I would never have predicted some of the questions I’ve fielded from the girls.
And the way they’ve educated the professed grownups who read this blog.
In the mind of expecting the unexpected, I got a question from an 8-year-old daughter of mine who shall remain nameless that actually turned my stomach and made me peek over my shoulder as I researched it at work.
It had nothing to do with Snooky, feminine hygiene or the Oakland Raiders.
So, the first-grader was less than pleased last night with my effort as a goalkeeper to stop her sister’s shot.
“It’s like you’re scared of it, dad!” she said with disdain and disbelief. (Star players sometimes have precious little tolerance for the everyman on the roster). No no no. I can make a remarkable save now and again.
But sometimes, the mind moves quicker than the feet.
And the hands. But usually not the tongue. That’s fodder for another story. “Dad’s not scared of ANYTHING,” I declare with a boom. “Not anything??” she asked, unbelieving. If you only knew, honey.
Know what scares me?
Not for me. But for you kids. I know it sounds silly, but every time we go to Charleston, or any town with a big bridge, I have a nightmare that night. You girls cross it by yourselves, hand in hand, while skies threaten storms, through angry, unrelenting traffic.
Probably with snipers lying in wait, resentful poisonous snakes and oakland raiders fans with weapons and bad attitudes just beyond my scope. Not to mention mean-spirited jellyfish and hungry sharks and really sharp pieces of glass waiting in the waters below.
I wonder in my sleep – where am I? Why am I not with you at a time like that?
I’ve touched on this one, but yeah. When you were toddlers, I’d walk around the little structure, all its steps and poles and slides, and walkways, just to see that you were safe.
It probably looked ridiculous from afar. Things only got worse as you got bigger, and moved to the bigger playgrounds. They seemed three, four stories tall, with no abundance of guard rails.
Watch Dad circle the structure like a clown firefighter waiting for you to fall. A shade or three beyond silly, I realize.
Marie is highly allergic. We check labels, ask restaurant owners about peanut oil, and survey any picnic spot for empty peanut shells or open containers of peanut butter.
When Marie was first diagnosed, I had nightmares. The common thread: She couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t help her.
Her own peace with the condition and her sisters’ hyper-vigilance about all things peanut have eased those fears and stopped the nightmares. But I’ll never rest easy.
4. Being late for games.
This annoys the kids. I feel the need to be on the playing grounds (they hate also when I use this term and not ‘soccer field’) an hour prior to game time, although I admit this happens about as often as I eat a salad before I eat pizza (the land of good intentions).
A coach should check the field for dangerous spots and be on hand to greet his mighty warriors, have cones lined up and balls pumped and goalkeeper shirt pressed and ready for battle.
Or, in my case, to have a snack, get the bench I want and wait for Jesus or Allah to give me a sign whether we’re going to win that day. But mostly to have a snack.
5. My pants falling down.
It’s quite a well-founded fear. I always tie my soccer-pants drawstrings extra tight on game day, after Grace, um, exposed her daddy between the third and fourth quarters on a fateful Saturday morning.
And just in case, I try to always wear my most appropriate/visually appealing drawers.
6. Disney Channel/Nickelodeon.
I fear shows that depict kids who smart off to dim-witted parents, choose to do whatever they want to get whatever they want, and usually with little to no consequence.
Of course, we had this too, in the day, with Silver Spoons and Diff’rent Strokes, but we came out all right, right?
I praise Opie for every “yes, pa!” on the Andy Griffith Show or Beaver Cleaver’s “yes sir!” on Leave It To Beaver. The damage of I-carly and the bratty wizards from Waverly Place has been done.
I have the eye rolls to prove it.
I’d categorize rhinos on the charge, women on the go in really tiny heels, and any form of space matter that crashes to earth in this department, too: Any threat to their bodies that I could at least cushion the blow with my own body.
A natural airbag/safety barrier/chew toy for any oncoming threat.
Kids their age are tender to meteorites and tasty to angry dogs and pachyderms.
8. My girls, dating.
9. My girls, blogging. Someday.
OK, so I just acquired this one, while I wrote this post. I thought about their stories about me being mad or mischievous out there in the blogosphere without an opportunity to edit or correct or cover my assets.
To hear, “wow, did you see what you kid blogged about today??” Getting a forward with a note of sympathy, or a look from a co-worker that tells me she knows more than she should, and isn’t glad about it.