A Day with Abigail

Last Thursday, I skipped out of work so that [Abigail->] and I could spend the day together before school starts back up for her. She had entreated me to bring her to The Simpsons Movie, so we started the day with a visit to the movie theater at Barton Creek Square Mall to see the animated family in action. (One of my friends’ description of the movie as “three episodes stuck together” seemed pretty apt — nothing over the top, but a solid installment in the series.) From there, we wandered the mall for a while, stopping in at candy stores (for her) and The Apple Store (for me). Kudos to the latter’s staff who let me print out a replacement ticket for the show we were headed to later.

From the mall, we went to Zilker Park, where I had planned for us to spend a few hours swimming at Barton Springs pool. Unfortunately, we were foiled by the staff who had decided that a Thursday in the middle of prime swimming season would be an excellent time to close the pool for cleaning. So we instead took a ride on the Zilker Zephyr to see more of the park. We were taken with the beauty of the place, so took an adventure hike (read “Dad got lost”) through the woods, across the river, and through a nearby housing development. (I still don’t understand how we crossed the river 3 times and ended up back where we started.)

Once back to civilization, I vaguely remembered that there was a botanical garden somewhere in the park. Deciding that we were ready for some well-maintained trails, we motored over to see the plants. We were taken with the whole beautiful area, but especially astonished by the Oriental Garden. Created by Isamu Taniguchi as a gift to the city he loved, it’s a beautiful, intricate oasis in the middle of the city. Koi ponds, lilies, paths, streams, trees, and stepping stones all interweave to create a marvelously beautiful and enjoyable place. Abigail’s relaxation was however briefly disrupted when she realized that there was lurking in the bottom of the pool where she was wetting her feet a 4 foot long snake. Fortunately, both snake and girl escaped uninjured from their encounter.

Finally we headed off to the Austin School for the Deaf, where the Zachary Scott Theater was staging a production of Disney’s High School Musical. The cast was made up of kids just a few years older than Abigail who did a uniformly excellent job with the show. One could tell that they had all worked extremely hard, polishing their performances to a high level of quality, and were past worrying about the mechanics of singing, dancing and acting. They were able to relax into their roles and just have a great time performing. After the show, Abigail darted through the crowd, collecting autographs from various performers with whom she was especially taken.

CROTCHETY ASIDE: The great performances didn’t mask the treacly unrealistic writing or the homogeneous music. After Disney’s delightful Menken/Rice collaborations, it’s disappointing to find them fielding something this bland. Additionally, I have little patience for the Gospel of Self-Esteem: just believe in yourself, follow your heart, and everything will work out great. There was no hard decision for the leads in this show to make — they could win the big game, star in the eponymous musical, and retain all of their friends all at once. There are no opportunity costs in the Wonderful Word of Disney. Instilling this message seems a superb way to sabotage children’s ability to deal with real life when things don’t go well or easily. END CROCHETY ASIDE.

All in all, it was a great day together, and I remain extremely grateful for these opportunities to spend some special time this summer with some of my very favorite people.