“It’s Okay To Lick Dinosaurs.”
One of the things that I love about my girls is their understanding of the world. Everything is so matter of fact. “Daddy, you like to drink beer because you’re an adult.” or “daddy, Maggie licks her butt because she is a dog!”. They love to state the obvious with a sense of excitement. That enthusiasm for the ordinary will one day fade as they get older and then one day…. Poof! It’s gone.
I had a moment where I got to see my daughter grow up right before my eyes. Let me backup a bit….
I was supposed to take my daughters to a daddy daughter dance. The snow storm ended up canceling the dance and so I decided to take them on a different date. They still dressed up in their new pink Valentines Day dresses and I wore a matching pink button up and blue blazer to play the part.
Thanks to my friend Shawna’s suggestion. We decided on the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. They had a Pixar exhibit I heard a lot of good things about and I’ve always wanted to see the dinosaur fossils.
We pulled up to the east side of City Park on a stunningly clear, late afternoon. The sun sparkled off the fresh snow from the prior days storm. The blanketed park was pristine and calm. You could sense the light layer of the sun’s heat pressing gently on the sea of snow; softening it just so slightly. Clare in her 6 year old view of the world states, “I never thought I would get to walk in an actual-perfect-winter-wonderland!”. My heart melted with the snow.
We could look across the frozen lake to the Pavilion where we spend our Sunday nights in the Summer listening to City Park Jazz. The familiarity and the association we already have with the park gave me a sense of peace. Not only am I home. But we are home. Our family is building memories as we speak that will one day be past times and family traditions.
The museum was a perfect idea. A great spot for a grown up date and even better for us. We entered with the raucous crowd of families. As they piled their jackets on me in demanding fashion, I asked Clare, “Clare, don’t you like dinosaurs? Should we go to the Dinosaur exhibit?” She jumped up and down in excitement. “Yes, yes, yes!”
Afterwards we meandered through the different halls. I loved watching the girls run from wall to wall, artifact to artifact and display to display. Their excitement was infections and I could feel the learning taking place with every excited question.
“Daddy, how long is that mummy dead?”
After the planetarium showing on black holes we strolled around the Space Odyssey exhibit. Me genuinely interested in space and the universe, Sarah running to anything that was shiny or flashing and Clare dancing and twirling in her new pink dress as she stepped along the reflections of the rotating lights shuffling on the floor.
There she was, so little and innocent. Dancing delicately in the midst of the display of some of sciences most impressive accomplishments. Her pigtails bouncing and the sweetest smile across her face. I’ll never forget that moment seeing her across the room in her 6 year old joy, tender and lovely
Fast forward an hour later. We’ve made it to a great local Italian restaurant without any incidents despite the tired eyes and increasingly whiny attitudes. I know that the girls are getting tired.
They get their mac n cheese and I’m inclined to start peppering them with questions about the museum. I want to know everything they are thinking. But I realize they’ll shut down if I do; much like when I ask them about their day when I pick them up from school… “um I don’t know” or my favorite, “I forgot”.
So I just listened. I let the two of them talk. With Sarah to my left, I got to see Clare directly across from me. It was almost like the two of them forgot I was there. I got to be a fly on the wall. I loved it. Hearing Clare ask her sister questions and watching her as her mannerisms and body language mimicked a young lady. I was captivated by her every move and word and could see the little woman in her.
My heart was leaping and terrified at the same time. I could see the thin layer of little girl slowly peeling away. She of course is still my little girl but the glimmer of years to come reminded me of how precious my time with her is.
One day, it will be the last day I do something for or with my daughters. One day it will be the last day I ever tuck them into bed. The last time I ever tie their shoe. The last time they cry for me in the night and run to my bed. When that day comes and goes I will be looking back on it, desperate to have it one more time.
I try to savor the little things. Sarah puts her shoes on the wrong feet almost every day. It drives me nuts and it’s adorable at the same time. I stopped correcting it because I realized that it was a snapshot of her innocence.
I take candid videos of them when they aren’t looking because they become self conscious when the camera is around and stop. But I want to capture those moments to keep for later. Little trinkets go in a box and pictures go on the fridge when they have meaning.
One of those pictures is one Clare brought home one day that she drew for me. It says “it’s okay to lick dinsors.” with her standing next to a pink and green pair. I opened it up and started to lose it when I read it. I had no idea what it meant and all I could do was laugh.
I asked her what it meant and she said, “you know because it’s okay like dinosaurs”. It didn’t click for me and I replied, “of course you can like dinosaurs. Who told you that you couldn’t like dinosaurs?”. She says, “Oh no one. I just decided it was okay to like them.” I recognized the spelling error but now realized something else. It made me proud to see her recognize a self evident truth and then take action and let the world know.
Little did she know, she was growing up right before my eyes. Luckily for me, that time I got to keep a real life snapshot.
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