“Look a’ that!”
When I hear those words and that tone, I know what I’m likely to find. I glance to where Missy’s finger is stabbing the magazine page and I’m not disappointed.
“Whoa,” I say appreciatively. “Cool shoes, Miss!”
Anyone who knows our disabled ward knows she has an eye for footwear, the brighter the better. Her sneakers are usually a shade of hot pink most often seen on Barbie dolls, cotton candy and pre-teen birthday cakes with extra frosting. Her current pair literally glow in the dark, not that they need to – even in broad daylight, every eye in the room is pulled to them like Superman to a bank robbery.
“I want a pair like those!” is the common refrain, with a smile and a laugh. My wife Heather even went beyond words to action; she and Missy now have matching Day-Glo footwear. Strategically placed, they may even save us money on nightlights, so there are all kinds of side benefits to be had.
But Missy’s dreams race far ahead of her feet.
Go through a magazine with her, even for a short while, and you will discover every wild, elaborate or fancy pair of shoes to be had. High heels with elaborate fastenings. Pumps with sequins. Shoes straight off the runway, with no practical application at all – ah, but this isn’t about practicality, is it? This is about imagination.
“Look a’ ma shoes.”
Missy’s cerebral palsy rules out nearly every single pair, of course. Her balance is carefully maintained at each step, even in sneakers with good soles and great support; put her in even a low heel and the fun would quickly become dangerous. Were she ever to spend more time in a wheelchair, Heather and I agree, one of the few consolations would be the amount of footwear that would be opened up to her.
And so, she dreams. It’s fun, even harmless, so long as she doesn’t actually step into anything that can’t hold her up.
At this point in the election calendar, Missy may have a lot of company.
Anyone who’s been giving even a glance to the political news – and I can’t really blame you if that isn’t you – has been seeing constant reports of “surges,” presidential candidates catching fire who are sure to be the Next Big Thing. The spotlight may be on Ben Carson, or Bernie Sanders, or the Trump card himself, but the message is always the same: look over here, a star is about to be born!
“Look at that!”
It can be fun to see the enthusiasm (or maybe frightening, depending on the candidate and your side of the aisle) and speculate on the possibilities. But like the shoes in Missy’s catalogs, there’s not a lot of support there.
This is the preseason. Maybe even training camp.
This is the stretch of time that once spurred talk about Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. This is when Howard Dean was a superstar and Bill Bradley a hopeful.
This is six months before the primaries get started. A lot can happen in six months. And usually does.
In short, it’s dream season.
And it’s worth remembering.
By all means, get fired up for someone. It’s good to care, great to be involved. But this early in the game, take each report of a surge with a few shakers of salt. Meteoric rises are common at this stage. So are equally-meteoric falls.
Maybe your guy or gal really is The One. If that’s your leaning, great. Work to make it so. But don’t be seduced into thinking it’s all over but the laurel wreaths. As the SEALs like to say, the only easy day was yesterday. The long work is still ahead.
Dreams are fun, even necessary. But the support has to be there.
If it comes in glow-in-the-dark pink, that’s a bonus.