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The Twentieth Bead

It’s mid-90s out.

F: Daddy, can we ride our bikes now?
D: Sure, but it’s hot outside.
C: Can we ride to the bagel shop?
D (reluctant to commit to a long, harrowing ride downtown in what will surely be aggravating heat): Yes, we can try. But, it’s pretty hot outside, guys.
F: I’m gonna get ready, Daddy.

Suspecting that their enthusiasm would never make it to downtown, Daddy slathers sunblock on Cory anyway, while Fisher, already outside, straps his helmet on. He sends her out to put her helmet on…and forms a plan.

F (halfway down the street): Daddy, you have a good brain. It IS hot outside.
D (looking back where she’s stopped in the shade): Thanks, Fisher. Cory, are you coming?
C: My legs are tired.
D: Um, we haven’t made it off our street.
C: But, my legs are tired.
D: Well, let’s just try to make it to your school. We can stop there and get a drink at the water fountain.
F: That’s a good plan, Daddy!
C: Can you carry my bike?
D: Um, no. You can ride your bike. It’s not that far.
C: But, Daddy…
D: Come on, Cory, don’t lollygag.

The lunch area at their school has about 25 picnic tables shaded under a huge, permanent tent. Daddy stops the two of them there. It looks like a good spot.

D: Okay, guys, ride your bikes over to the water fountain and get a drink.
F: Are you going to stay here?
D: Yes. Go on!

As the two pedal away, Daddy takes about 25 beads from his pocket and casts them in a wide arc toward the shaded tables. They ping around and settle into the gravel. Daddy lies down on the corner table. The kids return.

C: Daddy, can we rest here for a minute?
D (already lying down): Sure. We can get going to the bagel shop in a minute. I’m sure we’ll want to get going in a minute.
F (taking his helmet off): Daddy, this is where the big kids eat lunch.
C (taking hers off as well): We’re going to be big kids soon, right?
D: Right, but not for another year. This year, you will be kindergartners.

The kids start playing some game on the tables around Daddy that basically involves Fisher agreeing to rules that Cory makes up. Daddy watches, thinking, eh, maybe the beads weren’t needed. Their game continues.

F (chafing under all the rule-making after a while): Daddy, can we go to the bagel shop now?
D: Sure, it’s good that we stopped to gather our energies. Do you want to go get one more drink before we continue the journey?
F (putting his helmet back on): No, thank you, Daddy.
C (bending over): Look! A bead!
F: What did you say, Cory?
C: A bead!
F: Let me see.

Cory holds out an orange bead that she picked up from the gravel.

F: Oh, I like that bead, Cory. Daddy, can I find a bead, too?
C: I think the kids must have been making necklaces here or something, right, Daddy?
D: Yes, maybe. Fisher, do you see any?

Over the next half hour, they have a blast challenging each other to find beads. They place them on the lens cap to count them. After a count, a recount, and re-recount, they decide that they have found nineteen beads. Daddy bets that there must be a twentieth bead out there somewhere. “Where is that twentieth bead, guys? Can you find it? I bet there’s a twentieth bead!” It takes them almost another full half hour to find it. Daddy dozes in and out, enjoying the breeze and shade and the sound of their voices.

D: You found it!
F: We have to show Papa all these beads!
C: Yah, can you put them in your pocket, Daddy?
D: Sure, I will put them in this pocket right here. I’ll keep them there on our journey downtown.

Pause.

F: Daddy, do we have to go to the bagel shop today?
D: No, we don’t HAVE to. But, I thought you wanted to…?
F: Well…
C: It’s kind of hot. And that’s a long way.
D: But, I thought we wanted to ride downtown…
F: Well…
C: We could just ride home…Papa will want to see our beads!
F: Oh, yah. We need to show them to him.
D: Well, why don’t we ride down that other street to go home? That’ll get us good practice. And then, we can cool down.
C (moving toward her bike and helmet): Okay! It is hot out here, Daddy.
F: That’s a good idea!
C: Daddy, you have our beads, right?
D (patting the pocket where the beads were, um, replaced): Yep! Got ‘em.

Daddy walks along as they zip in front and return, then back behind and return, practicing turning without stopping, watching where they are going, and moving to the side for oncoming cars. They are red-faced and eager for a/c as they approach the house, having never made it further than three or four blocks away.

F: Daddy, that was a good adventure.
C: Can I have a gogurt?
D: Yes, it was, Fisher. Yes, Cory, you can have a gogurt.

An adventure that involved a shaded nap and cost about five beads…

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