Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

"It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain..." -Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

You never know how you're going respond to a moment. How you're going to react. I always envision myself breaking down and crying like a baby the moment the Jets finally win a Super Bowl in my lifetime. Tears of joy and relief, stunned disbelief. Then I snap back into reality and tell myself that's never going to happen. But a guy can dream.

I respond to the possible in the same way. So as Peanut's first day of school approached, I anticipated being an emotional mess. My Director did too. But we both said that we needed to keep ourselves composed for her sake. We turned our anxiety into excitement, building up her first day like we were waiting for the ball to drop on New Year's Eve. I am proud to say that we did hold it together.

Sorry. I tried for a cute picture but this is the best we could do. 
Brimming with Confidence
I should say My Director held it together. I did too, except for a brief moment after I said goodbye to Peanut. I kissed the top of her head and walked out of her classroom. I looked back and saw her sitting there coloring. My little Peanut, so big now. So strong. So independent:

Where did this person
come from?
I admit I got a little choked up. I felt the tears and the lump in the throat. But I fought it off to save face.
Once again, she thought nothing of this next step on our journey, this major milestone. She handled it with poise and grace. Just like her mom. Not only was Peanut not scared, she was fine. So we decided to be fine too. Because we know she is going to be fine.

We know because she's a lot more brave than we were at that age. She's more sociable and outgoing too. And she's amazingly curious. More curious than I remember being. When we recently watched The Wizard of Oz with her for the first time, for example, she provided us with an insight about the movie that we had never thought of before.

The Munchkins began to sing, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road." My Director and I instinctively began to sing along. Peanut, in full concentration mode while wearing her first-time-seeing-a-movie game face, interrupted our duet with a question that really forced both of us to think hard:
"What happens if they follow the red one?"
Why, yes. There IS a red one.
Red one? What red one? Yes. There it is. Right there, entwined in the spiral start of the yellow brick road. A red brick road. I was speechless. In all of my years of watching this movie hundreds of times, I never paid any mind to the red brick road, let alone wondered where it led. But not Peanut. That's the first thing she thought of. If the yellow brick road leads to the Emerald City, then where does the red brick road go?  (Incidentally, in one of the Oz books there is a second, much more treacherous yellow brick road. But no red one.)

So to make up for my lack of a suitable answer at the time of her question, I am responding to Peanut's most observant and clever query:

My sweet, the red brick road leads wherever you want it to. The only rules of the red brick road are these: follow your dreams and desires and make the most of your opportunities and talents. It will be what you make of it. No one will give you anything for free. It's never easy. But it can lead to wonderful riches, of the heart, mind, and even the wallet.

Curiosity is crucial along the red brick road. Don't ever stop asking questions like the ones you already ask me that routinely leave me stumped. Wonder and it will lead you to wonderful things. Mystery, adventure, love, heartache, laughter, tears, and friendship await you on the red brick road. Embrace these things. They will make you who you will become. Experience them. Remember them.

Taking that step
Now go on. Take that first step on the red brick road, if you choose. The first of many. It's truly amazing and inspiring. The places you'll go. The people you'll meet. The things you'll see. The things you'll eat. You don't need to rush along the red brick road. Walk. Enjoy. Savor. Soak it all in. Everything is there for the taking. You just have to go and get it. But earn it.

And as always, your mom and I are here for you when you get lost, when you need to find your way, when you're not sure of the direction. We will help you get there.

So go right ahead, Peanut. Follow the red brick road. I'm right behind you.

We actually had our doubts about showing Peanut The Wizard of Oz, but she once again proved she is more resilient than we sometimes give her credit for. You can read about it here


  1. This is amazing. I can see where she gets her deep thinking from! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

    1. Thanks so much. My Director and I both love this post and hope others do too.

    2. Fantastic! I, too, dear sweet Peanut, travel the "Red Road." That's where all the interesting people end up, sometimes after they are disenchanted with the Emerald City, sometimes, as the roads are intertwined, on the way.
      Thanks, DKL, I will never forget this one. All from the mind of a child... amazing.

  2. ooph. This had me tearing up. I don't know if I could have come up with something so wonderful to say about the red brick road. She is so blessed with a Daddy who can create such a positive answer to that. So sweet. Both Daddy and Peanut.

  3. I loved this post, both for your daughter's wonderful, inquisitive mind and your equally wonderful answer. I too never noticed that red brick road. I wonder what else I haven't noticed along the way...Thanks!

  4. Love this post and whole red brick analogy to life. Beautifully written. Your daughter is just as bright as her daddy.

  5. Love this! Even though I have years ahead of me to prepare, I'm already dreading my kiddo's first day of school. It seems so far away, but I'm sure it'll be here in no time flat.


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