I was struck by a conversation I had the other night with my two daughters. I’ll try to write it in narrative form rather than the usual movie script form we use on the Interwebs.
I had just gotten home from work and was exhausted due to a stressful situation that had arisen in the past week. As soon as I walked in, my wife announces, “Dad, Ella wants to go to the mall. She wants to go to the Lego Store and Disney Store. Do you want to go? If not, just stay home and rest . . . and do the dishes and the laundry.” Her idea of rest and my idea of rest were a little different.
I looked to my other two daughters to see if they were going to join their mother and their sister. Emma was on the fence, but she had to put in an order to her personal delivery person, “Dad, can you go to the library and get me the first Spiderwick Chronicles book?” They had watched parts of the movie over the weekend.
As the youngest, Anna was whatevers. Actually, I was surprised she wasn’t more excited about tagging along to the Disney Store, one of her most favorite places in the world (after Disneyland).
She looked concerned, though. She turned to me and said in a cute little baby voice, “Daddy, you’re going to be home all alone?”
I replied in the affirmative as I was just too tired to do a trip to the mall.
“Dad, I don’t want you to be home alone.”
“Are you sure, Anna? Mom and Ella are going to the Disney Store. You love the Disney store.”
Truth be told, I would have enjoyed some silent time alone at home.
“Yeah, but I don’t want you to be alone. I’ll stay home with you.”
Although I would have enjoyed that alone time, I was pleasantly surprised that I had a loyal family member to stay home with me. Immediately, Emma jumps between me and Anna and blurts, “Don’t go anywhere. Stay home.”
I was a little confused. What did she mean? Apparently, she was leaning towards going to the mall with her mom, but she had a huge case of FOMO. In her mind, when daddy takes the girls out, that means he is going to satisfy his sweet tooth and the girls get to benefit as well. Mommy, with the taste for the bland and the desire to maintain her figure, did not do the snackage as much.
On the one hand, I had the daughter, who loves the Disney Store, stay home with me out of some naive sense of loyalty. On the other hand, I had the daughter, who could care less whether she goes to the mall or not, restrict me from going out as well. I was not to go out and eat something yummy or do something fun. I was to stay home and be lonely and miserable with my other daughter.
I ended up letting Anna watch an episode of some kid show. Then, we headed out.
“Where are we going to go, daddy? Sky High Trampoline Park? Little Prince Kids Cafe?”
“Umm . . . I don’t think we have time for either of those. How about . . . Game Stop? Target? Barnes & Noble?”
“How about Boba Time [some of her favorite big brothers and sisters work here]?”
“Umm . . . no. How about the library?”
“I don’t want to go to the library. The library is boring. Sky High or Little Prince or Boba Time.”
“We don’t got money and you know what . . .? Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
So, we headed to the library. Anna runs to the kid section looking for some princess books. No such luck. Bunny books, though. Tons.
We leave the library and she agrees it’s okay to go to Game Stop on the way home. She browses around for five seconds and is bored. We did grab some freebies, though.
We head home. Emma is at the garage door . . . livid.
“I told you not to go anywhere, daddy!”
“I got you some Spiderwick books.”
“Oh . . . thanks, daddy.”
I kept replaying the night over and over again in my mind. I don’t know why. Again, as I said earlier, I was taken aback by the initial conversation. It was a funny insight into their unique personalities. I don’t love either daughter more or less based on our interactions that night. I actually love both more because of the innocence with which they shared their thoughts with me. I loved Anna more because it had not occurred to me that she would rather choose to protect me from loneliness over her desire to rummage through princess dolls and dresses. At the same time, I came to love Emma more because . . . I don’t know. It was cute. I suppose you could take her behavior as selfish, but . . . for me, as her father, there was an adorable quality to it. I didn’t take it as a revelation of evil and wretchedness in her heart. I took it as . . . a child torn between wanting to have quality time with both of her parents and being upset that she had to make a choice and then . . . almost regretting her choice.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. There’s no reward here. I imagine I might get some “TL:DR’s” in the comments, but . . . I just wanted to record this little precious moment in my life while it was fresh in my mind. I apologize for all of the banalities as well.
One take-away for me was . . . gratitude towards the Father for a glimpse into His Father heart. The Bible tells me that my loyalty brings a smile to His face and that even my selfishness . . . somehow, someway . . . brings a “smile” to His face. It’s in the Bible somewhere, I’m sure. I think He sees us for who we really are and He is okay with that and He is working with us to move us from who we are to who we could be. In the end, He just wants us to spend quality time with Him. Amen?