Lying down, my little girl pulled the covers up and held her small stuffed bulldog beneath her chin. She moved over to the side, allowing a spot for me to lie down beside her.
Looking up at me as I tucked her in, my little girl removed her arm from beneath the comforter. She slapped the top of her mattress as if to ask me to stay, and with a bright smile she asked, “Daddy, will you tell me a story?”
This is our time together. In that moment, I am nothing else but a father and there is no one else but us. There is nothing more important than her dimly lit room with pink flowered nightlights, which she selected, and I hung along the wall behind her bed.
She requested, “Tell me a story about when you were a little kid.”
So I chose this one:
When I was very young, about four or five, we had a small aluminum boat in the corner of our backyard. And sometimes, I would sit in the boat for hours.
I would sit quietly with a twig in my hands and pretend it was a fishing pole.
Of course, my parents loved this. I was perfectly occupied beneath the tree in our yard.
If the weather was cold, I dressed appropriately. If I needed to use the bathroom, I went back into the house. If I wanted something to drink, I went into the kitchen. If I needed anything, it was only steps away.
But I suppose the real beauty is I always had the key ingredient; I had my imagination.
I would pack a small lunch, which was only a few snacks.
Then I would walk out the back door, down the steps, and then I headed across the lawn, carefully dodging the occasional landmines, which were left behind by our family dogs.
I placed my snacks inside the small aluminum boat with two bench seats that ran across its width; I climbed aboard, and then I was gone.
I suppose I saw myself out at sea. I suppose I saw myself as elsewhere, but wherever I saw myself, I suppose it was good enough to make a young boy happy.
I was easily seen through any of the rear windows of my home, so my parents never had to worry. My mother would call out to check on me.
“What are you doing,” She would ask.
“Fishing,” I told her.
(And I could fish four hours)
I cannot remember when the boat was gone. I only know it was. Maybe The Old Man sold it, or maybe he gave it away.
I can’t remember.
But either way, I loved that little boat.
My little girl asked, “Didn’t you get bored?”
“No,” I told her.
“Didn’t you feel lonely sitting there by yourself?”
“Not at all,” I explained.
I was content. There were no mechanical parts; there was no sound or interruptions.
It was just me and my imagination.
And that was perfect…
As children, we seldom have control over what goes and stays in our life.
We seldom have a say over who comes in and who leaves.
We are seldom able to question why things happen.
We just know they do.
Someday, my daughter will be older. I can see proof of this already. And someday my little girl will have questions about the things she had no control over….like why people get divorced, or why I moved out of the house and into an apartment.
But if I work hard and I pull off my trick; I will be able to teach her to hold onto memories like our story time.
(Just like I hold onto my memory of the aluminum boat)
See, as children, we tend to take things personally.
We don’t always understand, so we see things as “Our fault,” even when it isn’t…
As adults, we seldom have control over how people behave or react.
We seldom have control over what goes or stays, and there are time s when we have no control over who comes into our life and who leaves.
We tend to take things personally; we see things as our fault
….even when it isn’t.
Last night, I saw myself in a room with my child.
I suppose I saw us as together, imagining a tinier, young version of myself, sitting innocently in an aluminum row boat, and pretending to fish over a green lawn in the backyard of my family’s home.
But wherever I saw myself; it was good enough to make my little girl smile.
And that too is perfect