We were very near our collective wit's end.
We'd spent a full day together in the car—my wife, my kid, and I—driving from our home outside of Ottawa to the suburban Philadelphia area. This was followed by sharing two nights in a small hotel room and nearly two full days together at an amusement park. It was a great trip, to be sure, but close quarters like this tend to grate on any family, I think.
So while we were having an amazing time most of the time, moments of annoyance and frustration were bubbling to the surface. The kid was a little less patient with everything and I was a little less patient with her as a result.
It was when we were sitting in the audience in a little amphitheater tucked away in one corner of the amusement park, the kid visibly angry because some adults got to be part of the show but she did not, that we reached peak annoyance. The kid, annoyed that she wasn't getting her way; me, annoyed that her annoyance was preventing her from enjoying a show she should otherwise love; my wife, annoyed at me for being annoyed at her.
I ended up walking away a bit to calm myself down. The show finished and we reconvened as a family to discuss our next move.
"Do you want to stay for the parade before we go back to the hotel?" my wife asked the kid.
"Yes please," she replied.
I was annoyed but didn't say so. We'd watched the parade the day before, I knew it was going to be the same show. I'd enjoyed our time at the park immensely, mostly, but I was ready to call it a day. But the more time we spent in the open air of the park, the less time we spent cooped up in the hotel or some restaurant. I offered to stroll up to get us popcorn and get away from the madness for a few minutes, then we settled down together and waited for the parade.
The parade is broken up by three song and dance performances along the route. During the second of the three numbers, a few kids get plucked from the audience to participate. On the first day, the kids chosen were quite near us and the kid was upset that she wasn't one of the lucky ones. On the second day, I realized we were too far down the route—the performers weren't close enough to us and I figured we were in for another pouting fit.
But, as luck would have it, the kids that the performer invited weren't particularly keen to participate. And while she stood there trying to coax them in, my daughter jumped to her feet and, with mom's approval, ran the 15 feet or so to the performer and started dancing beside her.
She twirled and spun and jumped, thrilled to be part of the show. The performer danced right along side her, the two of them spinning and twirling away while the music played. After a few minutes, the performer took note of my kid's patented spinning kick move and asked her to teach it to her, giving yet another thrill to a kid who was already having the time of her life.
The song ended and my daughter ran back to us, beaming with pride, and red-faced with exhaustion.
"Kiddo, you were in the parade! That was amazing!"
"Yea, it was!"
"And did that lady ask you to teach her your dance move?"
"Yea, it's a good move, Daddy."
A good move indeed, kiddo. A good move indeed.
If you liked this, you might also like "The Five Stages of Bedtime Grief" and "In Praise Of Stories: The Adventures Of Harold And Harriet."