Madison would try very hard to stay austere in high-adrenaline moments. It was as if she could feel the excitement coursing through her, and her first instinct was to bury it. She’s shifted the other way. Like her father, she mostly wears her heart on her sleeve and has no problem emoting. When I lifted the camera to take a picture of her, she looked at me with a huge smile, took her hands off the saddle, made a heart with her hands, then did the thing where she mimed the heat jumping out of her chest like her favorite Pokemon Oshawott. I had to tell her to hold on.

Very early on in Madison’s life, Lynnette began ending each day with a question to Mad: What was your favorite part of the day? Mad said the horse ride was her favorite part. This question, though, has become so ingrained in Madison that she often asks the same of us. When Madison asked me last night, I agreed with her. What I really wanted to say, though, was all of it. Seeing Mad’s face light up will always be worth the 25 minutes of her asking me “Is it our turn yet?”

Have a safe and happy Christmas season, everyone. I wish you all the best. Most of all, I wish you convenient parking at the shopping area of your choice.

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