Vail Novice Father: The joy of small spaces |

Vail Novice Father: The joy of small spaces

Kelly Coffey
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – A pink miniature lawn chair, designed for children, sat on a patio on the other side of the common area that defined the middle of our Vail Valley townhouse complex. My toddler daughter discovered it from our patio on a sunny and unseasonably warm afternoon.

Once she focused on the kid-sized lawn chair, she would not be deterred. She walked straight toward it. She did not break eye contact with that chair when I bounced large, colorful plastic balls into her path. She paid no attention to the Labradors that barked and chased sticks around the mowed common lawn my townhouse complex shared. She gave no interest to the magpies that flew overhead or the ones that searched for grubs between the blades of grass. She ignored the piles of yellow leaves, once crunching underfoot so satisfyingly, scattered around the area by winds and lawnmowers, their siren songs now drowned out by a higher calling.

The world is large to the Kid. Every room in the house is an adventure. The staircase is a summit worthy of Sir Edmund Hillary. The couch is a gymnast’s trampoline. Every trip outside is a Lewis and Clark expedition.

As much joy as she gets out of the largeness of the world around her, there is no joy like the joy of discovering something else that’s her size. There must be a comfort in finding small spaces, as if the mini furniture, plastic houses, and playground tunnels signal that the Kid does, after all, belong to this supersized world.

She made it to the neighbor’s patio and climbed into the pink plastic chair. And she sat there. The chair did not rock, it did not bounce, it did not play music, it did not flash colorful lights. The chair did what all chairs do. And my daughter, normally incapable of anything close to stillness, sat quietly, her mouth turned into a satisfied smile, as if it were Christmas and her birthday wrapped up in one.

A small rocking chair sits near the fireplace in our living room. We also have a Kid-sized table with two chairs. The Kid will climb into laundry baskets. She’ll find an empty spot on a bookshelf where she can squeeze her butt in. She’ll head straight to the tight plastic tunnels when she arrives at a playground.

True, what attracts her to these small spaces may be the comfort she feels knowing the world isn’t too big for her. On the other hand, it could be just as easily the smugness she feels knowing she can finally do something I can’t do.

I let her have her moment on the neighbor’s chair. But I couldn’t hold off the awkwardness I felt letting my daughter sit there without my neighbor’s permission.

The Labradors chasing, the magpies swooping, the leaves crunching, the sun shining, the balls rolling, Dad fretting that the neighbors will come out. And all the Kid wanted to do was sit in a chair her size.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to

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