I am not a morning person. I do my best work at night, after the kids have gone to bed. I have to get up early to get my kids to school, but I do it in a fog, and my kids know not to expect more from me than transportation. This morning, I dropped my seventh grader off at school, and as she walked away, noticed for the first time what she was wearing. Athletic shorts and cowboy boots, an outfit almost guaranteed to generate teasing, even at her liberal, be yourself, everyone’s a snowflake school.
Driving home, I berated myself for the oversight. My negligence was sure to expose my kid to torment. I stopped at the red light on Fremont Avenue, one of Seattle’s near vertical arterials. A man in full cycle gear, with thighs like tree trunks, clipped in and shoved off up the hill. As he did so, he leaned over and gave a push to the tiny, pink bike next to him. His little girl, in the neighborhood’s uniform of leggings and long sleeve t-shirt, with a sparkly glitter helmet on her head, pedaled up the hill next to him. She looked about the same age as my younger daughter.
I had never seen the cycle dad before. The only thing I really know about him is that one moment, when he pushed his daughter’s bike to give her a start up a hill so steep neither I nor my kids could ride it. It was just a moment, a beautiful little moment, when a dad matter-of-factly gave his kid a boost in a way that was unique to their family.
It’s so easy to forget that the part of life that matters is just moments. Moments that show up in unexpected places on the most mundane of days. Sometimes they aren’t even particularly memorable (cycle dad probably does that every day, without thinking) but the effects build like sedimentary layers over time. Because they aren’t flashy, it’s easy to miss them, or even miss the opportunity to create them, if you’re not paying attention.
I should probably go to bed earlier.