March 3, 2017

A few weeks ago we took Amelia to her third or fourth hockey game.

Her first was when she was around 3 or 4 months old. We were brand-new parents and assumed if we brought her to new places and exposed her to lots of weird new experiences it would make it easier for her to adapt.

That was our first mistake–turns out the kid came out just not trusting people until she gets to know them. Nothing we did was likely to change that.

This hockey game was pretty low-key since it’s actually the minor minor league. Many of the seats were empty so we decided to take her to the first row so she could run around and watch the hockey game eye-to-eye (or eye-to-forehead since she’s still a bit small for the boards).

As we were watching we saw two mascots–a terrifying-looking Viking and a dog with a tuft of red hair. Because anticipating and predicting disaster is our main parenting strategy, we fretted over whether we should move Amelia away or fend them off. As luck would have it a few minutes later, before we even realized what was happening, the dog mascot sat down next to Rob and put his arm around him. I braced for the inevitable explosion, one hundred percent convinced that my kid would be horrified.

I turned to look at her. She was lit up like a god-damn Christmas tree.

I seriously don’t think I’ve ever seen her so enchanted, particularly by something that other children can find scary.

As they walked away she was quiet for a moment, and then said, “need to hug dog.”

“Need to hug dog. Need to hug dog. Need to hug dog.” Over and over and over again. Not a hint of toddler urgency or imminent tantrum, just a simple statement. “Need to hug dog.”

I caught the dog just before he headed into the locker room to put his skates on. I sort of sputtered out something about how sorry I was to bother him but oh my god my kid can be really shy with people but just loves you and needs to hug you right now. He (she?) patted my arm, kneeled down and gave my daughter the biggest hug.

No joke, it’s been several weeks and she’s still talking about it. She’s even talking about the terrifying Viking, named Gunnar, saying constantly, “Gunnar hit the drum! It was really loud!”

I wonder how many times it happens as a parent that your kid rewrites the script you didn’t know you were writing for them.