"Look dad! I made a star."
"I don't feel like looking at it." I quipped back.
And then she started bawling.
I thought I was being snarky and she would immediately relate it back to what she had said earlier, but that's not how it came across. It came across as cruel and dismissive... which honestly she has probably never experienced from me before.
Anyway... not my finest parenting moment. But, there are no take-backs. We fill our lives with irrevocable acts, and its only later we find out which ones actually mattered.
One time, when I was about my daughter’s age, my dad and I were going to the store. I was probably a year into reading and was paying particularly close attention to business signs. When we pulled into a strip mall I asked “Dad, why are the O’s on the Payless Shoe Store sign orange dots.”
“I don’t know. That is a really good question,” he replied.
Let’s be honest. It wasn’t a really good question. It was kind of a dumb question. Knowing the answer to why a graphic designer decided to make the O’s orange dots on the Payless Shoe Store sign probably would not have been a life changing realization. But all six-year-old me could think was ”YES! I asked a good question!”
Even now, knowing that it is a silly six-year-old question, I still get that little tinge of pride in my gut thinking of my dad saying that. There is NO way he knew at the time that he was creating a tiny happy memory nugget in my growing brain. But here it is 30 years later getting written down. I kind of wonder if someday my 35-year-old daughter will be making a tortilla star with her teeth and suddenly become very sad at the thought of me not wanting to look at it.
What’s the lesson I learned? I guess I have two. 1, I need to be less of a snarky asshole with my six-year-old. She understands a ton, but sarcastic teasing is still just dad being a jerk. 2, kids operate on a different scale. I should be proud of star shaped tortillas just like my dad was proud of my questioning of brand fonts. If my kid starts a blog someday I want it to be about how I was proud of silly things, and not that I walked away in a snarky huff.
I want to be the dad that is proud.
|This is a re-creation. This time I told her it was the best tortilla star I had ever seen.|