Thursday, January 2, 2014

US

Dearest Daughter,

Not sure if you remember when we made this for Nonny, you and I. We mixed up a tub of casting gel in a bucket in the middle of the kitchen floor, held hands, and plunged them in the goo.

And waited. You were so very patient and so careful not to move while the gel set. The we wiggled our fingers and inched out a tiny bit at a time. Not something I'd want to do every day, but the results were perfect.

And long after you are grown and I have become just a story in your head, we'll still be holding hands


Love, Daddy

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

Once again, your Mom and Larry invited me into their Christmas morning so I could watch you open prezzies. Their continued generosity takes my breath away. And this year, Max took part.. not really sure what all the fuss was about, but determined to get into everything his little arms could reach.

Sadly, I slammed the car door on a corner of my winter coat around Thanksgiving. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal - I do it all the time – except that this time my camera was in the pocket. And my little cheap phone takes so long for a picture, that unless the subject is dead, it’s going to be blurred. So the only good picture I have is this one, taken by Mommy or Larry. And I treasure it. I cannot look at that smile and help but smile myself.
Afterwards, we colored and played dolls and hung out in your room. Then we went to my house and you opened the few prezzies you hadn’t already “puppy-dog eyed” me into letting you open earlier. And you spent much of the rest of the day making things in your Easy-Bake oven. Which I dutifully ate.
All of themSo you know your father really does love you.

A little bit of drama in the night. Like your father and my father before me, you never want to turn loose of the day. So you began acting out.

I don't know why I'm so dense sometimes. You've done this your whole life. Everything would be going along fine and then BOOM - at the last minute all hell would break loose. And it sometimes seemed that you acted worse the better the day had been. And all too often, tired myself, I would lose it and behave just as badly, if not worse. "Why in the hell do you do this?" I've shouted. "Why do you have the screw up such a good day?"

And it finally clicked. Because it had been a good day.. such a sweet day. That was the problem. You knew that once you closed your eyes, it would be gone. And that's pretty upsetting, no doubt about it. That's something I can well understand. It just took me way too long to do so. Sorry.
So I shut my mouth, laid down with you and we talked. And I read Matilda to you with Simon kitty purring between us till you drifted off.
And so closed a good day.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Misc

Dearest Daughter,

I watched Matt Smith's last Doctor Who episode with you last night. And at the weepy end, he said something that made me think of this blog - this message in a bottle to you -- and why I keep posting to it as you grow up:

"I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear."

Games


Dearest Daughter,
I so love playing with you. In fact I would say that other than reading (and Doctor Who), it is my favorite thing in the Universe. Sometimes I’m tired and sometimes I’m grumpy and I grumble. But I hope that you are wise enough to see past that and know that I will always love playing with you, no matter what and no matter when (though admittedly, I enjoy some things more than others).

Last weekend, after we’d seen the movie Frozen for the second time (and I’d given you an Elsa doll for early Christmas), I loved that we reenacted the entire movie from beginning to end. I got to be Elsa, Hans, generic villagers, and the guy from Weaseltown. I especially loved that in the middle of it you whipped out your iPod, managed to find the music on Youtube, and that we recreated all the dance numbers with Barbies.
It makes me sad that some of the games fade with time. It came as a shock to me last week when I realized I had completely forgotten Bad Gorilla and all the other imaginary people you used to play school and occasionally host game shows with (I kind of miss doing all the voices). But all things change. And old games give way to new ones. There’s ALWAYS card games – I like some of the ones you’ve taught me that you picked up at the Y – and while some of the simpler board games like Candyland are starting to pale, others like Monopoly are starting to come on strong.

Tickling is still a favorite, as well as a game we first started when you were a baby – Tell Me a Secret. You bugged me to play that with you ALL last week. I begged off one night because I was convinced you had a cold. But as you know, the “puppy eyes” can usually win me over. And so we’d take it in turns to tell each other “secrets”, getting right up to the person’s ear and whispering in the most lisping, sibilant voice possible so that it tickles beyond belief.  "I've got a sssssecret. You wanna hear my sssssecret? You can't tell nobody my sssssecret 'cause it's a sssssecret and you can't tell a sssssecret 'cause then it won't be a sssssssecret...."
By the time we'd get to the third hissing repetition of the word secret, you're usually convulsing and I’m surprised your giggling squeals haven’t yet called down Child Protective Services on us.

We play a lot of tag in the new house, when my arthritic knees allow. I love that the open floor plan let’s us run riot through the living room and kitchen. And there are so many variations – we’ve done Scarf Tag (a kind of capture the flag with running), Cheater Tag (you are EVIL with the timing on your time outs), Ball Tag (using the yoga ball to combine tag with dodge ball), and ever since you described me as running “like a chicken horse”, we’ve occasionally had Chicken Tag, complete with flapping wings.
If there’s a small span of time before we have to be somewhere, we still play “Doggie, Doggie, Where’s Your Bone?” in the living room. For a short time, it morphed into “Pirate Bone”, where I would pretend to be asleep with my treasure beneath my pillow and you’d sneak up and try to steal it away without waking me and my shouting "AAAARRRR, JIM BOB! WHAR'S ME TREASURE??" (this was back when we were playing "Trolls and Vampires", with me as the stupid troll chasing you to the vampire lair and running headlong into the invisible vampire shield and knocking myself out). But mostly we now play it in its original format, placing an object beneath a stool and sitting on it blindfolded, listening for the other trying to creep up and steal it. Thank God my hearing at least is still sharp.

And that you have never yet learned not to let yourself walk between me and the light. Heh.

And there's the bingo and Barbies we play over the phone when you're at your Mom's (I love it when you do the role of "Other Ken"). And Hangman. And hand games like slap and thumb wrestling kept us entertained through all those long, boring lines at Disney.
So we play. So far as I can, I play whatever you want, whenever you want to the best of my ability. Because while I hope we will always play together, all good things do come to an end. And I would hate to look back in regret one day, knowing I had squandered what I was offered.

Because I really, really DO love playing with you more than anything.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dread

Dearest Daughter,

Ohgodohgodohgod. This is the year I have to tell you about Santa Claus.

You know already. All your friends know, and children being what they are, they've all told you. But it broke my heart when you told me that you never discuss it with them anymore because they just make fun of you for believing.

And you do. You do believe. Deep down you know better, but you just want to believe so hard. And it breaks my heart, both because I've put you in this position, and because I know that something very precious to you is going to be taken away very soon.

And I'm going to have to do it. You won't believe it till I or your Mother tells you. And I owe you that. I owe it to you to look you in the eye and confess to the only lie I have ever told you.

And I would rather take a brick to the face. I would so much rather take some simple, harsh, physical pain.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

You

Dearest daughter,

Life has been hard. Not as hard as many, God knows.. but hard. There have been hurts and reversals, betrayals and regrets enough that I used to waste my time playing “if only.” 

You know that game – “If only this had happened…” If only I hadn’t…” “If only I had….”. Indulging in daydreams of how wonderful life would now be if only one pivotal event had turned out differently. But I stopped that game. Because a thought kept returning that spoiled the warm, glowing image of the perfect life I almost had. 

And it was this – the knowledge that if I changed one thing – if I altered any of those key mistakes where I felt my life had taken a wrong turn – then I would surely alter the path that led me to you.

And the thought of a life without having had the opportunity to be your father so horrified me, that the “what if” game ended, there and then. No matter what joys I might have gained and what pains I may have avoided, a life without you would have rendered those gains meaningless.

There is nothing this world can offer that I would exchange for a minute of the time I've spent as your father.
 
Not one thing.
 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Stories

Dearest Daughter,

For some time now, I’ve not done much with this. Partly because life kept getting in the way – but also because I’m not a particularly disciplined person.  Having thoughts and feelings is easy. Sorting them out on paper so that they make some sort of sense is not. It’s hard work and not much more fun than keeping fit using my treadmill in the evenings after work – and you know how often I manage to avoid that.

It occurred to me this past weekend (while we were at the theater together watching a play.. go figure) that the real problem was a matter of who I’m writing to. I've been writing this blog in my head to some nameless, faceless person who I imagined might be reading it. And honestly, I just lost interest in that person. So while I took notes of things going on in your life that I wanted to write about, I never got around to writing most of them.


But for some reason, while we were sitting there laughing and enjoying the play together, I suddenly realized that I don’t want to be writing this to anyone but you. So I won’t forget. And so you won’t either.

Because we do forget, you know. Sixty year on, I have to struggle to remember the sound of my grandparent’s voices even though they were once as familiar to me as my own. Time fades things. Even the things we love so very much. So this is my record of our time together, so we won't forget. From now on I’ll be writing it straight to you, for you to read after I’m gone.

You know how much I love Doctor Who. And there’s one scene in 'The Big Bang' - the Doctor has (as usual) saved the day and closed the crack in time, but does so at the cost of having his existence erased from history. And before the end he’s come to say goodbye to little Amelia as she sleeps.

“When you wake up, you’ll have a Mom and Dad! You won’t even remember me. I’ll just be a story in your head. And that’s okay…. We’re all stories in the end. 
Just.. make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know. It was the best!”
And it’s true – we’re all stories. When I talk about my Dad to you – to me, he’s so real and my memories of him are so strong that I can almost see him there with us. But to you – he’s just a story.

And one day, that’s all I’ll be, sweet girl – I’ll just be a story you tell your kids.

And this is that story. Let’s make it a good one, eh?