“Did you see her behind the tree?”
“Yes. Of course I saw her. I wanted her to think I didn’t.”
My eight-year-old was mad at her daddy. So mad, in fact, that she marched half-way around the lake where we were fishing and parked herself alone on a bench to cry. She had lost her shoe in a patch of mud and her father had made her walk back through the mud to get it.
She cleaned her shoe, cleaned her feet as best she could, and then, ran away crying. With the help of mom’s keen eye and persuasive encouragement, Daddy realized he had better set the poles down and attempt to reel in a somewhat bigger fish.
He walked towards her as she yelled, “Leave me alone! I just want to be alone!”
The closer he got, the more she cried. Finally, she began to run again. She ran away and hid behind a tree. He walked past, still pretending to search for her. He turned around and ran straight for the tree. She took off, but knew she could not outrun her daddy. She laid down on the ground and cried as he stood over her and began explaining and apologizing for her latest mistake.
As we got into the car she said, still sobbing, “I just want to go home!”
“Because my feet are dirty. I put my feet in that mud and now I can’t go anywhere that’s clean.”
“Daddy is sorry this happened to you.”
“No, he’s not!”
“Yes, he is. Your feet are fine. We’re going to play outside anyway. Don’t worry, everyone’s feet will be dirty by the end of the day.”
She played until dark with a dozen shoe-less children outside in the yard.
I’ve always called her her father’s daughter. That, she certainly is, but this day, perhaps, she has personified her mother most closely.
Or, maybe we all get a little frustrated when we step into places we know we ought not. Maybe we all blame our father when he inevitably sends us back into those places to retrieve what we’ve lost. Maybe we all run away when we’re angry and hide when we’re hurt. Maybe we all just want to go home when we feel dirty and uninvited. Or maybe it’s just me…and Mia.
Either way, she taught me, once again, some profound lessons about myself and about life yesterday.
My father, God, always sees me. He’s willing to watch me get dirty if I need to learn something important. He won’t ever leave me alone no matter how much I yell at him to do just that. He is sorry for all my pain and loss. I do not have to worry about being imperfect no matter where I have to go. Everyone I will ever meet is just as unclean as I am at the end of the end. Daddy loves us anyway.
So, who wants to go home when we’ve got the rest of the day to play outside? Last one to the field is a rotten egg.