My daughter is, at this very moment, making a friend. It was a rough start, with some hurt feelings, and many weeks between invites, but the bloom seems to be on the flower today. She is, unfortunately, better with plants than people. When she has success with the latter, it is cause to celebrate.
My husband mentioned today that, perhaps she has problems with hearing, after I shared a little commentary about observing her less than graceful people skills. “Why?” I asked him, waiting for a sarcastic response. “Because, she always talks so loud,” he says. Simple enough. Maybe we should get her checked. I tend to think of her yell talking as an extension of her extraverted personality. I can hear her, 2 houses away. I tend to think of it as showing off, and cringe, as I am by nature allergic to such extraverted shows of personality. She often seems to be my looking glass Alice, all my personality -isms turned on their head and looking back at me from a familiar face.
Her new friend watched her careening down a hill today on her orange bike, in fierce competition with a freckled boy two years her senior. Her friend, a sanguine child with a bit of a tummy and Modigliani face, stood by me where I sat on the stoop, and we watched them together. I was surprised when she asked me a little question. “What was she like when she was little?”
I thought a moment, wondered what loaded the question. “She was wiggly, didn’t sleep well. Never stopped. She was into things. Like now.”
“She looks just like you,” she said to me, alluding to some previous knowledge that it should be a surprise. I imagine that she overheard some conversation between her mother and me, that perhaps led to a later conversation. Somehow, she was possessed of the knowledge that my child looked surprisingly like me, the surprise being our lack of shared dna.
“Yep,” I told her, sharing a story I don’t tell everyone. “The first time I knew about her was when a friend she was living with called me and said ‘Oh my goodness! There’s a child here that looks exactly like you!”
“And then she came to you?” her new friend asked. “Yep.” That was the outcome, in a nutshell.
She thought a moment, as we both watched said child peddle back up the street. “She looks like me” I elaborated, “in the face. But she has her dad’s color.” The friend nodded her wise little head.
“Su hija perdida.”
“Um-hm. Our lost child,” I agreed. Rescued from Neverland. The new friend turned her clear hazel eyes on me.
“But she is yours,” she confirmed, with an astute confidence. Agreed. She is mine.
And her dad’s. Who also came to me, on the very same weekend my “lost” child did. I guess that means he was my lost husband, right? As my own father would say, i’n it great? Or bigger than that, isn’t it the best fairy tale ever?
Let me tell you a little story I don’t tell everyone. One day, out of the blue, when I least expected it, I met my daughter. She had enormous brown eyes, and a million watt smile, and didn’t sleep at all. She was a baby, and after a series of events you don’t need to know, she came to live with me. And on the very same weekend, this fella I knew called me up. And that week, we met for dinner at his house. He was supposed to cook, but showed up late. She was supposed to sleep, but stayed up late. He lived in a 70’s style apartment complex, and we turned the same movie on 3 times, because we never got around to watching it. When I went to get “the baby,” and walked her into the kitchen, the fella said some famous last words. Ask the baby, because she knows them well.
“What did your dad say the first time he saw you?”
She will roll her eyes, and exhale a little, and say in a sing song smarty pants voice, “I know, I know. He said-you didn’t tell me she was so beautiful.”
After introducing the beautiful baby, we sat around watching her. We watched her toddle after the cat’s toy, and at some point, the fella scooped her up, and held her in front of a sliding glass door, so she could see the pool below, shimmering in the moonlight and reflecting it’s blue beauty back onto us. And it was, come to think of it, the very beginning of July. Just a few weeks from today. Those must be the important details, because that’s what I remember. And that’s it. The end. But really, the beginning, because that’s where all true fairy tales end.
We say in Spanish, when two people look just alike, that they are “dos gotas de agua.” What are the chances that, out of the whole world, I’d find my own little raindrop? Or the right fish in the sea, for that matter.
In the christian tradition, we sometimes say that God is the “Father of Lights.” That every good and perfect gift comes from him. What gift, really, is better than a father? In our little world, it seems someone sent him just in time.
When my daughter was about 5, she went through a stage of what I will call now “daddy downer syndrome,” in which she couldn’t seem to find a positive thing to say about dear old dad. (She is currently going through this stage with me, but it seems to be longer lasting. I am calling the current phase pre-preteenageritis;) I will never forget the confluence of two events which a, show her lack of tact in social situations, and b, show her strength of imagination.
We were driving through Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC, and she was moaning about something dad related, and I just stopped her.
“You realize daughter that not everyone on the planet is lucky enough to have a dad? That, in fact, some children start out with dads, but those dads don’t don’t stick around? Other kids have dads, but those dads don’t spend much time with them. To have a dad, a dad who loves you and spends time with you, is a gift. Children without wish they had one. So I don’t want to hear anymore about it.”
Tick-tock. The wheels turned, and what came out was a version of this:
“I know mom; I’ll get on a unicorn, and fly around the world, and find all the dads who went away, and pick them up, and fly them back to their families.
Prob lem solved!
Er, or something. Pretty sure I smiled with amusement and nodded in agreement. GREAT plan child. That was wrong move number #258. (You can ask me about wrong moves 1-257 at a later date.)
Soooo, one day we were in a Gap, and I see Hookie scowling at a little boy, repeating words she often hears from my mouth, but in this case, with 2nd person affront. (I usually mutter it in 3rd person). “WHERE” she demanded, “are your parents?”
The little boy gestured faintly in a direction, and explained “My mother’s over there. I don’t have a dad.”
Uh-oh. “Don’t worry,” Hookie said, not really making eye contact and ramping up with skipping enthusiasm around a clothing rack. “I’ll go find him with my unicorn, and fly him back here, and…” and then I grabbed her. Pulled her, actually, dragged her out of the store as she shouted the rest of her plan behind her.
“HOOKIE,” I said with exasperation. “When a child tells you he or she doesn’t have a dad, STOP TALKING!”
“But mommy,” she said, indignant, “I was just going to go find his dad for him.” With a unicorn, apparently. Probably a uni-pegasus, to be exact. If only it were that easy. Some of us get the gift. Some of you are the gift.
Happy Father’s Day dads, from your little raindrops, however they came by you!
As our friend Dr. Seuss said (and I suspect he would have been pro the uni-pegasus plan):
“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”