Two-dird watder. Please, Dad-da. 

 

Yesterday at lunch at our kitchen table, my 11-year-old, Annie, was explaining to me how she deserved more screen time. She was poised. Brilliant in both logic and delivery. Laughing along at the utter brazenness of the request she was making. Delightful.

But now, 24 hours later, it’s different.

She’s whining. In her bed. Not feeling well. She’s has a cold. She’s exhausted.

She just asked me to get the other box of tissues, the ones in the other room. She needed those, as opposed to the ones in her room. Gave me some absurd rationale.

And I got them for her.

I’m alright with her regressed, delightful, stuffy-nosed requests.

She’s my daughter. I’m her dad.

I signed up for this.

She approximates her voice from when she was about half her current age. She tells me the proportion of apple juice and water she wants me to make: “one-dird ap-ap jooce and two-dird watder. Please, Dad-da.”

I take my leave of her to descend the stairs and fetch her the concoction.

A dad’s doting love has magic healing properties.

Eureka!

On the way down the stairs to get her one-third apple juice and two-thirds water, I have a eureka moment.

Because she is acting below her best self, it is incumbent upon me to be extra kind to her.

Facts:

  • She has a cold
  • Her body is not at its best
  • Her mind is not at its best
  • She is regressed

So, what ought I do?

 

  • I ought to act with extra compassion towards her

 

Let’s compare this to the man who shouted at me out of his car window as I was walking my dog.

I don’t know why he shouted, but, he seemed upset.

I might say that he, too, is regressed—his behavior isn’t matching his highest potential.

Oughtn’t I act with extra compassion towards him, too?

No good will come from shouting back at him.

He probably just needs to be seen. To feel loved. Cared for.

I’m not certain he saw me smile and wave after he passed.

Nonetheless, I will try, as best as I can, to treat people with as much tender loving care as I can.

Because when we are regressed, kindness makes us feel better.

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. —Rainer-Maria Rilke,

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Mess. With intent to douse her brother with water, my 11-year-old Annie tugged on the backyard garden hose. “Stop! Stop! Stop!” I shouted. She didn’t see that the hose, tangled on a garden stake, would damage a portion of the garden if she pulled any further. She...

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