As I reached down to tickle her neck and laugh with her silliness, a car sped around the corner. It screeched to narrowly avoid hitting a wayward dog loping down the middle of the road. I gripped my daughter’s hand and we watched the dog continue on his way.
“What would happen if the horse got out of his pasture, and a car hit him?”
Deep concern made darling little lines in her forehead. “He’d get all bloody. And he might die.”
“You’re right. And what about the people in the car?” I sought a way to explain the serious injuries that would result from a low-to-the-ground vehicle encountering a hefty animal on long legs, but before I could start, she slapped her tiny hands together.
“The people would be smashed, mama.” She gripped her hands together till her knuckles turned white. Then she released them.
I carried her back toward the fence and pointed to the hot wire. “Do you see why having a fence is so important?”
“Oh, yes.” She nodded twice with serious deliberation. “The horse might forget to stay away from the cars.”
“Sweetie, do you think God puts fences around us?”
Under honey-blonde bangs my captivating four-year-old raised imploring eyes to me and once again asked if she could pet the horse. And once again I reminded her how the electrified fence had made me jump, emphasizing the gravity of my injury with “Owie, it really hurt me.” I rubbed my shoulder for emphasis.
She studied the fence again. “Mama, why doesn’t the horse come over here so I can pet him?”I tapped my cheek. You might say it was a teaching moment, but I was merely living and enjoying the warm day by the river with one of my favorite people. “Why do you think he doesn’t come?”
She stuck her thumb in her mouth then examined it as though it tasted like someone else’s. She wiped it on her shirt. “Would the fence hurt him?”
“Well, maybe.” With no direction in mind, I let my thoughts wander closer to her pace. “Why do you think the farmer put that fence there, anyway?”
Her forehead pushed her eyebrows into a scowl. “He doesn’t like horses.” She held her eyebrows there till I thought they might be stuck.
“Is that right?” I pointed to the shed, and to the pile of hay next to it. “Do you think the farmer built that for the horse so he would have a dry place to sleep?”
She took my hand and pulled me closer. I lowered my ear to her whisper. “No, mama, the horse built it.” Then she giggled.