Earlier this month, at Harvest Days in Flaming Gryphon (Dayton, OH area), we were having a bad day.
We took all four kids, which isn't something we do very often (I've spoken about this before), and even though we were all on deck, I had a class to teach, and Ulfr, as Regional Archery Marshal, had a huge amount of business to conduct. The boys in particular, just didn't care about rules and boundaries and staying away from the archery range. My daughter, who is only recently potty-trained, had some obsession with going to the bathroom (a long walk from the range) every five minutes. As far as events go, it ranked pretty high up there on the suck scale.
It's hard, in the midst of those types of events, to find the good. Stuck in your own headspace of worrying that things aren't going well, and wondering why you can't gain control, you tend to overlook that there are experiences and moments happening that truly matter. There are conversations that happen that you know mean a tremendous amount, and you wish you could perhaps be a little less distracted for them. You struggle to maintain your composure as you try to make it past a group of people as your child runs circles around you, refusing to listen. When you get help in that moment, it's hard to relate how grateful you are, and how relieved you are that someone recognized your need and wasn't judging your parenting abilities.
It's hard to recognize that good things are happening when you're focused on what's not working.
But, despite everything that was sucking that day, something tremendous happened. Something tremendously good.
In the weeks prior, we'd assembled some new items for my daughter, a kirtle, a 14th century hood, a smocked apron, even a huvet. Her outfit was adorable, and she loved it. She was full of confidence, and for the first time that I could tell, she really seemed to understand that what we were doing was something special and unique; that events weren't just parties, but were an important part of who we were and what we believed in. She wasn't just dressed in pretty, girly clothes. She was part of something.
When I was teaching my class, my mom took my daughter for a walk. Unlike her brothers, she had been mostly behaving and was borderline cocky as a result. As they walked, she admired the armor of fighters leaving the field, and even told a few as much. Never before had she seemed to notice or care about what was happening on the list fields, but now she appeared to not only care, but to recognize when a person's armor was different or somehow special. She was seeing the event with new eyes.
Then this happened:
|Photo by the amazing Marissa Wheatley Williams|
This is everything perfect and wonderful and right.
This is happiness and joy and a moment to be treasured, not just for the people involved, but for all of us.
This is The Dream.
On a day when my 4-year-old daughter's eyes started to see the world of our events with more clarity and understanding, the King, just being himself, saw her, just being herself, and created something perfect. And thankfully, Marissa, just being her talented self, caught it.
My daughter didn't walk away from that experience unchanged. Her language changed. She felt new ownership of the event, and a deep understanding of how she fit into it. When I asked her where she'd gotten the bracelet, she said "I got it from my King."
At the next event, Coronation this past weekend, my mother (it was just the two of them that day) witnessed the results of this moment. My daughter took every opportunity to not just see the fighting, but to watch it and attempt to understand it. She was not a bystander, as so many of our youth often become. She was at the event to BE AT THE EVENT. Not because she was carried along, but because it was her event to go to.
She recognized those she'd seen at Harvest Day, and even conversed with a Duke for a 2nd time. Fearless and confident, and joyfully a part of the day. I value whatever wisdom His Grace imparted to my daughter. I hope whatever impression it made on her lasts. I also hope the impression it made on him lasts as well. For it's not enough for these moments to happen and impact just one side. These are moments that shape the young children among us, and direct them to either love the Society or dismiss its importance in their lives. We owe it to ourselves to care about the impressions we leave on those still too young to participate in full.
So because a man took the chance to be a King to a little girl, and because the people around my pre-schooler stopped looking at her as just a child for just a moment, and acknowledged that she too was there to experience the magic of our community, my daughter is today a SCAdian.
|My SCAdian daughter the morning of Coronation|
Do I have high hopes that my daughter may someday sit on the throne, remembering with clarity the day our crazy garbed adventures finally made sense to her? Of course. But for now it's enough for me to see that she just "gets it"; to see that The Dream is hers to realize too.