I can look at Corbett in the rearview mirror and tell when she is re-playing a playground conversation in her head. I make her tell me what she’s thinking because no one ever made me do that. When she’s nervous, I try to expose her fears and tell her the truth. When she wonders who she is, I remind her. But O my GOSH. I did none of that today.
It started when I was utterly unable to understand why she didn’t want to jump out of bed and happily join me in my ten laps around the block. It was 45 degrees, no humidity. I couldn’t fathom how my daughter, my tiny self, wouldn’t want to run in that. After a block or so, I realized that maybe she was just hungry, since she had just woken up and not eaten, so I sat her on the porch with a granola bar and told her I would keep running and be back for her in 4 and a half minutes. Five minutes later, I felt like I was trying to run while pulling one of those toy ducks with big floppy, rubbery feet. She was lagging, her shoes were going FLOP FLOP FLOP on the sidewalk and I was like, “Corbett, what’s up with the feet?” We had a hasty lesson about stride. I was annoyed. No patient, persistent compassion. No mother’s intuition about what was happening on a deeper level. I didn’t care. I wanted her to run.
The day went on like this. I was impatient with Corbett while cleaning the house, making plans with friends, talking about what to do for Father’s day. I was frustrated with her indecision, her daydreaming, her inability to remember what I asked her to do, her lack of desire to run. (That last one was purely selfish, probably.) She got meek and I got mad. Finally, I went downstairs to talk to Jon about it.
I interrupted his work. Told him that we really need to figure out how to train some of the meekness out of this girl. Seriously, Jon. Maybe I need to sign her up for something. He smiled. He loves that little weirdo.
He never wanted to have kids and was devastated when we found out we were going to. He said he thought a lot of people have kids just because they can’t think of anything better to do, and he could think of plenty of things. Over that first year, I watched his despair turn into acceptance, followed by mild occasional interest. At some point along the way, around the ten or eleven month mark, he surrendered. He sent up the white flag and settled forever into that fierce enchantment that is a father’s love.
And today he did that thing that I think I always do. He reminded me of who she is. He knows. He has deliberately considered her identity because he is fervently devoted to her. He has intentionally examined her disposition, identified her genius, and recognized her fragility.
He reminded me that her indecision was partially because she was considering how everyone involved would feel about what she chose, that her daydreaming was probably because she was making up a poem or drawing a picture in her head, her inability to remember what I asked her to do was related to the daydreaming, and the running was because it was morning, and because running is just silly anyway. His face lit up when he was talking about her. He thinks she’s amazing. By the time I walked back up the stairs I was delighted with her again.
I am glad he’s her Dad. Understatement of the century. Happy Father’s Day, Jon. Sorry it’s late.