My little girl isn’t a little girl anymore (sniff). Molly is growing up fast. When school resumes in August, she will be a high school sophomore. The last few days she has been hard at work doing her online study in preparation for her fast approaching driver education (yikes). As I watch her changing and growing into a young adult, I find myself reflecting upon years gone by. I have recently been recalling a few situations from years ago, a couple of which were hilarious, and one of which was terrifying. I suppose all parents can relate to the fact that raising kids will produce stories that run the gamut of emotions. These three stories stand out in my memory above the others. I am prone to forget stories, so while I am thinking about these, I will use this platform to preserve them for posterity. I will begin with the one that is not such a pleasant memory.
It was winter break and I was home on holiday from work. Molly was about 3 years old. We had recently moved into a new house we had built. I woke up at about 8:30 that morning. My wife, Jeanna, had already been at work for about 2 hours. Molly, I assumed, was snug in bed in her room. I looked out our bedroom window to see a heavy blanket of snow on the ground and the wind was howling. I wondered if Jeanna had made it to work without trouble. I assumed she would have called if she hadn’t. I went downstairs to get some breakfast. Around 9am, I decided I would look in on Molly. I went back upstairs and carefully opened her bedroom door, not wanting to wake her if she was still sleeping. When I looked at her bed, I didn’t see her. I walked over to the bed and looked under the blankets. She was not there. I called for her…no response. Not yet frightened, but a little unnerved, I went to her bathroom. The door was opened, light off, no Molly. I called for her again, no answer. Now getting a little freaked out, I went back into her bedroom and checked her walkin closet. I looked behind the hanging clothes. I called for her again and again, no response. Now I was swallowing hard trying to choke back panic. I went downstairs thinking, perhaps, somehow she had escaped my notice when I went down there to get breakfast. Now I was screaming her name at the top of my lungs. I checked the downstairs bathroom, the pantry, looked behind the Christmas tree, no Molly…anywhere, no response to my frantic calls. I ran back upstairs and checked the master suite. I looked under the bed, I checked our walkin closet, looking behind hanging clothes, calling for her until I was hoarse…nothing. Now I was in blinding panic mode. I bound back downstairs, missing a step, and fell awkwardly. It should have hurt (it did later) but I felt nothing at the time—–adrenaline was ruling now. I sat on the steps and tried to think what to do. I decided to check outside–good lord, I hope she didn’t go outside in this weather!–I looked out the opened the back door. I saw no sign in the snow that she had gone out there. I called for her, no answer. I ran to the front door and looked out there. I saw some footprints that were partially drifted over, but they belonged to Jeanna. Jeanna! I have to call her! I hastily called Jeanna at work and frantically told her the situation. I could hear the panic in her voice. She was going to come home right away. When I hung up, something made me run back upstairs. I walked into the master bedroom and called for Molly one more time. I saw a little motion behind the recliner chair in the corner next to the bed. Molly popped out from behind the chair, grinning, ear to ear, as if she had just won the greatest game of hide-and-seek of her life. I ran and grabbed her up, squeezing her in a bear hug of relief and sobbing uncontrollably. I called Jeanna and told her that the crisis was averted. I sat down, still shaking, holding Molly, trying to make her understand why that game wasn’t fun. I probably scared her a little, but nothing like she scared me. I have no idea how long that little episode actually lasted, I suspect about 10 minutes, but I can assure you it was the most terrifying period of time I have ever experienced.
Now for some happier stories.
It was late spring or early summer, maybe just later that same year. It was a Sunday and, as usual, our family was running a little late getting to church. We were rushing to get ready and finally got everyone into the car. We sped off to church and pulled into the parking lot right about the time we should have been taking our seats. In a hurry to get into the building, Jeanna and I were walking a little too fast for little Molly to keep up and she had fallen a few steps behind us. Mid way across the parking lot we heard Molly’s cute little voice say something. We stopped and turned around. “What did you say, Molly?”, we asked. “I said, nobody wants to see my bottom.” Jeanna and I looked at each other, puzzled, then looked back down at our precious little girl who was, by this time, hoisting up her little sun dress to reveal nothing but what God had given her down there below the equator. That’s right, in our haste to get to church on time, we had neglected to equip little Molly with underwear that day. Needless to say, we never did make it into church that morning. But we laughed all the way back home.
It was summer, probably about a year later. I guess Molly was about 4 years old. She had reached the stage where she liked to talk…a lot! She had picked up a bad habit of wanting to horn in on any and all phone conversations that took place at our house. If you were speaking on the phone with someone that summer, Molly Phipps wanted in on that. I forget who Jeanna was talking to on the phone that day, but I remember that Molly was all up in her business, tugging at Jeanna’s arm trying to get her to let her say hi to whoever was on the other line…just who it was made no difference to Molly Phipps. After trying in vain to get Molly to leave her be, Jeanna finally had had enough. She abruptly put her hand over the phone and jerked her head to look at Molly saying, “Molly, stop it! You are bothering me. I am trying to talk on the phone, it’s rude!” Molly backed off a step and, looking a little defeated, said, “but I want to talk to Rude.” With that, whatever anger Jeanna had built up about Molly’s pestering went right out the window and we just laughed.
We have come through the highs and lows of rising a little one. I wish I had written down more stories like these. Sometime, when more of the old stories come back fresh to mind in future conversations, I will.
For the time being, though, it’s time to appreciate the now. Molly’s not so little these days and the house isn’t brand new anymore, but we are still here and summer vacation has just started. There is still plenty of time to make some new stories. Here’s to making them happy ones.