When the Water Breaks

There are some situations in life when you really have no idea how you’ll react until it happens. Most of these are extremely imaginary. What would I do if I won the lotto? How would I survive a zombie apocalypse? What If I actually did turn this car around right now? One of them is much more real, and I recently experienced it. What if my wife’s water suddenly breaks?

When each of my first two kids were born this was not an issue, it happened while we were already in the hospital. Therefore my only concept of what it would be like was based on what I’ve seen in sitcoms, rom-coms, all the coms. Perhaps it was a little bit of life imitating art, but they weren’t all that wrong.

We were sitting on the couch having a nice evening. It was a little after 8:00 and the kids were both asleep already so were were relaxing, having a nice foot soak (me not my pregnant wife), streaming the latest episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and eating some candy. We were on pace to be in bed by 9:30. An all-around great night that was two full weeks from our due date. Then, right when Zoey is about to reveal her true feelings, Emily says “I think my water just broke.”

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I am pretty sure it was along the lines of, “HUH?” Upon confirming the state of her water, I have to say I maintained a very level head. I didn’t panic and start running around frantically, but rather had a very practical thought about the need to immediately replace our couch. My second though was also very practical – I need to call the our babysitter and have her watch the girls.

Fun side story, my wife had called her mom that morning asking her to come out and stay with us until the baby was born because she just had a feeling that he would be early. My mother-in-law fully planning on coming that day, but was talked out of it by my father-in-law. Still two weeks from the due date, he said. The baby won’t come tonight, he said. Thanks a pant uterus load.

With the future of my couch reconsidered and the babysitter called, I now started to veer away from calm and collected toward Hugh Grant in 9 Months. When Emily half-jokingly said “Of course he’s coming today, I forgot to take a shower this morning,” it reminded me that I forgot to brush my teeth. (My morning routine has really been thrown off by this working from home thing). Naturally, I had the immediate impulse to brush my teeth. I mean, I can’t have my son’s first impression of his father being bad breath can I? Emily quickly informed me that this was not necessary. Time to pack.

In contrast to my wife who had her back for the hospital packed since the second trimester, I hadn’t packed anything yet. In my defense, I am a light packer and it never takes me more than a few minutes to get my things together. Under normal circumstances. I quickly packed the basics: pair of pants, pair of shorts, couple extra shirts, pair of of underwear, back up pair of underwear, emergency pair of underwear. Suddenly I’ve become mother. I will realize later that despite my extra underwear packing I have packed no socks. Luckily, this will be remedied by an available pair of hospital socks. My feet had never been more resistant to slips in my life.

With bag packed and childcare secured, it was time to get going. I loaded the still mostly asleep and very confused kids to my wife’s minivan and we were on our way. They don’t really advertise the 0 to 60 speed of minivans, but we were going to find out. The baby clock was ticking and I wasn’t going to let something like speed limits or other cars on the road get in my way. The kids got dropped off and we got to the hospital safely, and in excellent time.

I dropped my wife off at the maternity entrance and parked the car. When I walked in I had to answer a few COVID-19 screening questions and one fairly obvious question about why I was there. Before they let me pass, a security guard gave me an unnecessarily stern warning that once I go in, if I leave I can’t come back. As if he was giving advice about the totality of fatherhood and not the inconveniences of adjustments in hospital policy.

We got to the triage room and sat down. It was 9:15. Thus concludes the fastest hour of my life.

Forrest Gump as a Bedtime Story

Recently my daughter has added asking to be told a story to her bedtime routine. She wants one each from me and my wife. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d come up with different stories every night, but then I borrowed a strategy from a friend of mine. He mentioned that he has been telling his kid Beowulf for bedtime stories. I’m not exactly up on my classics, so I told her Forrest Gump instead. Which, to be fair, is also a classic.

The great thing about using Forrest Gump, is that is has so many different stories within it you can use it all week.

Forrest Gump

Monday – Magic Shoes

One day there was a little boy who had an owie in his back. He had very strong legs, but his back was crooked like a question mark. So his Mommy took him to a special doctor who made him a pair of magic shoes. They could take him anywhere. But not everybody liked his magic shoes, and one day some mean boys were trying to take them. That little boy ran and ran as fast as he could, and he ran so fast his magic shoes few off! And he ran away from the mean boys and they never bothered him again. The end.

Tuesday – Football and Pee

One day there was a boy who could run so fast, a school wanted him to come play football for them. So he went to play football. When the other team kicked him the ball, he would catch and run as fast as he could until he scored a touchdown. He liked to run and score touchdowns so much, that everybody who came to watch the game would have to yell at him to stop! He was so good at playing football that the President invited him to a fancy dinner, where we could eat and drink as much as he wanted! Well he drank too much and when it was his turn to say hello to the President, instead of saying hello, he said he had to pee! The end.

Wednesday – Ping Pong

One day there was a man who really liked to play ping pong. He was so good, he got invited to go all the way to China to play! When he went to go play everybody was so proud of him that they put a picture of his face on the ping pong paddle!

Note: I know this one is short, but editing out all Vietnam and Bubba getting killed really doesn’t leave much from this chunk of the movie to be re-told to little ears. The other option would just be to list as many shrimp dishes as you can. Your choice.

Thursday – Shrimp Boat Captain

One day a man decided to buy a boat and name in Jenny so he could go out and catch shrimp. He had never been a shrimp boat captain before, but he made a promise to his best friend that he would, so he decided to try. At first he wasn’t very good at catching shrimp, but he tried and he tried. Then a friend of his came to help and they started to catch more shrimp. But a big storm came and all the other boat captains said it was too dangerous to go out to catch shrimp, but the man and his friend weren’t scared of the storm. The big storm pushed their little boat all over water, but they kept on catching shrimp. When the storm was over the man and his friend caught all the shrimp in the water. The end.

Friday – He Just Felt Like Running

One day a man was sitting on his front porch when just felt like running. So he stood up and ran to the end of his drive way. And for no particular reason at all, he just kept going. Then he ran all the way though the city. And for no particular reason all, he just kept going. And he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran until he couldn’t run anymore because he ran to the edge of ocean! But he still wanted to run, so he turned around and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran all the way to the other ocean! He just kept running back and forth until one day he stopped. The end.

So that right there gets you through the work week. If you wanted to go into the weekend and maybe add something in there about finding out he had an illegitimate with a woman who later dies of AIDS, that’s your call.

The week of Forrest Gump was just the start. I’ve told extremely short and G rated versions of The Breakfast Club, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Iron Will, The Great Gatsby, Armageddon, Avatar, and Predator. I’ll admit that Predator was a stretch, and really just an excuse for me to tell my daughter to GET TO DE CHOPPA! I’ve also expanded into songs a bit. She really enjoyed my retelling of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, though she also really enjoys that song so it was a pretty safe bet.

In theory this can go on forever. At no point in her story asking for years (or probably her life) see as many movies as I have, so the challenge won’t be to keep coming up with new ones, but to see how I can make very non-child appropriate movies into cuddle appropriate bedtime stories. Obviously The Godfather needs to happen. Die Hard is a must. Speed would be a good one. The options are endless.

I know it won’t go on forever. No one part of the bedtime routine ever seems to last for more than a few months, and despite my best efforts she’ll grow up and not want bedtime stories at all. But when she gets older I’ll watch at least some of these movies with her, and maybe somewhere hurried deep in her brain she’ll recognize something and ask “Dad, did you steal this movie for my bedtime stories?” To which I’ll reply “No sweetie, I wrote this movie.”

Their Smiling Little Faces are Everywhere

For the last week and half I’ve been working from home. Luckily, my job can be done anywhere with WiFi, so in terms of my work only the scenery has changed. I went from a nice ergonomic desk in a nice new office to an old table in my basement. But hey, at least there are florescent lights! Before I left the office I packed up my essentials and took them home, which I now realize all have my kids faces on them.

I knew I had stuff with my kids faces at my desk, but for some reason it never stood out in the context of a normal office. There are other people in the office and most of them had pictures of their kids, spouses, and pets. Now that I am in an office of one, it feels a little strange to have my kids faces all over my makeshift workspace when their actual squishy little faces are right upstairs. It feels like wearing a t-shirt of the band to their concert. We get it, you’re a fan.

But here I sit with a mouse pad that is a collage of their pictures, a lap top and second monitor both of which having a wallpaper that is them, and drinking coffee out of a mug that has one of my kids baby pictures all over it. This mug is actually a back-up mug which I needed to use after I left my other kid-face mug in the office. Good thing I have to, right? I haven’t had to wear them because I’m yet to change out of my pajamas, but I also have a pair of socks with kid faces all over them. I recognize that wearing those around the house would be too much, but is the rest of it?

Or is this my brand now? Should I go all in on plastering my kids on stuff? I don’t have them on a hat yet. There is at least some appropriate real estate on pants where you could put a kid’s face. Custom made bobble heads. Golf club covers that are their heads. The options are practically endless. Expect underwear.

Though I wonder, now that I am home with my kids, should I have things on my desk of people from work? I’m fairly certain the answer is no, but these are crazy times. If we’re not actually going to interact with our co-workers, maybe it’s acceptable to put up a poster of the person who used to sit across from you and talk to it Wilson the volleyball style. Seems ridiculous now, but we’re only a week into this. Conversations with nobody will only get more normal from here might as well be an early adopter.

Until then I guess I’ll keep surrounding myself with tiny versions of myself and cling to what used to be normal. Because socks with your kids faces on them are normal, right? Certainly more normal than your cat’s face, that’s for sure.

Cracks in the Sidewalk: A Child’s Natural Predator

Since the dawn of pavement, there has been no greater threat to small children than any gap or crack in a sidewalk. Unofficial studies show that these relatively minor and completely avoidable obstructions cause roughly 105% of all skinned knees. All they do is ruin things. Once joyful walks get reduced to tearful treks home. Tricycle rides become a never ending gauntlet of speed bumps. Heaven help you if you hit one on a Big Wheel, that plastic front tire don’t stand a chance.

When my kids were first learning to walk it was not a question of if they would trip and fall on a crack in the side walk, but of how far away from home we would be when the tragedy would strike. The answer more often than not, was very. True, I’ve seen my kids trip and fall down doing such difficult activities as turning left, but a concrete obstacle course certainly isn’t doing them any favors.

Once walking was more or less mastered, next came the impulse to run. What could go wrong when a little person who doesn’t yet have the coordination to get a spoonful of yogurt more than 75% of the way in their mouth decides to flap their lower limbs to see how fast they go? They may not be able to run fast but they sure can go from giggles to tears in less than a second and you’re now carrying a screaming toddler down the street. Which is never a good look for a parent.

Most of the time when a kid falls they are completely fine. The sidewalk, however, is out for blood. Best case scenario there are just some scrapes, but sooner or later there is a cut with visible blood that will need a bandaid. This is the small child equivalent of an amputation, except I am fairly certain the amputee never demands the doctor use a princess bandage to close the wound after surgery.

Now we’ve started to graduate to tricycle. We recently made a trip around the block one crack in the sidewalk at a time. Every protruding piece of concrete stopping us dead in our tracks, my daughters weak little legs not strong enough on the pedals to force the tiny wheel over anything larger than, well, anything. Every few houses we’d come upon the dreaded slab that had been forced out of place by a tree root and now shot up a good 2 or 3 inches. Might as well have been the Great Wall of China.

It is equally frustrating for kids and parents alike. All the kid wants to do is be able to make their way around the neighborhood without being undercut a cement menace. All a parent wants is for their kid to look where the hell they are going. As it was in the beginning, and forever shall be.

What Everybody Should Be When They Grow Up

It’s fun to think about what kinds of people your kids will be when they grow up, and not just what they will do for a living. Sure, the first time my daughter picked up a ball and threw it across the room on a perfect line right to my chest I immediately thought professional athlete. Same as any other rational father. But more important than whatever they will do to pay the bills is how they will live while doing it.

My daughter is currently learning about “community helpers” in preschool. She comes home with picture of mailmen and police officers. She colors pictures of teachers and doctors. She recently came home with a worksheet saying what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her answer was the most perfect response to that question I have ever seen – I want to be a happy face.

To some that might seem like a silly answer, but I can’t think of anything better. I’m sure it was probably unintentional. At some point in school that day she probably saw a happy face sticker or something and that is what popped into her mind in that moment. At least that is what my rational side tells me. But maybe she actually means it. There are definitely worse things to be. If all she wants to be in life is happy, she’s the smartest person I know.

I want to get that worksheet framed. I want to remind her of that when she has to make new friends at a new school. I want to show her that worksheet when she’s a moody teenager and everything sucks. I want to use it as a measuring stick when she starts bringing the dreaded high school boys to the house. I want to turn it into a giant poster and cover her dorm room wall with it.

And I want to be smart enough to learn from my kids. I want to get it tattooed on my person so I won’t forget. My kids don’t care what I do when I go to work, but they sure do know when daddy is happy or sad. I don’t get to choose how many people are ahead of me in line, or how the Tigers play, or how other people are reacting to a virus that’s going around. But I do get to choose to be a happy face.

Maybe one of my kids will be professional athlete. Or an interior designer. Or a park ranger. Or a weatherman. There are a lot of things my kids can do in this world, but there is only one thing I want them to be.

Dad Rock: An Appreciation of Bruce Springsteen

Full disclosure – at almost no point in my life did I listen to music that was currently popular. Outside of a few exceptions like MC Hammer when I was 6 and the Foo Fighters in my late teens/early twenties, the majority of the music I listen has always been at least 20 years old at the time. And while driving around in high school with a cassette of Cat Stevens in my truck might not have been “cool”, it was preparing me for how to listen to music like a dad.

Somewhere between Yacht Rock and Hard Rock lies Dad Rock. Easy listening enough to be kid friendly, yet rock enough to let you hang on to the illusion that there is still a cool factor to it. I assume there are some dads out there who listen to their music of choice regardless of if their kids are in the car or not. I suspect these are the same dads who place letters in the end of the alphabet in their kid’s names. Jaxon’s dad listens to Ozzy in the car. Landyn’s dad listens to Vampire Weekend. Blaze’s dad listens to Post Malone. For the rest of us there is Dad Rock, and at the heart of the genre lies Bruce Springsteen.

In the last two or so years I’ve listened to more Springsteen than I had in my life. Sure, I’ve always appreciated the hits, but never before had I heard “Rosalita” and had the impulse to turn up the volume. I never used to hear “Glory Days” and actually feel nostalgic. I once heard somebody refer to Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” as music dad listens to in the car when he’s sad. Clearly that person never heard “The River.”

I feel like Bruce himself has even become Dad Rock personified. When he was young he was cool. Some might even say sexy. Oh, the times he had. Don’t get me wrong, he looks good for man his age. But then again, he’s a man his age. And sure, he’s still out there touring but you can tell he ain’t what he used to be. He puts out some new stuff but it doesn’t compare to the old stuff. His music is not rebellious rock and roll any more. It’s safe. It’s reliable. It’s dad.

At some point I’ll expose my kids to a wider range of music, but not until the foundation is laid. Hopefully if they grow up listening to classics when they hear what’s new they’ll think “What is this crap? Put on some Phil Collins!”

And I know when they get older they will discover music on their own, some of it good and some of it Taylor Swift, but I feel like I can’t let that happen on my watch. So I’ll turn up “Spirit in the Night” and I’ll be sad to “My Hometown” if it means keeping my kids a way from trash like Drake or Billie Eilish, or, god forbid, talk radio.

The Greatest Punishment of All Time

Today my daughter threw a piece of burrito at me. She was promptly sent to her room. Her initial reaction was fear, she doesn’t like it when Dad gets mad. Then disbelief, as if being sent to her room was a completely unexpected result of throwing a semi-chewed piece of tortilla at one’s father. When she got to her room the water works came on and I thought to myself, she doesn’t know how good she has it.

Not in the sense that in a another time (or in this time with a different father) the punishment would have been a more violent one, but in the sense that being sent to your room is actually fantastic. I love it when I get sent to my room.

Every now and then my daughter sends me to my room. Usually because she sees me hugging or kissing my wife, and she has a zero tolerance policy on PDA. My daughter will walk over to me, grab me by the bottom of my shirt and escort me to my bedroom should she lay eyes on any form of physical affection between my wife and I, and I don’t mind at all. Sometimes she comes right back in a few seconds and I can’t so much as pick up a book off the night stand, but sometimes she sets a timer – which she has no idea how long she is setting it for – and I can get a few pages of light reading in. It’s delightful.

Yet here she is crying and laying on the floor. Does she not realize there’s a shelf of books three feet away from her? Or her CD player and her Disney’s Greatest Hits? Yes that’s right, she has a CD player. She has a few records too. Keeping it low tech keeps Alexa/Google out of the picture and allows you to stay in complete control of the music they listen to. Today its preventing the minor annoyance of “Alexa, play Jingle Bells” in August, but when they get older it will prevent “Alexa, play whatever garbage sounds kids are listening to these days.” I digress.

Anyway, she’s in there acting like I stole her ice cream when all I’ve really done is give her a gift. I wish I got sent to my room more often than I do. Forgot to fill the gas can and now I can’t mow the lawn? I better take a timeout it in my room. Got regular Cheerios and not Honey Nut? I better go think about what I’ve done. Its not even for the reading time, sometimes I’ll just stare out the window. No tears, just a little slice of serenity.

Makes me wish I got punished like a child more often. Not getting dessert seems like a pretty fair penalty for not paying your taxes. Then I’ll have a little bit of peace and quiet, I’ve learned a valuable lesson, and my pants fit better. Everybody wins.

Also makes me wonder where my kids will take this in the future. Maybe when they get older and they have a curfew they’ll give me one too. Home and in bed by 9:30? Yes, please. Don’t get to chaperone a school function? Sign me up. Well, actually don’t sign me up. You get it. Grounded and can’t leave the house? Dare to dream.

I think it could set a good example to show them that I wouldn’t do something to them I wouldn’t have done to myself. And if they don’t like it they can send me to my room.

How Will My Future Kids Mock Present Me?

The other day I was looking at a picture of me and my kids and my first thought was, “That’s a good picture, we look really nice.” My second thought was, “How will this picture age?” Despite how good I think we look in it now, I am sure there will come a time we we look at it and somebody will say, “Oh my god, look at Dad!”

The question is, what about me now will become so mockable in the future? I don’t think I dress like a Dad. I don’t own any clothes that could be described as cargo. I don’t own a pair of white New Balance shoes. I never tuck in a t-shirt. I never tuck in any shirt for that matter. My shorts don’t display an awkward amount of thigh. Will my kids really look back and say, “I can’t believe Dad was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt!” Will I be forced to defend my Under Armor golf shirts as “the style at the time”?

Then again I’m sure fathers throughout history have thought this same thing. Some cave man dad thought he looked fine wearing that pelt he got on their trip to the hot springs while his kids were probably rolling their eyes.

It will probably be the hair. When children get older they are inevitably shocked by the fact that their fathers once had hair. And stylish hair at that. Dad had long hair! Dad had an afro! Dad had perm!

Right now my hair is relatively long, voluminous, and brown. Looking at the generations before me, two of those three aren’t making it past 40. By the time my children are teenagers the recession of my hairline will move from present participle to past tense and the salt will outnumber the pepper, and it will blow their minds I once had to borrow their hair ties to keep these flowing locks out of my eyes. And I’ll run my hands over my head the way an amputee tries to scratch an itch on their lost limb.

One thing I definitely have going for me is not having a mustache. A dad growing a mustache is him placing a permanent time stamp on an era. Any photograph evidence of anything that happens in that time will be from when dad had a mustache.

“Hey kids, check out this picture of your dad at the Super Bowl with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Rock, Barack Obama, and real dinosaur they brought back to life Jurassic Park style!”

“Oh my god, look at dad’s mustache!”

Seeing a Butt: A Parenting Milestone

I knew it would happen eventually, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Three years old just seems so young. I figured things like this happen more in the 5th or 6th grade at earliest. Alas, a threshold has been crossed and life will never be the same again. My daughter saw a boy’s butt.

When she came home from school that day it was all she could talk about. Each time telling the story she made it a little further before she burst out laughing. After about a dozen retellings I got the picture. And now that I have heard the story approximately seventeen thousand times over the last few weeks it is forever etched in my memory, replaying over and over like G rated Zapruder film. See how the butt cheeks move back, and to the left.

The story of how she saw Isaac’s butt, has now reached an almost fairly tale status. My daughter tells it as if it took place in some far off place long ago. She begins every fresh recital with a very enthusiastic “One day…” as if I were about to hear a movie trailer for some epic fantasy movie and not about a pre-schooler’s ass crack. The pattern of story telling has completely taken over bed time. My wife and I have appropriated this opening hook to all of the stories. “Once upon a time” is dead and gone forever. Thanks Issac.

Beyond the annoyance of hearing the story over and and over again, there is an innate sense of fatherly protection in me that wants to smack Isaac in the head. I mean, sure butts are funny. I’d by lying if I told you I’ve never shown anybody my hams. But that’s my little girl, and this cannot stand. Maybe I’ll show Issac my butt, and then his parents will have to hear all about how one day he saw a butt.

There is a chance she will forget about it over time, but I know I never will. Whatever that kid goes on to do in life, he will always be the kid that showed my daughter his butt. Part of me hopes they end up going to school together for a while and they stay friends and I can bring this up again in a random situation when they are easily embarrassed pre-teens. Maybe they’ll end up going to high school together and Lucy will be a cheerleader and he’ll be on the football team, and after a play is over and the roar of the crowd dies down you’ll hear “Isaac showed my daughter his butt!” shouted from somewhere in the stands.

Maybe. Though really I am just glad he didn’t turn around.

*Note: Names of children were not changed. That’s right, I’m calling you out Isaac.

Daddy Daughter Dance: A Tragedy in Three Acts

All week I was telling Lucy, my three-year-old, that we’d be going on a special Lucy Daddy Date, a Daddy Daughter Dance at her school. We were looking forward to it for days, and when the day arrived we both just wanted it to be over.

Act I: Tears

Her dress was picked out. A new little sweater was bought just for the occasion. Mommy was going to give her pretty hair. I remember hearing about how long and painful the preparations for things like proms and weddings can be for women, I didn’t realize that training for this starts so young.

While I was getting myself gussied up, my wife was getting Lucy ready in the bathroom so they could have a big reveal when she was ready. While I couldn’t see what was going on, I sure could hear. Screams. Cries. Downright shrieks were coming from the bathroom. Probably throwing some kind of tantrum about wanting her hair a certain way or something I figured, and I kept getting myself dressed. When I walked out of my bedroom I saw her holding the Boo Boo Ducky (a duck shaped ice pack for kids).

The hair curling pole was plugged in and within her reach while they were getting ready. Any guesses what she touched? If you guessed the scorching hot exposed metal of an incredibly poorly designed grooming device – you’re correct! How we are all walking around with super computers in our pockets but women still make their hair a different shape by using a glorified hot iron poker is beyond me.

Anyway, after crying in pain for about a half hour, she really wasn’t in the mood to party. General sobs became outright cries of “I don’t want to go!” Even the lure of cookies and cupcakes that would be at the dance were not enough to change her mind. But we were going to make memories damn it, and we already paid for the ticket, so it was time for bribery. How about some candy now? If you have a sucker now you can take it with you, AND get a cookie when you’re there!

With bandaids on her fingers and a sucker in her mouth we were on our way.

When we walked in it was overwhelming even for me. Tiaras, balloons, streamers, photo booths, obnoxiously loud music, snacks. Where to start?

Lucy: “Can I get a donut?”

Me: “Yes, sweetie.”

Act II: Donuts

We made out way into the school gym full of other little girls and fellow dads and immediately looked for a place to sit and eat our donut. We sat, but she didn’t eat. She just sat there with a sad, disinterested look on her face.

Sad little girl.

I never thought I would have to convince my kid to eat a donut, but she wanted to do nothing at all. So we sat there and I asked questions hoping the answer to one of them would be yes. Want a bite of donut? Want some juice? Do you see any friends from your class? Do you want to dance? Do you want to get our picture taken? Do you like this song? Will you please take pity on your father?

Finally she agreed yes, she wanted to go look at the photo booth, but only if I carried her. She put the sucker back in her mouth, we wrapped the donut up in a napkin and we make our way across the gym. On this journey through a swirling mass of daddies and daughters something jumped out at me. Somewhere around the age of what looked like second graders, attire changed from cute little dresses to prom dresses – some simple, some downright fancy. I assume the fancy dress girls belong to the three piece suit dads. I decided when Lucy gets older I hope she is friends with the kids of a simple shirt and tie dad.

Upon arrival at the photo booth, Lucy says she doesn’t want to get her picture taken, but would rather go sit back down and eat her donut.We find a new place to sit, unwrap he donut, and discover that the juice box was left behind. I assume its been thrown away or stolen by a prom queen of tomorrow, so I carry her back out into the hallway with our wrapped up donut to get a new juice box.

After being smooshed in my hand while I carry her, the donut is by now just crumbs loosely held together by frosting, but she eats it and I see a glimpse of her usual self as we make silly faces back and forth as we eat. I remember the table of tiaras we passed when we walked in and ask if she wants to go get a princess crown. She said yes – we’re on a roll! The sucker is back in her mouth and we are on our way.

Little girl clings to Daddy.

With a boost of confidence that I assume comes standard with a tiara, we go back into the gym to give the photo booth another shot. Provided of course that I carry her. While waiting in line I ask if she wants to me to put her down and dance. She clings tighter at the suggestion. When it is almost our turn for the photo booth, the DJ stops the music to make an announcement. It’s princess time.

Act III: Princesses

The homecoming queens of Christmas future rush the stage as soon as Anna and Elsa appear. I hold Lucy up a little higher so she can see. I point out Cinderella, Tianna, Belle, and Arielle. She knows them all, she loves them all. She is utterly unmoved by their presence.

Daddy Daughter Dance Picture

Our turn for the photo booth is next when the princesses disperse from the stage to various places in the gym, including our photo booth. As luck would have it, ours turned out to be the Anna and Elsa booth. Surely this will get a positive reaction. She sings or listens to something from Frozen literally every day. Maybe she’ll sing! Maybe she’s dance! She clings to me and hides behind her sucker.

I try dancing with her a little, she stays stone faced. I take her to more princesses – Tianna said she likes her dress! Might as well said there’s no Easter Bunny. Lucy asks if she can have a cookie. Sure kiddo, why not.

A second sugary pick me up helps. She asks if she can go see Belle and she lets me put her down for the first time all night. She puts her sucker back in her mouth and we walk back into the gym. After staring at Belle without saying or doing anything, she walks around for a few minutes trying to get a balloon. Its the happiest she’s been all night and we get some good selfies out of it.

Daddy and Daughter Silly Faces

Sadly, while making some silly faces the sucker (which miraculously has lasted well over an hour at this point), falls out of her mouth and cracks on the gym floor. I try to get her to dance a little more or see some more princesses, but at this point we are both over it. I ask if she wants to go home and she silently nods.

As we walk back to the truck the cold air feels good and we can see lots of stars in the sky.

Lucy: “It was loud in there.”

Me: “I know.”

Lucy: “When we get home, can we watch a movie.”

Me: “Yes, sweetie.”