First Second

Saturday afternoon we had lounged lazily to the point it was no longer enjoyable. The kids were antsy. I was groggy from an interrupted nap. Lacking the energy to get a craft going, or the mental clarity to play a board game involving basic math, I suggested a walk.

I hadn’t realized how stale the air in the house had gotten. I was refreshed the instant I took my first breath of the coolness outside. The three of us determined to head to the school playground and Ella wanted to take us by her tree to show Pax the way he would walk each morning when he starts preschool in the fall.

She showed me the tree she climbed every day, the rocks she balanced on, and the cross walk she usually raced across on her way to school last year. On this walk, I also lifted Pax into the tree, helped him balance on the rocks, but at the cross walk I still lacked the energy for a competitive run. I sat that one out and walked behind them.

It was at this cross walk that I learned something about Ella.

The race began at one curb cut and ended at the other. It started like all races do, “On your mark. Get set. Go!” But almost as soon as it started she slowed her pace to let her little brother catch up and held his hand to ensure they ended in a tie.

“We’re both first, Pax!” she celebrated.

As if that wasn’t sweet enough, I came sauntering up to be greeted with a very telling phrase.

“Way to go Dad! You won first second!”

She continued to explain it to me, almost to validate it was a real thing and to make me feel better about my sub par race performance. “You were second, but you were the first one to come in second, so you were first second!”

“Who told you about first second?” I asked. I wondered if she picked this up at school from one of her teachers or something.

“No one. I just made it up myself!”

I loved this. In contrast to my competitive nature, which would have split hairs over whose foot touched the curb cut first, she was willing to make everyone first place in something. It just made me smile.

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