She looks at me coming in through the front screen door and she stops dead in her tracks.
I smile my smile at her and hook her in the eyes. “Hi, baby!” I say to her. “How’s it goin’?!”
In a perfect world she would run to me, I would grab her up in my arms, and pull her up high and close.
If the stars were all aligned just right, I could give her a smooch on the forehead/let my three-day old stubble sand her soft cheeks/make her give me one of those Eskimo kisses that she learned somewhere along the way.
But, I can tell by the look in her eye that today isn’t one of those days.
What happens next … it isn’t my favorite reaction when I walk in the house after a morning of chasing mountain turkeys across rocky slopes, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a pretty common one these days.
“Hi, Ms. Violet!” I throw at her, just to help her pull the trigger on the move that I know is coming. She doesn’t say a word. In her face, there is a bit of sunshine: she is, after all, happy to see me. But, there are way too many new hot wires criss-crossing up in her system to process exactly what she is feeling.
Her excitement is narcotic. Me walking though the door is too much, too soon.
In pretty cool slow motion, she falls down in a heap upon the hardwood floorboards and looks directly at me and starts to cry precisely as if we are entering the 10th hour of burning her milky wrists with the tip of a lit cigarette or something insane like that. Her eyes never leave me and in the midst of the wailing and screaming, in the heart of the dark jungle of pure sadness she has suddenly decided to become, I can get just a peek at what’s behind the veil of tears. It’s always the same. This gig is the same song, in the same order, every single day.
I watch her watch me and I see the inimitable face of curiosity flickering just behind her face. It’s like looking up at the midnight sky, trying to spot The Man On The Moon. You squint and look every which way, but no dice. And then, just when you think you are done with all this, that big goon’s face appears so clearly to you, so incredibly perfectly backlit and looking down directly at you, that it blows your mind a little.
I watch my three-year-old daughter kind of spazzing out on the floor in her half-break dance/half-I’ve Fallen-And-I-Can’t-Get-Up routine and I see so clearly that this is just her complicated way of simply saying, “Hi Dad! I’m glad to see you!”
We are in the thick of it now, her mom and me. We find kiddo freak-outs waiting for us everywhere.
We pull back shower curtains where we left her twenty seconds ago and whadyaknow, it’s Norman Bates waving a rubber dolphin over a good twelve inch drift of lukewarm Mr. Bubbles.
We go to unhook a Violet who was smiling fifteen seconds ago out of her car seat and instead there is a freakin’ crackhead clawing at our forearms and blowing anger foam through her nose holes.
We don’t know what to do. There is nothing we can do. We love a heart that likes to hide. We love a pretzel’d soul who just keeps creeping around/freaking us out, like October yellow jackets hanging out in the bottom of our coffee cups.
We love a toddler.
And she loves us back.
But, I’ll be damned if somewhere out there the Devil isn’t holding an old joystick and grinning out from under his super creepy pencil thin mustache.
Photo Credit: redreporter.com
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