February 22, 2001
As we walked through the door she began her incantation. Raising her hands before her, eyes closed, she began:
I wish, I wish with all my heart
To fly with dragons in the land of heart
I stared, transfixed, as she repeated her words again and again. I knew her chant from her favorite cartoon show. And I took special note of a four year old’s version of an often-heard rhyme.
Her eyelids moved to the beat of her voice. When she stopped her eyes slowly opened and looked at me. “Now, I’ll teach you how to make a wish. If you say it two times, you get to make two wishes.”
I smiled a deep smile. It had been a tough day at work and if this was a sign of things to come, I couldn’t have asked for a better one! I looked around, suddenly aware we weren’t alone. We were on stage, as my 4 year old daughter and I always were, in the subway car on our commute home.
Only one man had taken notice of us. Considering the strength of my daughter’s voice, I was surprised more people weren’t watching. As she chanted he smiled, but stifled it and looked away whenever our eyes met. I was now enjoying both of them. The dance between her recital and his face was something special. When we arrived at his station, he stopped just long enough to say what an amazing spirit she had. I was sorry to see him go.
This was the second performance of the day. On our morning commute, as we rode the slow elevator to the surface, she and I were packed tightly with others. In the public/private solitude, traditional in this venue, she suddenly broke the rules by loudly proclaiming “I love you, daddy!” in her best theatrical voice.
The smiles were audible and I felt like her carnival accomplice, her shill, trying to bring unsuspecting people into our fold. She, of course, knew exactly what she was doing.