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.

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“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.

“Pizza!”

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.