So, many of you know that I will get to be a daddy a second time over in 21 days! And when there is a lot going on in life, I have learned not to over extend things. So, instead of cranking out a new post today, I thought I’d pull some thoughts out on fatherhood. I wrote this about two years ago before I instituted the 400 word limit, so be prepared. As I read through it again, I am struck at the power of children. They can so easily bring out the worst in us while calling out the hidden best. It’s a mystery worth giving life to. And, I am learning that parenthood doesn’t always mean having biological kids. It takes a village, so a wise woman once said…but before I get too political, alas, enjoy these reflections on a fall play date between a 27 and 2 year old 🙂
With dinner behind us we were off to the P-A-R-K. We arrived singing the ‘Wheels on the Bus’ song and chanting ‘park’ again and again. She fled from her car seat and the vehicle straight to her park appetizer: the swings. She always begins with the swings. I’d buckle her in to the kiddie seat, and she’d take a few swings before pointing aimlessly and saying, ‘this one.’ I think that’s what she was saying at least, confirmed by her contentment when I moved her one swing over.
I think my favorite moment on the playground was when this adoring five year old girl stomped up to me and said, “sir, you know this is the big kids play area.” Not knowing if she was chiding me for intruding on this non-adult space or warning me about the lack of Claire’s age, she confirmed my confusion by then stating, “you know she could get hurt.” Half defensive, I struck back, “Well that is nice of you to care, but I’ll look after her.” Funny how a nosy little girl can strike up such defense in an ‘adult.’
Piloting Claire to the ground we were now off to the stream. She ran onto the bridge and then past it heading for the open fields. She glibly noted the presence of the afternoon moon as its transparent shape was beginning to emerge in the light blue sky. How does she always notice it! I think: ‘right Claire. The moon in broad daylight. There goes your imagination again.’ But assuredly, when I look up, there it is emerging in the east. I love having her around if for that one reason. She reminds me of the world I so often miss lost in some ‘important thought.’
In the field, the dusk came upon us quickly as we tumbled to and fro catching grasshoppers in our hands. Well, I was catching them and she was refusing to touch them. I forgot how far a grasshopper could jump for its size and the way it can tickle the inside of a closed fist-cage. Claire would tease me by opening her hand and saying, ‘touch, bug, too.’ So I’d catch another one thinking that I could begin early avoiding in her the fear of bugs. So, I’d catch the hopper and say, “ready to touch?” “NO!”, she’d turn and run.
After the rousing session of hopper- clasping was through, I laid down in the field upon the prickly drought-scorched Kentucky grass and let her wander some. She’d explore, and I’d hear a hundred distant “Daddy’s” until she would come back with her find. I thus found myself with a handful of pretty flowers and dirt clods.
Of course we had our terrible-two’s moments along the way, but those didn’t matter compared to the quality time we spent. Laying down and looking at the fading blueness above me, I loved just seeing her with the trees and sky framing her spirally hair and the little pony tail erupting from the left-top of her head. She laughed and ran amidst the countless bugs in the air as the coolness of autumn was making one of its initial appearances.
We left with the good-byes to the park and the slides and the bridge and the field and the bugs and the moon. She had to kiss the swing before she’d let it go. She wouldn’t get into her car seat after I made it clear that she could not sit on my lap as I drove. I wanted to get on the move, so I struggled her into the apparatus with her tears accompanying the scene. This was perhaps the only blatant bad parenting that I produced, but I learned that I need to be more creative with getting her into her seat. Well, a rousing round of the bus song calmed her down and re-focused her attention on the short ride home.
We ended the evening watching some t.v. together, and I put her to sleep after taking her on a short walk to see the now-blackened sky and its luminaries shining brightly. The moon, the stars, a distant plane with its blinking, and the breeze blowing through her de-pony tailed hair capped off our daddy-Claire time. “Good night moon. Good night stars. Good night sky. Good night outside”, she proclaimed.
As I kissed her goodnight in her crib and closed her door, I whispered “good night. I love you”. Through her pacifier she mumbled, “Love you too.” I tossed myself on the couch exhausted but thinking to myself, “I love being a daddy to a little girl.”