At least three times a week we stop at an intersection that is flanked by an enormous sculpture of a windmill. It is really something to behold. It’s base taller than all the buildings that surround it and the propellers create a massive shadow that extends down the block.

If it really were a windmill it could power a small town.

Every time we drive past my daughter makes the exact same request. She reaches towards the spinning netted blades and says with an almost desperate whine, “I wanna get that Mommy!” Every time she asks I give her the exact same response. “No honey. It’s too big. It’s bigger than mommy and daddy and mommy standing on daddy’s shoulders. It even bigger than mommy standing on daddy’s shoulders standing on top of a house.”

“Really big,” she says.

“Really, really big,” I say.

Then as we drive away we try to list all the really big things we can think of. And as each one is mentioned I say, “That sculpture is bigger.”

But today, for some reason when we passed by it and she made her usual,  “I wanna get that” request, I responded longingly, “I want get that too. But I never could.”

I glanced back at Sage and she gave this really sad yet hopeful look. “You could try to get it Mommy…” she said.

“Can I see you try?”

When I heard this my heart just leapt up into my throat. It was like the strongman game at a carnival where you hit a lever with a giant mallet and send a puck way up to the top of a tower to ring a bell. Some really big guy had grabbed the mallet and sent my heart rocketing upward.

I just drove off crying.

Two years ago my husband and I went to see a twelve-year-old friend in a play. The director had gone all out. There was an elaborate set, multimedia dance numbers, and a stellar cast of middle school girls. To highlight each of her pre-teen performers the director had created a program in which each child had a little bio. It was clear from reading it that the girls had been asked a series of questions that they were told to answer in fifty words or less. Each girl talked of her school, her life ambitions, and lastly her heroes. It was during the 2008 elections so many mentioned Hillary Clinton. Others gave a shout out Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and other fabulous and funny role models. But one of the girls answered differently. Under who’s your hero she wrote, “My parents because they try really hard.”

I was pregnant at the time and could not keep myself from weeping. I leaned over to my husband and pointed to the hero line. “I want our child to say this about us.” I whimpered.

We didn’t have our lives together in many of the ways that our own parents did when they had us. We were struggling artists, we were renting a tiny little Brooklyn apartment and saving up our money to make puppets and do renegade plays on rooftops, our bank account rarely got above four figures. But we were trying really hard; trying to do what we loved, trying to invent things, trying to be brave. So there in that theatre we made a vow that we would show this to our child. We would show her what it meant to try really hard.

As I was driving away from that sculpture I just couldn’t stop thinking, “When did I become someone who would not try to lift a giant sculpture out of the ground?” All at once it seemed utterly ridiculous and unacceptable that I would shy away from attempting such a thing. Sure, logic and science and the limitations of the human body would suggest that I might not succeed, but why not try? Why not let my daughter see me give it a shot. Every day I ask her to try new things and hard things; things that must seem impossible to her.

So, I’m going back there tomorrow. I’m going to limber up, wear my best workout shoes and bring lots of water. I’m going to try to lift that windmill way up into the sky. If I can’t do it, I’ll ask my two-year-old to help. If we can’t do it together, we’ll gather some people off the street to join us in our efforts.   Who knows maybe Friday’s local newspaper will read, “Giant Windmill Sculpture Mysteriously Disappears. Witnesses report seeing it carted away in a Volvo sedan.”

You never know.

It could happen.

It’s certainly worth a try.

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