While sitting waiting for the parade to start tonight, it hit me that at last year's parade, I had just returned from meeting Beti in Addis Ababa. I was still jetlagged even. I'd met her. I'd put a temporary tattoo on her arm, watched her push the little kids around on a decrepit push-toy, and then I'd had to leave her there. She has told me that she knew who I was even though she wasn't supposed to know who I was. At last year's Starlight parade in downtown Portland, my neighbors and family were sitting around me while she was with her friends in Addis.
This year, she and Ted ran the 5k Starlight Run. She wanted to dress as Darth Vader in a clown wig. Ted tried to put together an Obi Wan costume but we didn't have any brown hooded things laying around the house, so at the last minute he ran as a Scottish 1950's high school basketball player in black leggings.
She, of course, was one of the first kids to finish the race. They didn't keep track of it, but my suspicion is that she was the youngest to finish first. I just saw some bigger boys ahead of her, plus adults. Then her. In a Darth Vader costume. Holding her dad's hand and slapping her brother's hand as she ran by. I yelled loudly and tried to get a picture, but she was way too fast.
It got dark and the parade started (the grand marshals were these guys
who were as adorable in person as they are in this famous video). The firefighters started the parade with a routine of taking turns jumping off a ladder onto a hand-held trampoline. She turned and asked, "Mom, can I go?" I let her. She ran up to them, and they put her on the trampoline and gave her a bounce up in the air. She ran back with huge smile. With anything physical, she is fearless.
On the way home, she passed out asleep, mouth gaping open in the back seat. Inside, she discovered that the dog had chewed the nose off a toy gorilla and thrown it back up. The dog had also brought down one of her baby dolls and taken his pants off. She laughed about that. I laughed too. I turned to do something. She fell flat in the middle of the floor and started crying. I went to comfort her, and she cried-almost-sobbed into my shirt. I rubbed her back, asked what happened, said to Ted, "One minute she was standing and the next, she's on the floor! I have no idea what happened!" I was having fears of some running-related latent injury. She kept crying into my shirt. Then she looked up at me and smiled. She was faking.
I was angry. Really angry. I scolded her and put her on a chair so I could cool off. Ted did this to me once the first year we were married. I was walking out the door, and he collapsed on the floor while grabbing his chest. I panicked. I ran at him, grabbing for my phone to dial 911. He saw the look of panic in my face and let me in on the 'joke'. There are few things that make me angrier than someone tricking me into thinking they're hurt. And who does this anyway? Who is it funny for? I was livid then, and I was livid tonight.
There are two actors in our house. Two. They are both really good actors who commit fully to the role they're playing. But Sweet Jesus, up on high in our eternal home and residing in our sinful hearts, if either of these actors ever trick me again into thinking I need to get an ambulance for them... I don't know how to finish this thought. They both know they better never do it.
I gave her a hug and sent her to bed. Then I called her back. I hugged her again and told her I love her. She furrowed her brows but leaned into me. She does this sometimes. I think it's hard for her to remember that even when I get mad at her, I still love her. And I do. I hugged her tighter and told her again, just to say it twice.
I am not an actor.