My Father, The Hero

I contribute to a site called Mom's Best, a lovely collection of goodness by women that I want to be just like when I grow up. (I don't really know why I am included in their exalted ranks. I am just going to take that piece of good fortune and run with it.) This essay ran in their Father's Day Guide this summer. The guide was so on target that of the last five treats I have gotten my husband, three were directly inspired by it. Lucky guy.

Jurassic Park was released in theaters June 9, 1993. It was a dinosaur dystopia groundbreaking blockbuster. In dark movie theaters across the world, grown men and women gasped and jumped and felt like they had really, truly seen a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Every single friend I had went to see it opening weekend. The following Monday, school was full of boys who roared and girls who told stories about "the scariest but best part! When the kids are in the kitchen and the dinosaurs are like in there, too. And I was so scared but it was so good and then a spoon falls and the dinosaurs hear and then, well man. You just have to see it."

But I couldn't. In the summer of 1993 I was only eight years old. And eight year old me was not allowed to see PG-13 movies. My parents explained that they were protecting me, there are simply some things a little girl shouldn't see. I understood their point. Watching a 65 million year old creature rip a man limb from limb was surely a grown up affair. But I was so mature (not really)! I could read at a twelfth grade level (true)! I hardly ever cried anymore (not true)! Didn't they know I was ready? Please, oh please, oh please. I included it in my prayers every night that week. Because surely God understood the pain of being the only third grader that hadn't seen a summer blockbuster.

Surely.

Saturday morning, my sisters and I all crawled into bed with my parents and wedged ourselves between them. My dad looked at me and then at my mom, "Well Honey, What do you think? Should I take her?" She looked confused. I sat up. What was going on here?

"You know," he nodded his head toward me, "take her. To..." And then he moved his hand across the landscape of the bed, extended his index finger and roared. I jumped up.

"Oh, Mom! Mom! Do you get it? His hand is a dinosaur! He means the movie! Can he take me to Jurassic Park? That's what you mean right, Dad? Right? Oh, Mom. CAN HE?"

She smiled and because moms can be just the best thing that ever happened to an 8 year old girl, she said yes.

So we went. I felt so proud riding in the front seat next to my dad. We bought our tickets and waited in the concession line. That lovely man let me get whatever I wanted. He carried the Sprite and Reese's pieces and I carried a popcorn as big as me. I still remember walking down the hall to the theater. The red carpet was stained and the walls needed to be painted. It didn't matter. I was holding hands with a figure of mythical proportions. Hercules had nothing on my Dad. He was a man that knew all the answers and fixed every hurt. There was nothing in this wide world that he couldn't do. I didn't know he was just a kid himself. Could not picture him up at night, head in his hands and uncertain of the next months paycheck. Would not have believed that he had questions without answers. No, this was the man that kept me safe and made me smile. Nothing could touch him.

We settled into our seats in the theater, my feet not quite touching the ground. The movie started and I screamed and dropped the popcorn within the first three minutes. After that my dad put his hands over my eyes whenever the dinosaurs got a little unruly. I smiled in the dark.

Nineteen years later, I got my three year old ready for her first trip to the movies with Daddy. They were off to see The Muppet Movie, and while there was much less blood than in Jurassic Park, the excitement was the same. She fidgeted into her sweater and tried to run out the door without shoes twice. I finally sent the two of them off on their date and started cleaning the kitchen. Somewhere between mopping the floor and doing the dishes, I thought about them walking down the hallway of that movie theater. My little Margaret holding her Daddy's hand and a bag of candy as big as she is. That man is everything to her. He knows all the answers and fixes every hurt. She doesn't know that he is just a twenty-seven year old kid. She cannot picture him staying up late at night uncertain of the future. She would not believe that he has any questions without answers. Nothing can touch him.

I knew that when they settled into their seats her face would already be covered with chocolate and that her pink shoes would be swinging high above the floor.

And I knew she would be smiling in the dark.

Mom's Best is debuting their Fall Guide in the next few days and I can promise it is going to rock your socks off. Until then, here are a few of my Mom's Best favorites RIGHT NOW.

Children's Nighttime Drawing Journal

Balloon Tassels and Fringe DIY

A Happy Sixth Lego Party