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Tales From the City EXTRAVAGANZA!

Daddy's Best Decision

(Illustration by Ryan O'Rourke)
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March 30, 2008

My afternoon game plan was to clean up the yard. My 5-year-old daughter, Kyleigh Mae, would be with me, but I was positive she would get bored and go play on her own while I raked leaves. This is the extent of the quality time I had planned. But something different happened. I placed a hockey net and sticks on the patio for my daughter to play with. I asked if she was going to play with them. Her response: "Are you?" I said what only a dad could say to his 5-year-old: "Let's go!" She staved off a ferocious comeback to beat Dad 9 to 8. She was happy she won but wanted to share her trophy with me, as she felt bad I had lost.

I returned to raking. Two minutes later, I couldn't help noticing her jumping down the stairs with an open umbrella, emulating Mary Poppins. My rake fell to the ground, and I asked if she wanted to go fly a kite. Her dark-brown eyes grew wide; she knew exactly where we could find one in the basement. We jumped in the car and went to the park by the lake. The kite had a tear I was able to fix with some tape, and my daughter gave me a thumbs up and a convincing "Good job, Dad." We worked together for about an hour and a half, with mixed results.

We shifted our attention to the softball diamond, where we raced each other around the bases. I would be defeated by a tiny step each time. Still ignoring my work agenda, I returned to the car and grabbed a football. Kyleigh Mae would play the role of Lucy, and I'd be Charlie Brown. She promised she would not pull the ball away, but her dimples and wide smile told me otherwise. Time and again we relived the famous Peanuts scene, and I would fall to the ground, to the delight of a giggling little girl. We then huddled and drew up football plays with leaves and sticks. I was always the stick and my girl the leaf. "Daddy, leaves are prettier, like girls," she said. Our football plays ended up with me tackling my girl, who always changed the play in her favor at the line of scrimmage. Score: Daughter 21, Dad 0.

On our way home, we stopped for refreshments, strawberry milk for her, vitamin water for Dad. Back at the house, I grabbed my daughter's favorite crackers, and we spread peanut butter on them. We agreed these were far better than the ones Mommy buys. Evening arrived, and we journeyed to Nonna and Papa's house for dinner. Home again, I carried my girl to her bed and then told her favorite story, "Jack and the Bean Stalk." As I kissed her good night, she reached up, pulled me close, gave me an extra-long hug, and said, "Daddy, I love you so much. . . . This was my best day ever! Can we do this again tomorrow?"

Keith Flannigan
Wakefield

Please keep your strange-but-true stories coming! E-mail them to tales@globe.com.

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