“Mommy!! I caught one! I caught one!!!” Alyssa yelled to me from the yard. She was almost dancing.
“Caught what?” I asked. With her, it could be anything from a butterfly to a lizard.
“A red leaf! I got a red leaf!”
Not at all what I had expected. “Oh. Good!” I said back to her.
She stopped dead and gave me the look. She always sees right through me.
Her hands went to her hips. “It’s a red leaf. You know. A lucky red leaf.”
“Ahhhhh! You caught a lucky leaf!!” I said, this time with the appropriate enthusiasm.
Three years ago, when Alyssa was four, and Wyatt was two, and Dylan was almost seven, we were in the car on a trip–a long day trip, two hours one way. About halfway to our destination there was a collective kid-meltdown. (Which is totally expected when you have three children packed elbow to elbow across the backseat of a mid-size sedan.)
Smack in the middle of the flaring tempers and frayed patience, Alyssa announced that she had to use the bathroom. She HAD to go, and she COULDN’T WAIT. And the closest bathroom was 20 minutes away.
So we stopped beside the road and while Alyssa and I were getting things taken care of, she spotted this bright, perfect red leaf on the ground and she picked it up. It struck me odd, because it was the only red leaf anywhere around. All the others were dull golds and varying shades of brown.
As I buttoned her back up, she admired the leaf and touched it’s jagged little edges.
I don’t remember what started the argument in the backseat that day, but I do remember that I felt like Alyssa had come out on the short end.
I said, “You know, red leaves are lucky.”
Her eyes grew a little larger, and she started to grin. “They are? Really?” she whispered.
“They really are. When you find one, it means you’ll have good luck, and a good day.”
She kept smiling while I helped her into the car and buckled her back in, never taking her eyes off the leaf.
Of course, as soon as we pulled out, she waggled her leaf around in front of her brothers’ noses singing, “I got a lucky leaf, I got a lucky leaf.”
So we found another pull off with a shedding red tree and snagged two more lucky leaves. (My husband said I really should’ve seen that coming.)
Turns out, the leaves really did have some magical, mystical power, because they changed everyone’s mood immediately after finding them.
Funny how something so small can be so powerful.
So the other day, after Alyssa caught her lucky red leaf, (in mid-air! That made it even luckier.) Wyatt and I started scrambling to catch one, too. We tore around at every flip of the wind jabbing into the air until we both finally came up with one. I am certain we looked completely ridiculous to anyone who happened to be driving by, but it didn’t matter. We had a ball. We tripped because we were watching the leaves instead of our footsteps. We almost ran into each other. We laughed. We made a memory.
Of all the things that are said and done every day, you never know which will be the ones that your children remember. I don’t know all the details that Alyssa records, but she remembered that red leaves are lucky. And I’m so glad she did.