/> Raising Angels: Strawberry Pigtails Forever

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Strawberry Pigtails Forever

Last night during mass, the deacon reminded us what a gift it is to come to church. Before mass starts, we are asked to turn off all electronic devices. “For one whole hour, you get to turn the world off,” he explained. “For one hour, we get to leave it all behind and concentrate on Jesus. Let’s do that now for just a moment. Close your eyes and just take it all in.” The church was silent for one glorious moment. I breathed deeply and sucked it in – the quiet, the peace, the contentment.  

After mass, we met some family members at a restaurant Aiden requested for his birthday dinner. It was 6:30 on a Saturday night and the wait was over an hour. Although it was hot, no one was bothered. I took the kids to peruse the gift shop and then met everyone at the outdoor bar. Felicity had been sitting in the lap of Nelson’s aunt, but by the time I reached her, she was done. It had been a long car ride followed by mass and she was ready to move.

I excused myself from the group to take her for a walk and noticed that the music we had been listening to was live. We meandered through the tables and found a nice open spot right in front of the musician. Felicity is my music lover. She starts dancing when she hears anything with a beat, and at her age, being in front of a multitude of strangers didn’t hinder her at all.

He was singing “Strawberry Fields Forever” and she was dipping, swaying, and rocking to the beat with total abandon. She threw both arms up in the air and spun around. She took a few steps forward, and then back, and repeated in time with the music. She ran from one end of the boardwalk to the other trying out new moves grinning from ear to ear. She was the only one dancing and instantly the center of attention. Before long she was standing at the foot of the stage staring up into the singer's eyes, smiling and bopping up and down. Honestly, he had a hard time singing though his own giggles. She made such an impression that the next time the chorus came around, he was singing, “Strawberry pigtails forever.”

It was precious to watch. I wanted to take out my phone and record the whole thing. Really, it was so stinking cute; if you got to see her, you would have seen why he chose his next song and dedicated it to her. I thought about taking out that phone and then the deacon’s words came back to me. “You get to leave the world behind.”

I knew that if I got my phone out, I would miss the moment while trying to record it. Don’t get me wrong, I am the record keeper for the family. I record most every moment. But watching the moment through the tiny screen doesn’t allow you to experience the moment.

I made a simple decision standing next to a palm tree growing through the boardwalk in front of that tiny stage. I decided to enjoy the moment instead of recording it. I watched my baby revel in the rhythm of the music. I watched the unadulterated joy exude from her entire being. At one point she bent in half and placed both hands on the ground while extending one leg in the air behind her. On the next beat, she stood and kicked that same leg up in the air. It was an amazing move for a 20 month old and I was in awe. She didn’t care what anyone thought, she found the beat and let it move her. When people were walking past or trying to get around her, it didn’t encumber her moves at all. “Let them walk around,” she must have been thinking. “I’m dancing!”

There wasn’t one person who encountered this little redheaded, pig-tailed beauty with a knockout smile, gigantic dimples, and squeezable chubbiness, who didn’t smile right back at her. Her joy was contagious. And I stood there with a smile bigger than hers and took it all in. So many times in the drudgery of daily life, I forget how much fun it is to have this unexpected toddler in my life. But last night, I drank it in and thanked God that this child is mine. There were no other kids around for me to keep an eye on. I didn’t get distracted trying to video or post something. It was just me, watching her, enjoying the pure happiness of the moment.

It was a good decision I plan on making more often.


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