Jed Reports: Hazel's Daddy Date
Hazel is nothing if not fair. She likes things to be neat, organized and fair. I think that’s why she’s so partial to routine; no surprises means no disparity. Consequently, when approaching her Daddy Date the day after Parley’s Date of the same variety, she was determined to maintain physical and emotional equity.
So we put dinner and a Slurpee on the schedule. And that’s where the similarities ended.
My daughter likes the outdoors. She’s always been happier playing by a river than in a Playland. We parked the car on the far side of Macey’s Grocery and walked along the Provo River, armed with a bag of old loaf heels in case we saw any ducks. We did, but they weren’t interested in the bread. Across the bank from her play we noticed the littered camp of a vagrant. She thought it looked like fun to camp by the river. When I explained that he probably lived there, I saw something flash in her eyes. The magic of the idea.
Hazel’s way of understanding of late is to break everything down; to trace every concept, every piece of every conversation back to its roots and see how it applies to her. You can almost see the graphs and maps appear over her head while she talks. Like the sentence diagrams your teacher wrote on the board in 4th grade, with their branches and tributaries that lead to heaven knows where. The thread of her thought is desperate to make connections, and you can watch the ease settle into her features as those connections are made.
On our walk to 7-11, I told her how me and Guido used to walk to get a Slurpee every day of the summer.
“And you still do?”
“And you like to get a Slurpee with me because they taste so good and you want me to like them too?”
She fixed her gaze on the Sev across the street. There was a new confidence in the way she set her shoulders. She flexed her grip on my hand and checked again to see if I was still wearing that pleased expression.
We walked back to the car along the river trail, her ruby red Slurpee a considerable distraction. She spotted a flat place along the bank where the tired sun was playing out its last colors in the shallows. She thought it looked really pretty. I told her it reminded me of Yellowstone.
“You bet I do.”
“What does that mean?”
“It just means that I do.”
“And you love things that remind you of Yellowstone, like the river and Bongo?”
“That’s right, Bongo does remind me of Yellowstone. All the mountains and bears.”
“And you used to watch Bongo all the time when you were just really little.”
“Yeah, I still like to watch it, huh?”
“Yeah, you like to watch it with me. And it reminds you of when you were little?”
“That’s right, baby.”
She studied me to see that her assertions landed. When they did, she took my hand again and led me back to the path.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.”