Monday, April 25, 2011

FTT Off-Topic: Blink

The Shooter Daughters are now 5 and 11. One of the things that I do, as a dad who feels bad about the length of his commute and the amount of time I spend in fairly solitary hobbies (working, writing, blogging, poker, fantasy sports -- i.e., hustling for nickels), is read to them at bedtime. Kids need routine, and by doing this, I get them settled for bed. Besides, as you might have guessed from the times when I post, I'm better at night, and the Shooter Wife is better in the morning. It works out.

This past week, we've hosted my teenage niece, who has stayed in the eldest's room. So there hasn't been as much putting the eldest to bed, since reading to an 11-year-old is not something that generally works with an audience. So it's been a week since I've read to her. We got back to the routine tonight.

The eldest has also been fighting through occasional minor health problems, and is losing the last of her baby teeth, and just not comfortable. So after I read to her, she just wanted me there, to help her settle, to reconnect, to be present. I didn't mind. And as I lay there, listening to her breathing, and slowly but surely trying to free my arm from underneath her, so as to get free without waking her...

Well, it's something of a flashback, since it's not like this hasn't happened before. Only then, she was a lot smaller. It was easier, of course. We had fans and lullabies and dehumidifiers and no Big Questions, no growing pains or little sister to read to first, no sleepover evidence that she could stay up all night if her mind was just occupied enough. But it's still more or less the same thing as always, the slow wait until the breathing goes long, the same sense of creating the illusion that everything is well, everything is still, everything is safe and serene and dull and ready for shutdown.

And like anything that you do enough times, then don't do for a little while and come back to, it feels a little different, meaningful. I'm blessed to have these people in my life, blessed to have the opportunity to make the people in my life feel safe and secure... and aware, always aware, how these times are passing, and how things will not stay the same.

Just a few blinks ago, she was tiny, fit into my arm, fell asleep in seconds, so long as I kept the pace of the rocking chair steady.

A couple of blinks ago, she was small, listening harder than anyone else can, sobbing when a character in a Harry Potter book died.

A blink ago, she was awake. And now, not.

So notice it when it happens, remember how it felt, write it down so you remember it. After all, it's what writers do. And dads.

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