Song: “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities from Capital Cities
(Picture from http://www.whattoexpect.com)
I held her aloft on my shoulder as she giggled and pointed out passing dogs. Each one, every time. I affirmed each observation with a “Yes, that’s a great puppy,” though, I assure you, several were merely mediocre and one was just small and unpleasant.
We were finally entering that period where I was something more than the guy that lived in her house and changed her diaper. She was mastering the word “Dad” or “da” in the parlance—oh how I hoped she hadn’t somehow chosen Russian as her native language through a malfunction of the language acquisition device—she actually seemed excited to see me at times. I was still a distant second to her mom, but I was at least ranking these days.
The downside of the increased closeness, of course, was she actually got sad when I left her at day care or with a babysitter. Disinterest had given way to loud spasming cries paired with big fat tears running down her red blotchy cheeks. Having her be thrilled to see me was worth the price, certainly, but that didn’t make 8:05 every morning any easier.
I confess I don’t know how much of a dad I am. I’d like to think I am of some level of quality. I hold her, I feed her, I talk to her, I read to her, I love her. I don’t hit her or leave her in a hot car or ignore her when she wakes up weeping in the middle of the night. But that’s all basic, really. It’s too early to say if I’ll be a good dad or just one who’s around. I won’t be bad…at least, I don’t think I’ll be bad. But good? God, I really hope so.
There are moments when she gets quiet or falls asleep and I panic. Absolute dread. Why is she quiet? Did she choke and I just missed it? Undetected heart defect? Then she’ll babble to herself or snore lightly and I’d castigate myself for being so silly. I don’t talk about those sorts of things when people ask how I like being a dad. I don’t talk about those things at all.
She grabbed my nose and I honk in reply, triggering a renewed peel of laughter. I briefly wonder if she just thinks nose make these noises when she grabs them or if she grasps that it’s a joke—that Dad is just making the noise for fun.
I often think about this. Does she think I really can’t see her behind her hands or when she has a blanket on her head? Is my daughter growing up with the impression her father is an idiot or suffering from some sort of bizarre visual defect?
Another dog walks by and she points and woofs in her way. “Yep, that’s a good puppy,” I confirm. She smiles, exposing her few teeth and pokes me in the eye. I laugh and squeeze her to my chest. I can find out tomorrow if I’m a good dad. Today I’m just happy to confirm the presence of dogs, to beep when my nose is grabbed, and pretend that hiding under a blanket makes someone invisible.