He was running toward the playground as fast as his stubby little 3-year-old legs could carry him when he suddenly stopped.
“Dad!” Steven called, squatting to pick something off the ground. “I found money!”
I caught up to him near the teeter-totter. He uncurled his fingers and the sun winked off a shiny new penny.
“Wow!” I said. “If you find a penny, it’s your lucky day! That means good things are going to happen to you today!”
He looked at me the way he did when I told him liver was yummy.
“Do you want me to put in my pocket so you don’t lose it?” I asked.
“No!” he said, tucking the penny hand protectively under his other arm. It made it harder to climb to the top of the slide, but he managed.
A silver-haired lady walking a dog strolled through the park. Steven finished his slide and ran up to them. “I found a penny!” he said proudly, opening his hand.
“That means it’s your lucky day,” the lady said.
Steven looked at me with wide eyes; it’s one thing if dad says it, but coming from a grandma who has never fibbed about liver …
“Should we go get some ice cream?” I asked after we’d been at the park for an hour.
It was a rhetorical question.
I got him his own kid-sized ice cream cone and let him sit on the side of the little Formica table with the seat that swivels. He licked ice cream off his fingers, and I had one of those nostalgic parental moments when you want your child to stay this age forever.
“What would you like for supper?” I asked as we left the ice cream parlor. I probably should have thought of that before the ice cream, but mom was out of town and dads have a different approach to raising children.
Yeah, that would have been my first choice.
We sat on the couch, ate take-out pizza and watched TV. Somewhere in the middle of Curious George, we both started to nod off.
I carried Steven to his room and pulled the sleeve of his pajama top over a clenched fist.
“I’ll put your penny on the dresser,” I said. “It will be there when you wake up.”
The light of a nearly full moon was slanting through the blinds. He opened his hand and a moonbeam twinkled off the penny.
I set the coin atop the dresser, tucked Steven into bed and kissed him on the forehead.
“Did I have a lucky day?” he asked, his voice thick with approaching sleep.
I smiled from the doorway. “You sure did.”
And so did I.
Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.