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Monday, March 11, 2013

Raising Dad

As I look at Parker Pearson and prepare for the (approximately) 5000th thing I would have considered lame before she entered my life I realize more and more just how lame I was until she came along. Exactly four years ago today I began the process of getting a clue.

Our first father-daughter activity was pretty one-sided. As my wife needed to get some treatment after giving birth I had about four hours of wondering, "What exactly do I do with this five and a half pound thing that the nurse handed me?"  Of course, I did what I would be doing anyway.

I watched "Cash Cab", with my newborn daughter.

It is hard to sum up exactly how she has changed how I look at things. An example is happening right now. As I type this, she is asking me if she can press buttons on the computer and now is actually reaching and trying to type the letter "P" because P is for Parker. If anyone else did that I would think, "What a jerk!" (Or some slightly rougher language.)

With Parker, it simply means I will take about five minutes and let her type for a minute and then get back to it. Oddly, I will remember the five minutes of teaching her how to find the letters more than I will remember writing this.

Now, I know that every Dad thinks his kid is different than every other kid in the world. As I would hear people tell stories about how advanced Little Billy and Brilliant Belinda are I would roll my eyes. Now, I just want to try and tell the story of why she is different and is the ultimate Life Force in our world.

The fact that my wife Amy and I read her the same two stories before bed every night may not be totally different. Parker usually changes this up after a month. For instance, I read "Officer Buckle and Gloria" throughout February before Parker transitioned me into reading "It's Silly Time" for the next few weeks. Amy has moved on from a month of "Elmo's Book of Colors" (or something along those lines) to "Who Hid Inside a Horse".

We then sing a duet of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Ten in the Bed" and give hugs. None of this sounds out of the ordinary but that is just the beginning of the 'Nigh-Nigh' Process.

She hugs us and says Good Night and then the magic begins.

When the door closes, she tells us each Good Night again at least six times and then gives us our instructions for the morning.

Please remember that this comes through the door and all in one breath:  "I'm not gonna cry tonight Mommy. Mommy? You stay in your bed and rest and Daddy you get me my chocalate surprise, no wait, we are all out of chocalate surprises so you get me a different surprise and then my Smoothie!' That is followed by several more Good Nights and I Love Yous and notification that this last one will indeed be her last Good Night of the night.

The Rolling Stones do not leave the stage with this much fanfare.

There is back story to all of these things but I do not think it would make any more sense if I included it.

Summing up what she has done in four years is impossible. She has taken this guy who had made a nice enough life out of perkiness and sarcasm into this lump of emotion that will sprint up the stairs because she wakes up and looks into the camera on the monitor in her room and sings, " can come in and get me."

Here are other reasons I marvel at this kid:

When she needs you to get her something, Parker says, "May you please..." as in "May you please bring me more grapes for my cereal?"

The fact that she calls raisins 'grapes'.

She realized that the 'Gummy Treats' we have been giving her were actually vitamins and she said, "I think you two are trying to pull something."

Parker has named our cars "Werder" and "Wico". No reason except, "Well, that's their names."

On the day I was let go from my last job, Amy had her practicing a heartwarming sentence to greet me when I got home. What came out was, "I have something to tell you." She leaned into my ear and said, "You are really proud of me!"

I was so nothing else mattered.

She has filled the glass door at the back of our house (at least the bottom three feet of it) with a combination of stickers and Band-aids with cartoon characters.

She will tell a complete stranger at McDonald's, "We are on the way to see my Mimi and Papa. But first we need to stop at a hotel and maybe swim in the pool but then we will go see Mimi and Papa and I will hug them."

If someone else sneaks into the bathroom to watch me shower or do the other thing that room is designed for, I would clock them. The fact that she does seems strange but also, since it is her, it just seems like one of life's little quirks.

It is fairly normal that she would pretend that she is imagining that she is playing with Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto. It is just a part of Life with Parker that she also pretends that she is playing with Wyatt, who was a side character on one episode of "Special Agent Oso".

If she was a computer, her default setting would be "I love you." Parker can be sitting and doing a puzzle or playing a xylophone and be unable to continue unless she says, "I love you." You had no idea how much you needed to hear that until she said it."

I would write more but I would start to cramp up in my fingers.  Also, thinking about what this kid has done for me is producing this salty discharge from my eyes that won't let me read what I am writing.

I can say she gave me my corniest thought of all time. The first time I made Parker Pearson laugh I thought to myself, "That is my new favorite song." It replaced "One" by U2.

Parker will not know or understand what she has done for me for a long time but at least I want to make sure that I put it out there so somebody understands.