success and failure (and how so many things of parenthood, and life, defy duality)


“What’s a snow cone?” my almost-six-year-old said this evening.  I’d been telling her a story about a girl and a mouse who thought it was hailing.  (“Tell me a Sally and Joey story and they think it’s a storm.”  For this section, she’d specified that it had to be hail.  In my fiction, quickly spun, the hail was actually someone shaving a snow cone.)  Her question was earnest, so I explained.  Then she asked, “Like an ice cream cone of snow?”  Yeah, something like that, except we’ve had real snow ice cream (bowl of snow with honey, or maple syrup, and sometimes for mama, smoked paprika and cinnamon) and we’ve had cider slushies at the local apple orchard.  But never the iconic Snow Cone.  (How I’ve failed as a parent, I thought.)

Later, in the kitchen, she described her method for peeling garlic. “You start with the tail,” she said, and demonstrated how.  (Maybe not a failed parent after all, I thought.)

And in this way, success and failure curl their necks around each other and get tangled, unsure of who is whom, and whether it matters anymore.

And today in that tangle for me is one of the sweetest bits of being alive.