for  Khalin


by  Dwight  Bernard  Mikkelsen

“PrinceFeet, Daddy, PrinceFeet!”

Oh geez, what’s my son doing out in front by himself?  I’m carefully measuring the beans – almost counting them – for my Sunday morning coffee when I hear his cry followed immediately by the anxious rattling of the front door knob, which is about even with his eyes.  He bursts in just as I get there to open the door.  “PrinceFeet, Daddy, PrinceFeet!”  He wraps his arms around my leg and presses his head against my thigh.

He had gotten up early – who knows how early – unlocked my high security, tempered-steel, burglar-proof deadlock and went out to ride his Hot Wheels tricycle.  Alone.  I had once suggested, “Why don’t you ride on the driveway behind the gate?  There’s no traffic; it’s safer.”  He answered, “Because I can go faster and make bigger skids on the sidewalk.”  He made a good point – what other use does a Big Wheels tricycle have than going fast and skidding big? – and his logic always gave me pause.  But I, being the ‘Daddy’, made an agreement with him: that he could only ride in front if there was an adult watching.  Mostly he followed the rule, but there are times, like this Sunday morning, when a kid just follows his own logic.

“They were following me, Daddy.”

“Who were?


“Who’s Prince Feet?”

“There.”  He points to the sidewalk leading up to our porch and wraps his arms around my leg again.  “They were following me.”

I have absolutely no idea about what, who or where this Prince Feet thing is.  But my son isn’t lying.  And he’s an intense one.  It must be something.  I take his hand and we walk down our front steps and sidewalk until we get to the front of the yard. It’s not far: just like my house, it’s very small.  We stand there looking for Prince Feet.  Nothing.

“What did they look like?”

“I don’t know.”

“Okay.  But they were following you?”

“Uh huh.”


“Here.”  He points to almost the exact spot where we’re standing.

“How do you know they were following you?”


Hmmm.  I’m still not getting this Prince Feet thing.  Hoping for some clue, I look up Peyton Street to my right then down to the left.  No Prince Feet.  I look at the tree in the front yard of my neighbor’s house across the street.  I miss seeing the purple leaves of all the branches John had trimmed off of it and wonder if I should mention my loss to him.  I turn around and look at the tree in my front yard and wonder if it’s even going to live.  I look at the sky: some birds are chasing each other, there are a few small clouds, the blue is brilliant, the sight idyllic.  Still no Prince Feet.  I look at my son again and finally realize what he means.

I walk on the wet grass then the sidewalk and point down.  “Did they look like this?”  He nods.  I kneel down so we’re eye to eye.  “Those are called footprints.”  He stares at them.  “Maybe you walked across the grass and got your feet wet and when you walked on the sidewalk, your feet left footprints.  Like this.”  I repeat my demonstration.  “But where’d they go?” he asks.    “Well, by the time we got back outside, the sun had already dried them up.”  His gaze goes from my feet to the footprints and back to my feet.  I take his hand and together we walk across the grass and then the sidewalk.  My first footprints are already drying up and I point to them.  “See?”  I go on, “So you left footprints behind you and that made it look like they were following you; there weren’t any footprints in front of you because you hadn’t walked there yet.”  He understands my humor and giggles.  He looks up at me, his eyes squinting, “But more than one foot is feet.  Why aren’t they called feet-prints.”  Hmmm…more logic.  “Well, for more than one print, you add an ‘s’ and get prints, right?”  He nods.  “And most of the time, when there are two words stuck together that mean one thing, you add the ‘s’ to just the second word.  So instead of feet-prints we have footprints.”  He understands.  I understand.  We’re both feeling pretty good except he seems a bit embarrassed.

I kneel down again.  “It happened to me once.”

“It did?”

“Scared the heck right out of me.”


“Yep.  And I was a couple of years older than you are.”



“At Nana’s house?”

“Right there in the front yard.”


When he smiles, his big cheeks push up and his eyes become horizontal half moons that brighten up his whole face.  He’s smiling now.  He feels good.  I’m smiling.  I feel good.  Together we walk back inside.

copyright © 1996  NotesLinger Arts

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