And She Was
It's July, and the weather is hot, and we have a few more months of California summer with the promise of beaches and ice cream, so naturally the talk has turned to what we're going to wear for Halloween.
"Daddy," she says to me. "I can brush my own teeth." Among the many things that simply aren't possible, I think, but I know better than to contradict a redhead. "Ok," I reply. "Go for it." She squeezes the tube too hard, ending up with a glob of toothpaste the size of a grape. She brushes, spits, rinses. "Good job," I say. "I'm not done," she replies. "I need to use my Spit." Her Spit is her pink Listerine Barbie anti-cavity rinse. Everything is pink, it seems, and what's not pink is Barbie. And yet her current favorite show is Phineas and Ferb. It's late and I'm tired and I'm overthinking it, the whole concept of being a dad to a little girl.
"Daddy." She rarely asks. She states. Daddy. When I'm being silly, it's simply Dad. When she's about to state the painfully obvious, it's Daddy. "Daddy. We need to talk about Halloween." "Need? Define 'need'." Her brow furrows. "I don't know what depine" - spelling is correct - "means. But we need to talk abut Halloween." I think she's lying. The other day, Beth texted me: "Do you know your daughter can read? She read the words right off of the cover of my book." I texted back: "Of course she can. It's all part of her plan. Watch her closely. Report any suspicious behavor back to me. We need to know who she's working for."
Halloween. "Ok, why do we need to talk about Halloween? It's summer, you know." She rolled her eyes. I made a mental note: reduce the amount of time she spends watch those Disney tween sitcoms. Four going on fourteen. Thanks a lot, Jessie. "Dad. Because Lucas and I have to have our costumes." I'd been spending so much time writing about the boy that I almost forgot about the sheer joy of riding a conversation with four-year-olds, letting it take you where it may, through S-turns and loops that defy gravity and logic. "Ok, so, what do want to be for Halloween?"
Brow furrowed. "Well. I don't want to be a monster. I fink I want to beeeeeeee ...aaaaaaaa... CHEERWEEDER!" "A cheerleader." "Yes, Dad. A cheerweeder." She jumped down off of her stool and began to dance. "A cheerweeder! I can dance, and sing! And wear a pretty dress."
This didn't exactly bother me, but it did remind me of the fact that this was a daughter, who was well on the path to growing into that red hair and the fire that came along with it. "Ok, you can be a cheerleader. Just don't be a cliche'." "I don't know what that means, Dad." She jumped around some more, sang a few bars of "Don't Stop Believin'" ("Don't stop...beweeving!"), struck a pose. "A cheerweeder! That means I can tackle people, right, Dad?" "Oh, I insist on it," I replied.