Published on November 30th, 2016 | by Meg Weber0
Meg Weber Follows THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
“Should we take our chances and walk?” I asked. It was mostly rhetorical, in that way parents ask about things they’ve already decided. For the first time in eighteen days it wasn’t raining while we ran errands, so the idea of strolling across the parking lot from Home Depot to Michael’s was unusually compelling.
The nine-year-old began to fuss. We’d only run one of the three planned errands and her patience had already worn thin. “I don’t want to walk. I’m not going to walk. So there.”
Not engaging was my best move. I quietly set the purchases from Home Depot into the car: toilet seat, five feet of copper tubing, wooden shims.
When I closed the car door and Lili shut the trunk Kai finally realized the adults had won and we were walking across the parking lot whether she wanted to or not. We set off back toward Home Depot to find the safest place to walk. Kai skipped between me and Lili, holding each of our hands.
We must have looked like an established family—two adults tethered to a kiddo out on their weekend errands. Only we knew how new it was, how Lili had moved in less than two weeks ago, how this was our first full weekend together.
There wasn’t a sidewalk so we walked on a section of pavement outside Home Depot that is painted with a series of yellow lines. Yellow for caution, for loading zone. “It sort of looks like the yellow brick road,” I said, trying to engage my daughter and trick her out of being grumpy.
She took the bait, but cautiously. “Yeah I guess it does.”
“Clearly that makes me the lion,” I continued. Lions are a given with me. I always get to be the lion. “So who does that make you? Are you Dorothy?” She doesn’t really know the story of the Wizard of Oz, she’s never seen the movie or read the book. I preemptively decided the flying monkeys would scare her. Honestly I might still be afraid of them.
“Yeah, I’m Dorothy,” she agreed, smiling.
“Well then who’s Lili?” I asked.
It wasn’t meant as a layered question, but really—who was Lili to Kai? Just over a month ago, Lili had visited for a week from the Midwest and met Kai for the first time. I introduced Lili as my sweetheart, a step I’d never taken since Kai’s other mama and I divorced three years earlier.
During that visit Kai and Lili got along well. They fixed spaghetti pie together for dinner; they made each other laugh at the breakfast table. It was enough of a success to make the big leap that both Lili and I wanted to make—the leap into partnership, into building a home and a family together here. When I told Kai a couple weeks later that Lili was coming back, this time to live with us, she seemed excited and surprised.
There in the parking lot on that blissfully not rainy day, Kai thought for a minute. “She can be the good witch. Yeah, Wanda the good witch.” Lili laughed.
We kept walking along our make-believe yellow brick road and Kai started to sing. It took me a minute to place the song she was singing and then I caught it. Her primary reference for the story of the Wizard of Oz is a folk song by Kris Delmhorst called “Yellow Brick Road.” She knows the lyrics because she’s heard it in my car countless times. A parent can only listen to Kidz-Bop music for so long before reverting to her own form of musical sanity. Folky pop songs with clever lyrics are my go-to.
Lili and I smiled at each other over Kai’s head, something we’ll only be able to do for another year or so before Kai outgrows both of us. “I love that this is where her mind goes,” I said.
Lili laughed, “She is your daughter, that’s for sure.”
We made our way through the store with only one impulse purchase meant to distract and pacify the impatient kid. We got everything we came for: cookie cutters and glitter dust for holiday cut-out cookies, wrapping paper for a cousin’s gift. Kai whined and begged for the miniature version of a stuffed animal who shares her name, since she already has the larger one at home. We managed to escape without it, but Lili and I both made a mental note to come back for it as a stocking stuffer.
That’s one of the things I love about our new family unit. As the primary parent, I no longer have to hold all the details. I have an ally, someone to help me do all the adult things parents are supposed to have mastered like grocery shopping and cooking and remembering not just that the kid went on a field trip, but also to ask how it went.
Outside the craft store we crossed back to the loading zone. As we approached it Kai started singing “Yellow Brick Road” again. “I’m just looking for someone…”
“You know what’s so amazing about that lyric?” I interrupted. For once, Kai didn’t chastise me for it. She does indignant pretty convincingly for a nine-year-old. She looked at me without answering, encouraging me to continue.
“That part talks about looking for someone to walk with me, right?” She nodded. “And guess what?! We found our someone to walk with us, she’s right here!” Lili and I grinned at each other, each full of new love giddiness.
Kai picked up where she’d left off in the song and the three of us sang along as we made our way back to the car en route to the grocery store.