Bill was gone when I awoke to find the sun
shining through our window. Before I had a chance to feel
sorry for him, my youngest woke up with a fever and the
sudden urge to
throw up. What I didn't know as I held Hollie over the sink
was that changes
in air pressure while flying the day before had brought on
an ear infection. That information would come two days later
during a New York City emergency room. For now, I could only address her
symptoms as I left our luggage in the hotel’s
baggage claim area and loaded the girls into the stroller
for a trip to a local pharmacy.
“Will that be everything?” the cashier asked
after I placed a box of Motrin on the counter.
“I need to see your driver’s license,” he
announced when I handed him a credit card.
“Visa and Mastercard require that
be treated like cash,” I informed him. “I work for a
merchant processor and you could lose your ability to accept
both if you continue to ask for an ID.”
“I’m not afraid of anybody,” the cashier
spewed. “Not you. Not a credit card company. Not anyone.”
Flabbergasted and a little frightened by the
man’s reaction, I said the only thing that came to mind.
“What about God?”
“I'm not afraid of anybody, especially God,” he replied with a
defiant look that dared me to say more.
Feeling like an alien in a strange land, I gave Hollie a
dose of the ibuprofen and headed for the door. It was too early to
head downtown so I decided to make the most of where we were
by pushing the girls toward the Toys R Us on Times
Square. The world's largest toy store was exactly what we
needed as we checked out the animated T-Rex and rode the
giant ferris wheel.
We were having so much fun that I didn’t notice the
rain until it was time to retrieve our luggage and meet Bill downtown.
Now what am I going to do? I wondered after learning that
taxis are hard to flag down on a normal day and impossible
to field when it’s pouring.
I tried moving from awning to awning but the
rain was coming down too hard and the canopy on the stroller
wasn’t large enough to cover both girls. In desperation, I
rickshaw driver to pedal me, my daughters, and our large
stroller back to the hotel. I felt sorry for the man as he
strained under the weight of his unusually heavy load. Not
sorry enough to walk. Just sorry.
When the driver dropped us off at the Four
Seasons, I handed my claim check to the employee on duty and waited
for our luggage to appear. Thirty minutes later, I was still
“Are you sure you stayed here?” the attendant
“I know it was a Four Seasons,” I
“Maybe you stayed at the old Four Seasons,”
“There are two?”
“Yes, the Pierre is also owned by Four
Seasons. It's two blocks west and four
blocks north on 5th Avenue.”
In my haste to get Hollie’s medicine that
morning, I neglected to pay attention to my surroundings;
and because both hotels used similar baggage claim checks,
it took a while to solve the problem. Thankfully, by
then the rain
had let up enough to allow us to walk to the correct hotel,
retrieve our luggage, and flag down a taxi.
I said a prayer
of thanks as I slid into the back seat. With time to think as the driver maneuvered
through rush hour traffic, I reflected on all we’d been
through and wondered if it was worth the effort.
have left the girls at home with friends, or had Bill go on
the trip without us, I said to myself.
I could have—but I didn’t. I didn’t because all I could think about
during my first trip to New York City the year before was how
much I wanted to share it with my daughters. Katie has
wanted to be behind the camera since age three and Hollie
loves to perform in front of it. How could I pass up this
opportunity to visit the theatre district and show them what they had the potential to
I was still asking myself this question the next morning
when I loaded the girls into the stroller and set out to purchase
discounted tickets for a Broadway show. After getting lost
several times, I arrived at a
half-price ticket stand
and took my place in the line that had formed
“I’m hot,” Katie complained.
“I know,” I admitted while trying
to shield her face
from the blazing sun.
Thirty minutes later, it was finally my turn to step
up to the window.
“What show is okay for children to
see?” I asked.
is for all ages.”
“I’ll take four tickets to tonight’s
performance,” I announced as I slid a credit card in his
“We only accept cash and traveler’s checks,”
the man in the booth explained.
“I don’t have enough of either,” I replied.
With time running out before tickets were gone, I had
reached a dead end—or a brick wall as author Randy Pausch
would have put
it. In his book, The Last Lecture, the terminally
ill college professor who inspired millions through his
farewell lecture had this to say about obstacles:
“Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance
to show how badly we want something.”[i]
I wanted this for my daughters—enough to say
a prayer, find an ATM, and learn how to use one of my credit
cards as a debit card. Then, with dollars in hand and hungry girls
in the stroller, I raced back to the ticket booth … to
wait in line again.
“I don’t have four seats together,” the
employee announced after I approached the window.
“What do you have?”
“I can sell you two sets of two.”
“I’ll take them.”
Six hours later, we taxied to the theatre
district with tickets in hand. After
a delicious meal to celebrate the
girls’ first Broadway show (and my thirty-fifth birthday
which was also that day), we walked the short
distance to the theatre and found our seats.
Hollie sat with
Bill near the stage and I sat farther back with Katie. This turned out to be a problem when Hollie
began crying for me and Bill had to carry her out of the
performance. Eventually, she calmed down enough for Bill to
bring her to where I was sitting. In one quick motion, he scooped Katie up
and plopped Hollie into the seat next to mine. It was
stressful to make the switch but I was happy to have my
youngest beside me when
one of the
lead actresses sang an amazing solo that prompted me to lean
down and whisper: “That could be you one day.”
With those six words,
the work that it took to get there became worth it as Hollie
straightened up in her chair and gave the
woman on stage her full attention. I watched in awe as this
little girl who barely met the minimum age requirement to
attend a Broadway show, was picturing herself on stage.
Looking back on
that moment, I have to wonder what
the world would be like if all of us saw our potential and
worked to achieve it. Would we find our own version of
Broadway and inspire others to do the same?
David Cook found his version of Broadway
when he became the next American Idol in may of 2008. His
performance of "Dream
Big" inspired millions during the season finale. I was
hoping that David would perform this song when he took center stage at the Allstate Arena,
and I put the zoom lens on my camera to capture the moment.
After snapping a
few photos, I felt a spiritual nudge to hand Katie the
camera. Although I was nervous about letting her use such an
expensive piece of equipment, I set aside my fears to fuel
her passion for being behind the lens.
Katie didn’t take the best photos as she
zoomed in on the big screen rather
than the American Idol himself, but I didn’t mind because I knew
that she was becoming the best version of herself by
trying. If Randy Pausch had been well enough to attend this
performance, he would have
“There’s a lot of talk these days about
giving children self-esteem.” Randy wrote on page 37 of
The Last Lecture. “It’s not something you can
something they have to build … You give them something they
can’t do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and
you just keep repeating the process.”
I want my
daughters to have this kind of confidence. The kind that
enables them to step outside their comfort zone and work to
create a new one. If it requires stepping outside of mine
to take them on a trip or to a concert, then I'll gladly
make the effort. Only when we do, not what's easiest for
us, but what's best for our children can we help them reach
their God-given potential; and show that anything is
you dream big.
to Grow On
“a lot of parents don’t realize the power of their
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, p. 198
“As I see it, a parent’s job is to encourage kids to
develop a joy for life and a great urge to follow their
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, pp. 197-198
[i] Randy Prausch, The Last Lecture,