Her hair is pink and in dire need of a wash; her glasses are held together with masking tape, and there is nothing more beautiful than her out here in the spring sunshine, framed by just-budding trees, laughing her heart out.
She is eleven years old, somewhere between little girl and teenager, and she makes my heart dance.
We are throwing a giant purple frisbee back and forth, and we are terrible at it. I throw too high; she throws it into the trees. I make a dash to catch it and she laughs at the sight of her awkward, out-of-shape mom trying to run to catch anything. I throw it to her and she misses and flings herself into the grass, hysterical with giggles.
Sometimes you just need some mother-daughter bonding time, and today was the day. She wanted McDonald’s chicken mcnuggets and french fries, so we went through the drive-through in my stupid minivan with the driver’s window that doesn’t roll down. We found a place to spread out our fleecy blanket, and we enjoyed a picnic.
She loves ketchup on her mcnuggets, so much ketchup that I was a bit in awe watching her. I only like a little bit of ketchup occasionally on my fries. She opened package after package, and I was thankful the fleecy blanket was already red. She chattered about her life and about our plans after lunch, all the time bathing her chicken in ketchup. I ate my burger and smiled at her and how she’s grown so much and become her own person.
We took a selfie and then she took my phone and took a whole series of goofy selfies, because that’s what you do when you’re eleven and Mom is dumb enough to give you her phone. Then we drove to the park and found a nice big patch of our own personally grassy space.
I thought maybe we would throw the frisbee a few times and then get sick of it and go for a walk, but she loves this giant purple frisbee and keeps trying again and again. She laughs so hard at me, at herself, and the loud people we can hear but not see on the other side of the park. She is all flair and drama and giggles, and I can’t help but act like a goof just to hear that amazing girly laugh.
“The wind did that” becomes our excuse for every bad throw, every missed catch, every ridiculous thing, and a couple times I’m afraid she might actually stop breathing because she’s laughing so hard. We throw the frisbee high, low, sideways. We throw it way too far and not nearly far enough. One time I throw it and the wind catches it and we both yell out loud thinking it might land on the roof of the building next door. It doesn’t, and then we both laugh at how dumb we were. It wasn’t even that high.
It is a sweet, simple outing on a beautiful spring afternoon– nothing fancy, just cheap fast food and a giant purple frisbee– and it is exactly perfect, exactly what we both need.
She is growing so tall, so beautiful, so unique and talented and funny. She is my girl, and days like today are the ones I hold onto when the drama is less funny and more frustrating, when both of us are hard to live with, when hormones take over hilarity.
She is a treasure, and today with her is a gift.