Tall and handsome. Square brow, sympathetic eyes, and a clean haircut with gray starting to add dimension to his hair. Broad shoulders and a strong jaw. He was the embodiment of a total man, yet his face was softened by his gentle heart. The comfortable jeans and periwinkle sweatshirt with the huge Mickey Mouse on the front was external evidence of his strong and tender “daddy” love for the nine-year-old girl whose hand he was holding.
Thick blond hair and slender-formed frame. Beautiful tan skin and a flawless complexion. Graceful in her posture and in the movement of her hands. The tilt of her head and the expressions her eyes could hold may have been what had originally allured him to her. Her model-like figure was clothed in a gentle, black velour sweat suit and tennis shoes, her long hair hung loose adding gentle glamour to the casual outfit.
Amidst the rush of people, they stood facing each other. They seemed oblivious to the groups of teenagers racing to get into the lines before others did, or to the tired screaming children who had eaten too much sugar, or to the families splitting a couple bags of popcorn and fighting over who was getting more than their share. Their daughter, in between them, looked up as the two held each other’s gaze.
His eyes - tired, frustrated. Why can’t she see how much I have poured out all day? Why isn’t she happy with everything I have tried to do for her today?
Her eyes - wounded. Why doesn’t he understand what I’m trying to say? Why doesn’t he understand how much he is hurting me with his words?
His arms - moving in exasperated gestures. Why doesn’t she understand my logic? She is so emotional and she isn’t listening to me at all. Why doesn’t she hear that I am trying to make this work for everybody?
Her arms - crossed. I have to protect myself and stand up for myself. Should I be vulnerable with him? No, he is so selfish that he would only hurt me more. Why doesn’t he try to hear what my heart is trying to say?
His feet - walking away, his hand pulling his daughter with him. Fine, if she won’t listen and she refuses to cooperate, then I’m gonna leave her here and let my daughter enjoy the rest of this day. I’m the man. She can decide if she wants to follow me or not.
Her feet - firm and planted. I can’t follow him. It hurts to much to be near him when he is treating me like this. If I stand strong, maybe he will realize how he is treating me and then maybe he’ll hear me.
Now about fifteen feet away from her, he tensely turns around. He lets go of his daughter’s hand and walks a few feet back to her. She looks at him, hopeful on the inside but stoic on the outside. He looks at her face, and his frustration boils over. He raises his strong arm, points directly at her, and in a rush of intense frustration and disappointed anger he yells, “Good job on ruining the night!”
He stares at her intensely for a couple of very long seconds to purposely let the hurt of those words sink in. She holds his gaze and refuses to let her tear-filled eyes spill over. He shakes his head in frustration and returns to his daughter. As soon as he turns away, she lets the tears silently fall and catches them with her fingers before they cause her black mascara to leave evidence of her emotions all over her face.
He tells his daughter to “come on, let’s go.” The little girl looks back and forth between her mom and dad. Back and forth, back and forth, trying to know how to help them both. Trying to figure out which side to take. She doesn’t want to go with just daddy and leave mommy behind. But will daddy be mad if she stays with mommy?
He looks at his wife one last time…this time the anger replaced by tired pleading. She meets his gaze, then lowers her eyes instantly; but the pull is too strong. Without meeting his eyes, she starts to walk forward. He holds his daughter’s hand while she follows a foot behind and together, they silently head off to finish their night at the happiest place on earth.
This post was inspired while observing the crowd, and this specific family, while waiting for a friend in front of Space Mountain.