Dear E and Z,
One day last month our family took a hike in a nearby park. It was the first time in a long time we had taken you hiking and, Z, you were not too thrilled with the idea. I was worried about this little endeavor but I love hiking so much and hoped we could get you to enjoy it rather than complain the whole way.
Luckily, after initially wanting to be carried (E) and fearing bees and bears and poison ivy (Z), you got into it. Both of you ran down the muddy trail, squealing over bugs and picking up rocks that were definitely dinosaur bones.
We got all the way down to the river, where the mud had gone to business school and set up a LLC. In an instant, Z, you slipped and fell right on your bottom with a terrific muddy splat, flinging brown spots all over your legs, face, arms and your frilly black and white polka dot dress. (Yes, we tried to get you to hike in something else, you wouldn't have it. It was the frilly dress or nothing.) You burst into tears, wailing that you weren't pretty anymore.
Your dad. Oh your dad. He squatted down right in front of you, completely earnest and sincere. Scooping up mud with his fingers he proceeded to war-paint his own face. With the first stroke he said "Am I still beautiful to you, Z?" and you smiled through your tears and said "yes". At the second stroke- "How about now?"- you giggled a "yes" and the final stroke brought a raucous, hysterical "YES!".
He then looked deeply into your face and said "You are beautiful no matter what, no matter how much mud you have on you. In fact, I think you look more beautiful now, because you are real and outside and having fun."
And then, E, you immediately, happily, smeared mud all over yourself.
As we hiked back to the car, all of us muddy from head to toe, I thought, for the hundredth time, what a gift this man is. To us all.
You are beautiful, no matter what.
Your Clueless But Hopeful Mama