I don’t know if this is a Dad thing, but sometimes you want things and I think “oh, she’s just a kid…she wants lots of things and this is just one of many things she’ll soon forget about.” And then sometimes, you want a thing, and I’m overcome with a desire to obtain it for you. I mean like bat-house, Golumn-style obsessed.
One day when we were living in the apartment, Noelle asked us to pick up some vegetables for a CSA she was trying. We got the food in someone’s backyard down the street from where we lived. When we got there, you saw what may have been your first tree-house. And you wanted one. You wanted it badly. It wasn’t a bratty want…it was more like “wow…I can’t believe the world has such beautiful things in it; will I ever be so fortunate to possess such a thing?” That kind of want triggers something in me, some deep-seated provider instinct that once compelled my ancient forefathers to doggy-paddle white rapids and scale craggy cliffs to nick the spawn of some rare, carnivorous bird as a token of affection.
Mom thought I was being silly. (She was right.) But I couldn’t let it go. My daughter wanted a thing that any kid should be able to have. I could build a tree-house in my sleep…but not without a backyard.
I grew up poor compared to your upbringing–which I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times by now. All things are relative and of course we lived like kings compared to some people in the world, but one year we had (almost) no Christmas because my Dad lost his job. We never really did vacations (except one budget road trip to Niagara Falls). We hardly ever ate out. Ice cream or a trip to McDonalds was an EVENT. It didn’t make me miserable and I have fond memories of being pretty easy to entertain. But I’m sure my Dad often felt pain over what he couldn’t give us. One year he, in his own words, “scrubbed toilets working nights” so he could buy us an Atari. My guess is that it made him feel great that Christmas.
Back in 2010, I was attached to the idea that more money meant I could give you more which meant you’d be more happy. Because it all comes down to this: I don’t want to make you a tree-house, I want to make you happy. But making happiness in another human being, if not wholly fallacious, is infinitely more complex than designing and building a boat bed. So the mind rejects abstractions and says “buy,” or “build.”
Sharing happiness is really easy, though. It costs nothing. And you are the reigning expert in our home. You do it every day when I come home from work. You do it when you see me in the morning, when you ask me at night what we’re “going to do tomorrow,” when you ask to decorate our house for a holiday, when you make up silly dances, burp in my face, play with my beard, climb on my lap, ask to have a foot fight….almost every second of every day for you is about living in joy and wanting us to share it with you. You are a living, walking, breathing (sometimes twirling) invitation to be joyful.
This may sound bizarre, but thank you so much for being in my life and being you.