Walking to School Was Worth It, Even When It Rained

A mom, a daughter, and the sheer beauty of the embarrassing moment.

Photo by Michael Ventura


Third grade. “Mama…tell me a story.” My daughter, Madeline, and I are walking to school up 11th Road to McKinley Elementary. It’s a short walk, but a long walk if we are running late, which we often are for reasons that are never completely clear.

“I don’t have a story. I don’t know any stories.” We start going up the hill, which makes me catch my breath. We’re running late, but it’s my own fault. I make us walk to school every day. And she complains every day.

“We’re walkers,” I tell her. This drives her crazy, so we usually start off the day feeling fairly grumpy toward each other. I wonder why I make us do it.

“Mama, please. A story?”

“Mads…stop for a second. Your jacket is dragging,” I say, hoping she forgets her story pleading. It doesn’t work.

“Tell me a story, Mama. Pleeeease.”

I know the stories she likes. No lectures, no lessons. She likes confusion meets mistake meets spotlight—with me as the star.

“Okay fine,” I say as I shift into storytelling mode and tell her about the time I was calling my boss, Bob, and got his voicemail. Only I started to think about how next I was going to call my husband, and when I finally heard the beep, in my head I was already calling my husband, so I said, “Hey handsome, handsome! It’s your wife!” just as I remembered that I wasn’t yet calling my husband, I was still calling my boss. “I mean….it’s not your wife…..it’s your employee….Mary Doroshenk.”

Mads loves this story and laughs her big gorgeous contagious laugh.

Our moods have lightened and the patrol is still at the corner, which I take as a good sign. We enter the building. I kiss her head and watch her skip off in her pink cowboy boots and disappear into the crowd down the hall.

Categories: People