Approval Rating

I don’t know why, but Abby always gets sentimental during bath time.  Maybe she feels the way I do, perhaps she understands how fleeting this time is.  Maybe she realizes that these moments, like distant novas, will  burn themselves out before their light reaches us.

Or maybe she isn’t seeing the kaleidoscope of her future, elementary days of hauling a backpack and looking too damn adult, teenage years spent in petulance, college wasted on artists and drummers…Maybe she doesn’t see these things reflected in every droplet of water that she splashes on me.  Maybe she’s just a sweet girl, too sweet.  Sweeter than I deserve.

Whatever the reason, she is markedly more sentimental during bathes.  During a recent bath, she said (Out of the blue), “You’re a good daddy, daddy.”

I smiled, and asked, “I am?  Why am I a good daddy?”

“Because I love you.” she said.

Tears welled in my eyes, though they didn’t spill down my cheeks as they are now, they didn’t muddy my fingers.

Her criteria is so simple.  It’s easy to lose perspective, in all the parenting books, and blogs, and theories.  In Spock and Sears and Faber and Severe.

In my efforts to make my children the best they can possibly be, to equip them for life, I spend so much time focusing on the best way to build confidence, on providing for their needs, on giving enough but not too much.  I agonize over a correction, wondering if it may have damaged our bond, if it was a sufficient deterrent or if the infraction warranted it.  If they understood why they were being punished.  If their diets are balanced, if the shows they watch are impacting their ability to focus or instilling the right morals, if I’m reading them the right books at the right time and whether I’m pushing education too hard or not enough.

Then the polls come in.  Result?  I’m a good daddy.  Reason for this result?  Because she loves me.

And maybe that is why I’m a good daddy, after all’s said and done.


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