"I think my face fell off!" shouted my five year old son as he smacked his hands on his cheeks. "I can't feel it!" His mouth looked like a fish as he contorted his expressions to regain some sort of sensation.
"You'll warm up soon," I replied with a smile as I began to de-mummify Jake. A snow day kept both of my kids home from school, so we took advantage and had gone to the park.
"I think I lost a mitten," said my eight year old daughter, frantically spinning to look around her. "Here it is!" She grabbed a pink mitten off the floor and held it up, smiling. "No, wait. That's the one I had. Here, daddy, hold this." Passing me the mitten, she resumed searching her clothing. "Nope, I lost it."
"Did you check your pockets?" I asked. She immediately inspected her right pocket. It was not there, so she checked her left. Not finding it, she again searched the right pocket.
"No it's gone. Daddy, we have to find it. Those are my favorite mittens!" For my daughter, everything she currently wanted was her "favorite." When we had a garage sale, all of her old toys, clothes, and toddler furniture were her "favorite" as well. Still, nothing melts a father's heart quicker than a pitiful plead from his little girl.
"OK, you two sit and watch your Mother Goose video and I'll go look for it." My wife was napping, but I presumed they would be fine while I walked the two blocks to the park and back.
"Thank you daddy!" exclaimed my daughter with a hug.
Warmed by the hug, I stepped back into the cold and trudged through the snow towards the park. Looking carefully in each footprint, I diligently searched for the missing favorite mitten. The wind stung my face and my nose burned. As the sun lowered in the sky, the temperature seemed to drop. Not finding the glove on the snow covered sidewalk, I entered the park. "It could be anywhere," I thought.
The playground was empty as all the sensible parents took their children inside when the chill hit. I looked near the swings, but found nothing. The see-saw yielded no results. There was a green mitten near a snowman, which I promptly put on a fencepost to flag the next parent on a "favorite" expedition. I searched every place that seemed reasonable and a few that were probably absurd. My quest for the missing mitten would not go unrewarded. For nearly an hour, I scoured the park, desperately trying to locate my prize. When the sun began to set, I yielded to the cold. Either the mitten was buried, or someone had stolen it. "Maybe the one who lost the green mitten found my daughter's pink one and took it," I thought. It seemed like a rational enough explanation to convince me to get out of the cold.
I plodded back to the house, but kept a close eye on the ground in case the mitten eluded me before. Hope is a gift of mine that often comes with delusional wrappings. Empty handed, I entered my home to break the news to my little girl. She and her brother were fast asleep on the bean bag chairs in front of the television. Their Mother Goose tape had ended and the news was on. Evidently, record lows were predicted for the night. I slapped my face with my hands to get some sensation. My wife entered the room and saw me.
"Cold enough for you?" she asked with a smile.
"I can't feel my face. I think it fell off."
"You'll warm up soon."
"Leah lost her mitten and I went back to the park to find it."
"Now that's a good daddy," affirmed my wife. "We found the mitten though. It was stuck in her coat sleeve." She pointed to the corner. There, to my chagrin, was my new enemy. The Holy Grail of mittens lay upon the radiator, mocking me.