Parenting Blog

Friday Night With Books and a Mouse

Her mother and sister had already left for their weekend away. They are heading up north. We aren’t pushing back until morning, going south to Virginia for soccer, history and hiking.

I showered first and then she got in with a shower cap to continue preserving the dyed color that clings to her hair.

Neither of us were interested in anything more elaborate than a bowl of cold cereal for dinner. Rice Kripsies. That’s what she calls them still and I’m still not interested in correcting her. I am never going to be ready for when the ‘p’ and the ’s’ get sorted. It’ll be one of the last bricks of childhood’s castle to crumble.

I nibble on some garlic hummus and tortilla chips, grab a handful of lightly salted peanuts, and refill my water glass. We stand in the kitchen together, the nightlight with the goat she painted in 2nd grade brightening up the room as night falls outside.

She’s telling me about Bindi’s Boot Camp, a show on Netflix she had been watching on the iPad in my bedroom while I’d fallen asleep on the sofa listening to a European football podcast. Boot Camp contestants have to eat crickets, move bugs from one area to another, and locate animals in the zoo with a single clue. It’s a favorite of only hers.

She moved on to reading after slurping up the leftover milk and placing her empty cereal bowl in the sink. The teal ceramic clinking against stainless steel. I move into the bedroom with a book of short stories about fatherhood and ask her to bring me my favorite blanket and to come snuggle up beside me with her book about dragons. It feels strange to have switched places. She fetches the blanket but runs away back down the hall saying she’d rather lie on the couch to read. Her voice gets farther away with each word. I don’t take it personal.

About 15 minutes pass. The house is silent save for the barely audible clicks of the ceiling fan above me. I call out to her, to ask what she’s reading although I already know. It’s book 7 of her favorite series. I had just brought it home from the library which made her beam with joy. My question was an easy excuse to hear her voice, to know that she’s okay. Her voice grew louder as she read off the title. Mouse was coming towards me. She hopped up onto the bed, pulled some blanket over onto her legs, and gave me a kiss on my nose.

I told her how one of the stories I read reminded me of something I’d forgotten, something from when she was a toddler. I closed my eyes and said that after I would drop her and her sister off at daycare, they would scamper up to the 2nd floor window to watch me emerge back out into the parking lot. Admittedly, this is now a faint memory, some 8 or 9 years old, but it was still there in the dark recesses of my mind. I can picture myself doing silly things, as Mr. Bean might, like forgetting where I parked, walking like Gossamer would run from Bugs Bunny after he was exposed to the ether, and pretending to collide into my car while looking the other way. I can see their small faces laughing and their smaller hands waving goodbye as I reverse out of the spot and drive away from them for the day.

I open my eyes, returning to the present. Her head is inches from mine. She’s grinning with all of her teeth showing and kisses me on the nose again, waves in my face like a baby would, with an exaggerating level of excitement, and goes back to reading her book about dragons. I rest my hand on her left leg, stare a little too long into the light of the ceiling fan, smile, regain my vision, and start in on the next short story in my book.

I hope there are more memories to be reminded of soon.

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joc