I have the luxury of truthfully admitting that I fell in love with both of my children within eighteen seconds of meeting them. I will never forget the moment Erilyn opened her eyes (what a beautiful moment) or the words Olivia first spoke to me ("When did you get a life?"). In vastly different ways these girls won my heart--one with a look and one with a quip.
But it has evolved infinitesimally since those two moments. I look forward to two events each day on my way home from work. They do not happen every day, but when they do, I cherish them.
The first is Erilyn's eyes lighting up when she recognizes me, and then the feel of her little vice-grip arms latching around my legs. The smile on her face and her up-stretched arms as she frustratedly grunts "UH!" and waits for me to lift her into my arms where I am occasionally rewarded with the "best hug yet". This is a wonderful experience.
The other event is more intricate, for it involves Olivia. I consider myself lucky if I get a conversation with Olivia that turns toward the serious. Some days she just doesn't want to talk. Other days? She doesn't close her mouth. I would like to share two events from this past week that made me proud to be her Daddy.
Both Tuesday and Wednesday, after supper, Michelle had to go to work and I was left with the two girls at dinner, chit-chatting. As I'm cleaning up, Olivia exclaims something along the lines of "Oh! You put the syrup on the pancake, the butter on the syrup, the knife to the butter, the hand to the knife, the mouth to the hand, and the pancake to the mouth. It's a circle!"
"What?" I ask.
"Never mind, Dad. It's a Robert Munsch book. You wouldn't get it."
And you know what? I didn't. I recognized Robert Munsch's name, but for all my English-teacherness I sure thought he was the author of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". He isn't. That would be Laura Numeroff. I'm not familiar with Munsch's books. Olivia says his name as if it ends with an exclamation point: MUNCH!
The next night at dinner, she hops up and leaves the table. She doesn't eat much, really. So dinner is, for her, boring. She's not eating, she's just sitting there. So she hops up and comes back in the room (after my repeated cries of OLIVIA!) holding an abridged, illustrated children's copy of Little Women.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"Reading this book, Little Women by Lousy May Alcott. It's really good."
She plopped down at the table, and began to flip through the pages. She took careful, deliberate care to read aloud each picture caption.
"Jo and the Laurence Boy meet!" she says.
Then, after a moment, she says,
"Daddy, why is a girl in a book about women called Jo?"
I'm pretty sure I wrote an essay in college about this same topic.
Those are my girls! Heaven help me when Erilyn learns to talk.