To My Daughter, Turning Ten
Beacon’s Riverfront Park looks different today, as if we’d been away for years, though it has only been a month or two since our last visit. They’ve erected a new sign in honor of Pete and Toshi Seeger, for whom the park is now named. The sign stands in front of the volleyball pits, which, today, have a full battalion of twentysomethings playing in them—the men shirtless, the women in tank tops and gym shorts, the laughter boisterous and the banter refreshingly unprofane. When you were younger and I took you here every summer weekend, you used the volleyball pits as a sandbox—you wanted to dig “bolt holes,” like you’d seen on Meerkat Manor—and were always disappointed if they were occupied. Today, you don’t seem to notice.
“I want to check something, okay?” And you’re off, running, toward the river. You probably want to see whether it’s high or low tide—if low, a large bank of rocks will protrude above the surface, and you like stepping out onto them, at least before you get to the ones too slippery with river slime. I’m watching you run: long strides, arms swinging in symmetry, something confident about the way you move. On your way, you pass a group of toddlers, and I’m astonished at how you tower over them and by the contingencies that shadow their every step.
Did you really move like that? You did. There is no more apt word for it than “toddle” (a drunk totters, a child toddles). These tiny people, even when moving on surfaces as flat as kitchen floors, jostle like pickups on potholed back roads. When you could toddle reliably, I’d let you run from the car to the play structures in the park’s center, while I followed. I’m seeing that little girl running away in my mind’s eye now; I’ll probably see her when my time comes.
Read the entire piece at First Things
Paul Beston is managing editor of City Journal.
This piece originally appeared in First Things