Friday, December 19, 2008
Audra is running. She is my sixteen month old daughter. On a snowy day my husband is home from work and after finishing errands we have stopped at a coffee shop I've driven by hundreds of times but never been to. We sip coffee in the corner of the cafe and Audra runs from our table to the end of the counter where we ordered. I'm not clear on whether this is a "kid friendly" place or not. There are no highchairs. It's an old school cafe with a chalkboard that informs what they have to offer, cheap coffee and characters like a bearded man who is coloring with crayons and a barista and her friend (apparently a former employee who just broke up with her boyfriend Skylar)who are talking so loud they force everyone to be a part of their conversation. I call Audra's name and she runs back to us with a smile then hugs my crossed legs. I hug her back and she runs away again. This time she gets past the counter and adds a table to her distance from us. My husband calls her name and she runs back to hug my knees and adds his knees to her affection. So far noone has complained and she has earned a few smiles from other patrons on her journey. The third time she travels past the counter, the table and almost into another part of the shop where we would lose sight of her. I get up and retrieve her. When she is back she hugs our knees once more. This time as I watch her leave us I realize we are metaphor. This is the parent-child relationship. With each hug she gains a security that enables her to travel further. My husband and I let her go but reign her back just in time. How many ways will we manifest this in the eighteen years that we raise her? How many times will we do it right and do it wrong? Someday we will have to let her travel out of our sight, won't we? I won't be able to pick her up and bring her back to us when she gets to the part of the cafe we cannot see. Hopefully we'll have given enough to sustain her by then and hopefully she'll occasionally run back.