Today was a perfect fall day. I picked up my niece after her soccer game and brought her and her friend out for ice cream and gave her a birthday present. (she just turned 11. and she's taller than me, which she berates me about as only an 11 year old can)
Many years ago, I was spending Christmas with some friends of mine, and one of them got every one of their male friends duct tape for a present. I berated him as only a drunk friend from the same hometown can that he pulled a great cop out. "Duct tape is the dumbest present I've ever heard of!"
Fast forward to November 2012: I gave my niece a bag full of duct tape for her 11th birthday. She's one of those kids who makes things out of duct tape. She makes flowers and wallets and cell phone cases and ipod covers and bags and clothes for her Monster High dolls. "Their outfits are inappropriate," she says. "I don't want them to get sent home from school because their skirts are too short." Then she makes them leopard print duct tape leggings. Now she has enough material to outfit the entire Monster High student body.
This afternoon, we all sat at a picnic table in the sun eating ice cream. At the next table was a girl, around 12 or 13, having an ice cream with her dad. She was wearing a medal around her neck from synchronized skating. I felt so happy just then, remembering the times when my dad would take me out for ice cream after I did well in gymnastics or scored a goal in soccer.
Every time, he would encourage me to get something I had never had before. Sometimes it would be fantastic. Sometimes, not so much. But always, it was a new experience. Something as simple as going out for an ice cream turned into a lesson in expanding my horizons and a little puzzle piece that would form a picture of the person I was to become. I hoped the girl a the next table had a dad as great as mine.
My dad is out on storm duty right now, trying to get the power back up and running for people in Pennsylvania. He's still teaching me things.
My niece said she's going to make him something out of the duct tape.
My Dad (of course)