In the morning, I’m the starfish of the family. Everyone else swims around me, girls scrambling over me to get at cereal or to sneak handfuls from the sugar bowl if I’m not paying attention. Lauri is ready to go when she wakes up, chatting with the girls, flipping pancakes on the stove with a spoon in one hand and a brush in the other, trying to tidy up the girls hair as they sprint past her. I have both hands wrapped around my coffee cup, looking out the window at our garden, noting that the mist seems heavier this year, almost like rain, and wondering if El Niño will bring us water. The girls slide in and out of my lap, little Lily trying to burgle some of my coffee, and I consider that they may consider me a piece of furniture, as reliable and stable as a rocking chair. This is not a bad thing.
It is early fall, the girls and I are on the trampoline in the backyard, lying down, looking up through the leaves of the valley oak and ornamental plum, the wisteria trying nonchalantly to weave it’s tendrils through the mesh of the trampoline. They jump up and start running in circles, CB one direction, Lily the other, the two laughing. CB decides they are horses, and she begins to neigh, then they are Pegasi, and she flaps her wings. Lily does not know yet what a Pegasus is but she flaps her arms regardless and neighs in unison. Finally, CB, decides that they are also part unicorn and she starts to bob her head as she runs and flaps. I’m sitting in the middle of the trampoline, providing commentary as directed, and they each take turns landing in my lap, then taking off. As the CB Pegasus Unicorn swoops low to regard me, her mane catching the afternoon sunlight, wings outstretched, she shouts “Daddy! Isn’t it nice to be this happy?!” And then she’s gone.
For that one moment, I have it. I’ve parented successfully, I’ve done everything I’m supposed to have done. I stamp HAPPY 8/23/14 into a gold plaque and hang it in my memory.
On Tuesdays, the girls are with me. Lauri works late, and I typically feed the girls, give them their bath, and get them somewhere close to bed. I am not always completely successful with any of these agenda items, but half-done is better than none done.
CB, Lily, and I are curled up in bed, a girl under each arm, reading. Then, something happens. This is gross. Like, totally gross. You shouldn’t read it. Really. You’ve been warned.
Dad: “Bon jour, Happy Lion, said the red squirrel, hardly loo–” Wait… CB, what are you eating?
CB: Nothing. It’s just some snot.
Dad: You’re kidding.
Lily: What are you eating?
Dad: Lily, don’t worry about it.
CB: It’s just some snot, Lily.
Lily: I want some snot.
Dad: Lily, you don’t want this. CB, that’s totally gross, stop that.
CB: It’s just, like, mushy boogers.
Lily : I WANT SOME SNOT.
Dad: NO. *facepalm*