This morning, after the blear of sleep had lifted, and Sophia had her draught of milk, she looked at me and inquired, “Daddy?”
And, later, when we got out of the pool and flip-flopped our way through the chill of the air-conditioned hallway to the family changing rooms, Sophia said hopefully, “Daddy?”
Then in the afternoon, as we returned from our trip to Target, laden with bags of big box booty, Sophia pushed past me and careened towards her father exclaiming, “Daddy!”
Kevin is a rock star.
When he’s not home:
She swoons over his picture. She pulls his shoes out from under the bed, and tries to stand in them. She says reverently, as she bangs her little fists together in sign language, “Dada working.”
When he comes home:
Like a cat, she hears his key in the lock and is at his feet before he can cross the threshold. She whines and hops from foot to foot, begging “carry me.” And when he does, she throws her little arms about his neck and rests her head on his shoulder, a dreamy look in her eye.
Whatever battle Sophia and I have been engaged in is suddenly forgotten.
And we have been engaged in a battle because, every day, there are battles to be fought. I have spent hours reading to her, encouraging her to eat salmon and soycatash as the floor grew littered with my failures. I’ve grasped her ankles and pulled them up towards her head, turkey-style, trying to mop her twisting soiled tushie before she wiped it on my rug. I’ve dumped water over her head, attempting to rinse the soap out as she clung to me, soaking us both in the process.
I have picked her up when she’s refused to walk downstairs, fallen and doesn’t want to get up, or has unilaterally decided that now is not a good time to leave the playground. I’ve held her through her fears of the lowing cow in the Fairytale Garden, the neighbor’s yippy dog, and the strange man in the grocery store whose silly faces were more odd than amusing. I’ve suffered through endless plays of Raffi singing, “Must be Santa,” Gwen Stefani asserting, “I ain’t no holler back girl,” and the Fridge DJ reciting the ABC’s.
Kevin may be a rock star, but I am rock solid.
And though, at times I want to cry… like when she’s getting sick, but I don’t realize she’s getting sick, and she wants to be held ALL day long. Or when she wipes lox and cream cheese in her hair, right after I washed it, challenging me with a smile…I know that she knows that I’m always there.
Remarkably, Kevin and I are both satisfied with our traditional roles: they suit our personalities, the stage of our careers, and our child-rearing skills. And sure, he would like a little more time (and, sometimes, I’d like a little less). But each is equally important, equally valid. And in Sophie's eyes, we are both heroes.