“Let’s play Dad.”
Putting my book down, I asked her. “What are we going to play, Sophie?”
Smiling a knowing smile, she handed me a large paper cutout doll of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. “We’re going to play,” was all she told me as she sat next to me on the couch, holding a cutout of Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
“I’m going to wear this yellow dress Dad, and you can wear this pink one. Ok?”
“Ok Soph. What are we playing?”
“We’re going to talk about my party.”
Now in my best warbly-pitched-alto-falsetto-Belle-on-steroids voice: “What kind of party are you having Ariel?”
Suppressing her giggles at my play-princess voice, she said, “It’s my birthday party. Are you going to come?”
“I’d love to come! Will there be dancing?”
“No, no dancing. But there will be cake.”
“I like cake. But I like to dance too. Will any princes be coming?”
“Yes, they will be there. They’re bringing me presents. I don’t have any toys in my house.”
“But you have lots of toys. What happened to them all?”
“All my dolls died. They aren’t able to play any more.”
(stifling my horrified laugh)
“Ummmm…ok. I’d better go home to change into my pretty dress for your party. I’ll see you later.”
“Here, you can wear my white wedding dress for the party. It’s beautiful and will look good on you.”
“Thank you! I’ll run home now to my castle and get ready.”
Now at this point I got distracted by homework questions from Jonah, a quick conversation with Janell, and layed my Belle down flat on the couch. Sophie, growing impatient at my “sleeping” Belle said in a sweet singsong voice “It’s time for my party. Aren’t you coming?”
Realizing that I’d better wrap up Jonah’s questions and get back to Sophie I said “But I’m soooooo tired. I’m sleeping.”
“But didn’t you see? The moon went down and the sun came up and my party is starting in five minutes.”
“Ok. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“But it’ll be over in five minutes.”
At this point Belle can be heard muttering under her breath.
“Ok ok…I threw on my dress and I’m here, ready for your party.”
“But it’s over now. You missed it.”
(exasperated princess-y sigh)
“It’s over…but did you bring me a present?”
“Why yes! Yes I did. Here you go. Happy birthday! I’m sorry I missed your party.”
“That’s ok. I love presents! What did you bring me?”
“Why Ariel you’ll just have to open it and find out for yourself.”
(pretending to rustle paper and open a present)
“Oh. It’s a red car.”
“Yes! I know you love cars.”
“But I love pink cars. This one’s red.”
“Let’s play something else Dad. How about Go Fish?”
“Ok, but after a quick game it’s bedtime.”
So we played a “quick game” of Go Fish on the living room floor. My ruthless daughter proceeded to slaughter me despite the fact that she lays her cards face up on the floor where I can see them. Always while singing in her sweet singsong voice, “Go fish, Dad.”
It was at that moment I remembered a favorite line from a movie that I had watched again recently, What Dreams May Come. Robin Williams tells his wife, played by Annabella Sciorra, “Sometimes when you lose, you win.” She may have won the game and had the birthday party, but I won the moments. Sweet irreplaceable moments with my daughter.
Bedtime. Tucking her into her bottom bunk, I wrapped her in her covers like a big burrito and got on my knees for my nightly hugs.
She giggled. “You say that every night Dad.”
“I know I do. I say it because it’s true.”
“But you say it every night. Why do you say it?”
Brushing her blond hair out of her face I hug her again and tell her. “Because I want you to always be able to remember that your daddy loved your hugs.”
“And my kisses?”
“Yes Sophie. And your kisses. Goodnight sweetpea.”
“Goodnight Dad. I love you.”
“I love you too. I bet I’ll beat you in Go Fish tomorrow.”
“Yeah right Dad.”
Sometimes when you lose, you win.
Postscript: After finishing his homework Jonah wanted to play Go Fish, too. So we played…and kept playing…until I finally beat him. A dad’s gotta win sometimes too ya know.
©2011 Jeff A Walker. All Rights Reserved.