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Good Luck

My daughter is 3 1/2 and an only child, so I spend a lot of time trying to keep her busy. This requires coming up with a lot of activities, and my suggestions are fast and furious. 

Why don't you draw a tree! Do a puzzle! Build a fort! Every idea has an exclamation mark.

If I Gatling gun enough ideas, one will hit, and my daughter will go off happily with an activity.


Sometimes she just wants to crawl on me.

We were in the front yard this past week, after a long walk. I had walked. She had been in the stroller. We/I had walked a very long way to a bike store, which had been closed, and then back home, up a slight incline that I had barely noticed on the way to the bike store, but became K2 on the way back up pushing a 35-pound kid.

So we were in the front yard. Because I was too tired to haul the stroller up the front-porch steps. "Let's rest," I suggested, collapsing on the bottom step.

But my daughter had not walked, and didn't need to rest. She wanted to throw her body as hard as she could against mine.

"Why don't you run around with the dog?" I suggested.

"I don't want to," she said.

"Why don't you run up and down the hill?" I said. Our yard slopes down to the sidewalk. This would wear her out for sure.

"I don't want to," she said.

I glanced out at the yard, blotchy brown in parts, green in others. Most of the actual grass had dried to a crunchy straw, but the clover in the yard seemed to be thriving.

Which gave me an idea. "Why don't you look for a four-leaf clover?" I said. This would keep her busy for hours. I spent my childhood looking for a four-leaf clover, searching every yard, every sidewalk crack, every park, carefully picking through 10 billion three-leaf ones. And it was only in this moment, with my daughter, that I realized that my mother had come up with that activity because I was 3 1/2, and an only child, and she wanted to keep me busy.

I never did find a four-leaf clover, but some of my favorite memories are of lying in the grass, trying.

"What's a four-leaf clover?" my daughter asked.

I showed her a three-leaf clover. "Look for one with four leaves. They're very special, and if you find one, it's good luck."

"OK," she said. She surveyed the yard, and pointed to a nearby clump of green. "I think I'll go search that clover family over there," she said.

I leaned back on the steps and looked up at the sky, enjoying the sun on my face and the peace and quiet of an occupied small child.

My daughter tapped me on the shoulder.

"I found one," she said.

It had been a few minutes. I smiled to myself. I remembered that. Thinking I'd found one, only to have an adult point out that one of the leaves was just folded over. "You want one with four leaves," I reminded her gently, "not three."

"It does have four leaves," she said.

She held the clover out to me. I examined it. It had four leaves. I had spent a million hours looking for a four-leaf clover as a kid and my daughter had found one in three minutes.

I counted them again.

One. Two. Three. Four.

"You have got to be kidding me," I said.

"Do you want me to find another one?" my daughter asked.

I looked from her back to the clover and to her again. "Do you know what this means?" I asked her. "How rare this is? This is incredible."

She placed her hand sweetly on my arm. "Mom," she said. "You can have it."

And she ran downhill to the sidewalk and back up again.

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