This week, well, one day this week that is, my offspring needed to miss a morning of school for a very important appointment. An appointment I am not at liberty to discuss but one that I am both proud and envious of at the same time. Also, I’m not at liberty to discuss here on an open forum. Regardless, I saw no fault or issue with her reason to miss half a day of high school.
She knew that when she made this appointment that she would have to come to work with me and I leave for work around six in the morning. Which means she would have to get up by 5:30. A time most sixteen year olds have no idea or concept of. However; my child is a bit different, she has no problem getting up before the sun and getting ready to face the day. That is, as long as it is a weekday and not in the summer time.
By 6:15 we had arrived at my work and she readily agreed to follow me and help out with the set up and checking of each and every exhibit in the museum. The first stop, well, my first stop, is always the bubble room. Simply because it requires no electricity and I don’t have to turn everything on to get this room prepared for a day of small children and their escorts.
As I went about the set-up of the room, filling the bubble tables, the step-in a bubbles and the stretch a bubble table, she took all the bubble wands and tubes and placed them in their respective places. I began to make bubble solution, a task that is done at least once a day. We even have a special closet in which to perform this task.
As the water filled the bucket in which we make the bubble solution the sound from the bubble room was drowned out by the sound of the water. So I turned and poked my head out the door to check on my daughter. She was standing by the bubble table, in one hand a bubble tube and she was blowing through it. A large bubble appeared at the end of the tube and she pulled it away from her face. She held it out in front of her at arm’s length and a large, innocent and joyful smile filled her face and eyes. She set the tube down and picked up a wand and began to wave it in the air, soon the air around her head and body were surrounded by floating, viscous orbs and the stark, florescent lights from above cast beams in the air around her. Her impossible smile grew even larger and she began to twirl inside the safety of the fragile, floating orbs. She was completely oblivious to my actions of watching her and the joy she was bringing me.
That moment sent my mind spinning back in time. To a time almost ten years ago, a time when the museum was kicking off its Capital Campaign for fund raising to upgrade the museum and its exhibits.
Part of the Capital Campaign was to film a video of children enjoying the museum and its exhibits. The initial video ran ten minutes and parts of it was used to build a thirty second commercial. I was asked if my daughter would be interested in being one of the children. I knew she wouldn’t mind and I quickly accepted the offer on her behalf. When I got home that night, I asked her and she did not disappoint me.
When the day of filming came, she was eager, excited and ready to do whatever was asked. The crew doing the filming even made sure there were plenty of snacks for the kids to enjoy during their down time between takes. I was working that day and my daughter had been a staple in the museum for so long that she was perfectly comfortable to not have my full attention or the attention of other people as she went about her day of play and filming.
Weeks, maybe months later, when the final cut had been fully edited and approved, I was handed a dvd with the full ten minute fund raising video as well as the thirty second clip for television. I quickly took the disc to my office, plugged it into the machine and sat down to watch it and take joy in the fact that my child was on the television.
I sat in my chair, on the edge of my chair, my elbows on my knees and my eyes glued to the monitor so I wouldn’t miss a millisecond of my lovely kid on full digital, high quality film. I was disappointed. After nine minutes and thirty seconds I had seen every other kid who had been signed up to be in the video and not even a fraction of a second of air time for my child. I was getting ready to just eject the dvd and toss it in the trashcan when the bubble room footage appeared on screen.
I saw several children from the video front and center on the screen, yet in the background, I saw a small, almost frail looking blonde headed girl with a short page-boy haircut. My daughter. Finally! She was standing at one of the old bubble tables playing with a bubble wand. A large smile adorned her cherubic face. I felt pride swell in me. I didn’t care she wasn’t front and center, I didn’t care she hadn’t been in the rest of the film, I was just happy to see her in the background. Then the scene cut sharply and my daughters face filled the screen. In her hand, a bubble tube and she was blowing gently into it. A large bubble grew at the end of the tube and finally released itself into the air in front of her face. Her eyes grew wide and gently she reached out with her hand, closed all of her fingers except her pointer finger and she touched the bubble. It immediately popped and her smile was replaced with a look of pure, unadulterated joy and fascination. The video froze and did a slow fade out on my daughters face.
I was elated and exhausted. I slumped back in my chair and felt nothing but pride for my progeny.
Then the thirty second tv spot started. No surprise, my daughter was not featured in almost any of the film. Except at the end. Where she pops the bubble. The commercial closed on her just as it had in the ten minute spot. I couldn’t have been happier.
I must have watched the video a dozen times that day. Each time it ended, I felt the swelling of pride and joy.
So, ten years later, after so many heartbreaks, disappointments and growing pains in her life, to be given a chance to observe the untainted, unabashed and sheer joy of childhood fill her again and see the wonderment and amazement that water and soap concentrate can still bring into her life makes me feel like I may have done something right in my life. As if all the hard work, the missed performances, the endless aches and pains I put myself through in order for her to have a better and more secure life has been worth all those regrettable moments of failure I feel almost every day.
Yes, she has kept a sense of wonderment, yes, she still finds happiness in the little things in life, yes, she still dances and twirls when she thinks no one is watching, and most importantly, yes, she is still the greatest source of joy in my life and everything I have to suffer and endure has been worth it.
As an epilogue, I was busted. She saw me at the end of one of her twirls. She stopped and looked me right in the eyes, he smile never faded as she waved at me from behind the floating bubbles that seemed to be orbiting the being that has been the center of my life for sixteen years.
Have a great week. And if you have kids, go give them a great big hug.