27 February 2009

Daddy's Rough Morning

The day began gloriously. Kim had Friday 2/20 off and its always a pleasure to be stirred by the 6:50am cellphone alarm only to find her still beside me (she leaves for work around 6:00am). I took some extra time in getting a shower and heard Georgia speaking to mommy on my exit from the curtain.

After getting dressed, Georgia was using the the potty and protested, "Daddy, I'm sleepy!" Now, it's 7:30am, and anyone has a right to be sleepy at that time. I certainly was. However, for G to declare this is truly a white flag waving in devastated defeat. On an average morning, I would've climbed into bed and learned if she had slept well, what she had dreamed, and been presented with a multitude of facts (usually determining how many days until Wednesday and her ballet class, that God made the sky blue, or a search for her lost "sleepy socks") but she got up on her own and we didn't have that moment so I wasn't sure if she had a "bad night."


The next half-hour seemed an endless cycle of instructions from us to Georgia reminiscent of continually pushing a boulder. In this case, a strong-willed, stubborn, and sleepy boulder. You see, G comes by piddling naturally. Plus she likes to do what she wants to do because it seems reasonable to her, and she likes to do it at her own pace. Piddling sums that up. I'm a piddler and can become easily distracted or totally engrossed in something at inopportune times. Kim also admits to piddling but I'd say my stock is larger. G never had a chance.
"Georgia, how much do you have left?" How long can it take a child to eat a small strawberry Special-K bar? Usually her breakfast is "bread and butter" (toast) or Cheerios and blueberries. Those seem to go much faster. The bars which she got hooked on from their being at Poppy and Grammy's house seem to take longer. Maybe it's the nibbling off the icing atop the bar first.

"Hurry up, hun. Let's not be late."

"I've got this much, Daddy," she displays a third of the bar between her fingers. Meanwhile, I'm taking time to sip coffee.

By the time she's upstairs the clock quickly reads 8:02am. To be on time, by now she needs to be dressed and at least almost ready to leave to be at school by 8:30am. While this is Pre-K and class rarely starts at 8:30am, one never knows what's on the road between here and there to slow things down even more. Plus, I just prefer her not being tardy now when classes will be different next year.

Delightfully, when I went upstairs, Georgia had brushed her teeth and was half dressed in the day's clothes. So, I brushed her hair, helped her get both legs into her jeans, awaited a sock to be adorned a foot before putting on a shoe, then she wanted to put on both the remaining sock and shoe.

While she got her hug and kiss from a mommy comfy in her bed, I retreated downstairs to gather coat, wallet, keys and cellphone. I heard G announcing she wanted mommy to give her a ponytail. The irritation began to set in as we were clearly in the "late zone."

Soon she came downstairs only to retrieve a box of ribbons we'd gotten her as a Valentine's gift. One ribbon in there would match her outfit and be used to tie her ponytail. Groan.

Next, Kim and Georgia came down because the ribbon needed to be cut with scissors. Maybe I should've had more coffee. After all, it's a Friday and Georgia only has the chance of mommy helping her get ready every couple weeks.

After assisting with her fluffy pink coat and backpack we were finally launching forth from the house.

"Daddy, can I have your keys?" No, she's not driving (shudder) but does enjoy unlocking our cars via the keyless entry. I fished for the keys out of my pants pocket.

"Wait, I forgot my animals!" As of lately, G loves to take along a small stuffed toy. One day, it's her faithful first stuffed friend, Ms. Kitty. Another, a small dog named Baby Puppy. Another day, it's Maggy Mae the stuffed Beagle. Today, Maggy Mae and a birthday party prize-bag game were retrieved.

Finally, we had everything.

"Love you, bye!" I declared to Kim heading out the door. G was stopped in the walkway as if waiting for something.

"Keys, daddy."

The blood pressure ratcheted up another notch. "You don't have them?!" I must've expressed a look to G like she had three heads which was basically how I felt because she got this concerned look on her face.

I quickly unlocked the door and began retracing her steps.

Kim asked, "What's wrong?"

"Georgia's lost the car keys," I growled. Looking along the floor, the dining table, the couch, everywhere she was and could've had them. I assumed she put them down to pick up her animals.

"How could she have lost them in a just a few feet?!" I'm stuffing my hands in all my pockets, fishing around in case I still have them. Nothing.

Kim, trying to be helpful, hands me her set of keys. Again, I dash out the door and breeze past Georgia.

I bark, "Come on, let's go!"

The next statement from Georgia must've been her trying to explain herself or seeking forgiveness but it was completely indecipherable through the crying. She slowly trudged behind me.

"It's okay, let's just go," I firmly said, softening slightly but not taking time to reassure her, not breaking my brisk stride. I started across the parking lot towards my car sensing she wasn't close.

"Come on, Georgia. Let's go!" The pink-coated little form in my peripheral vision was standing on the sidewalk just barely stepping off across the parking lot.

"Georgia, let's go!" She trudged slowly ahead.

By now, I was at my Solara's passenger door. "Georgia Garner, come here, right now!" Her pace nearly slowed to shuffling feet.

Then, it happened. Everyone has this point where they "snap" and the next few moments determine how in control one really is or really is not.

I rushed toward her, grabbed her right arm, and began walking her forward as fast as I could. Her feet were barely able to keep up with the pace as if she were drugged. Reaching the car, I opened the passenger door only to have her trip over my feet and crumple to the asphalt. She was now bawling.

"You're okay, get in!" It was here that I could imagine some nosey neighbors peering through curtains on the phone to police. Now, I know how sometimes we feel judgmental towards a parent and child because we think the parent is being too harsh. Maybe they are, maybe they're not. But we condemn in that moment without knowing anything about the parent, the child, or their relationship.

I released the front seat forward and nearly thrust her towards her booster seat in the back. She crumpled to the floor. Another wave of anger comes over me but I calmly and quickly picked her up and placed her in the booster seat, backpack still on.

"Dear God, help me," I whispered walking to the driver door and getting in.

"Get buckled, we've gotta go," I said loud enough to be heard over her sobbing. She got her backpack off, buckled her seat belt and we were on our way.

A few minutes later, when my blood pressure was down and she was enjoying the party-favor game as if nothing had happened, I apologized. "Georgia, look at me," I said turning the rear view mirror so she could see me and I her. "Daddy is sorry for how I acted back there. I'm sorry for making you fall on the ground and in the car. That was wrong. But when I'm telling you to do something like to come to me you need to do it and quickly, understand?"

Her playful mood with the game evaporated. "Yes, sir," she managed.

"I love you."

"I love you," came out in the same sad tone. Moments later, she was playing the game enjoying life.

After dropping her off at school, I met with a friend who's on staff at First Baptist Church of Laurel. While we were catching up about the previous weekend and week, I reached into my coat pocket and found my keys.

Remember, I had fished in all my pockets and yielded no results. Yet, they were in my right coat pocket. I never put them there. Clearly what had happened is that when G had asked for the keys, I pulled them from right pants pocket but when she had immediately afterward went to get her animals, I shoved them into my right coat pocket among my gloves.

I shared with Steve the full story as yet another example of how daddy's can be big ole dummies. Even more sad, is that the whole time I was thinking, "you've got the keys on you" but didn't know how they were going to turn up.

Sharing the story with Kim, she reminded me that I needed to apologize to her. "Oh, don't worry, I intend to."

That evening, I requested G come see me at the dining table. "Remember this morning, when we were leaving for school, and you wanted the keys? Daddy thought you had lost the keys? I found them. You didn't lose them and I'm sorry for thinking you did."

"That's okay, daddy," she smiled and immediately launched into another tale of her adventures.

Dads, our daughters are precious and forgiving. They think the world of you. Your words, tone, and expressions can literally make or break their day. As Peter Parker said, "With great power comes great responsibility." But I prefer a larger source of power. The morale of this story, James 1:19 "My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." But if your anger is misplaced and causes harm, apologize wholeheartedly.