brucekluger.com

    Healthy Kids, June 2001

    Small Wonders
    This father’s day, one dad celebrates the little
    things that keep him happy on the home front.

    By Bruce Kluger


    As I sat down this morning to pull together a few thoughts on Father’s Day, the
    usual list of  parenting themes began running through my headthe special role
    that men play in their children’s lives; the challenge of succeeding as both husband
    and father; and, in my case, the strange and wonderful world of being an at-home
    dad.

    I was just getting that serious look on my face and starting to jot down a few ideas
    when my eye fell upon a bright pink post-it note attached to my computer screen. It
    had apparently been stuck there by my five-year-old, Bridgette, just before she
    trotted off to school with Mommy.

    “Good Morning, Daddy,” the note read in Bridgette’s delightfully loopy lettering. “I
    love you.” Next to the words she had doodled an assortment of smiley faces and
    hearts.

    That’s it! Grinning, I brushed aside my list of weighty observations, choosing
    instead to concentrate this Father’s Day on the smaller, more intimate joys of
    parenting. For although Bridgette isn’t yet in grade school, and her sister, Audrey,
    is barely two, it’s already clear to me that when our kids are grown and out of the
    house, it will be these little post-it-note moments that stay with us forever.

    This Father Day, here is what I celebrate:

        That Bridgette calls me Daddy, and Audrey calls me Dah-dee--but every now
    and then, both accidentally call me Mommy. I take that as the supreme compliment.

        That I can still bribe Bridgette to do almost anything for me with the promise of a
    single Peppermint Patty.

        That Audrey says “No, thank you” when I beg her to finish her dinner.

        That Bridgette has preferred to eat Chinese food with chopsticks since before
    she was two.

        That Audrey sings her version of “Rockabye Baby” (“Bah-buh-bee-Ba-bee”)
    loud enough to wake any sleeping child in a nine-mile radius.

        That Bridgette still thinks it’s fun when she and Audrey wear matching outfits.

        That Audrey still delights in taking a bathsplashing, blowing bubbles in the
    water, and dumping out the shampoo bottles. (I give her six months until she’s
    joined Bridgette’s bath-time boycott.)

        That during last fall’s presidential race, Audrey, then 18 months, would routinely
    (and instinctively) shout “No!” when asked who she was voting for, whether it was
    Gore, Bush or Nader. Indeed, the only candidate in whom she seemed even mildly
    interested was Bridgette.

        That the wallpaper in my kitchen, which I painstakingly hung strip by strip five
    years ago, is now almost completely obscured by a rotating gallery of Bridgette’s
    water color paintings, construction paper flowers and assorted crayoned portraits of
    her little sister.

        That I have finally settled on the one piece of music that’s perfect as Audrey’s
    theme song: Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing!”

        That when I reprimand Audrey for a no-no--throwing her pasta on the floor,
    going near electrical outlets, sending anonymous faxes--Bridgette jumps to her
    defense like a mini-Judge Judy. (This, I fear, won’t be so entertaining one day.)

        That I’ve danced with both of my daughters since they were infants, and, as of
    last month, they’ve begun dancing with one another.

        That Bridgette recently gave Audrey a manicure, and the results were fetching.

        That Audrey recently gave herself a pedicure, and the results are still on the
    living room carpet.

        That Bridgette loves Singin’ in the Rain, chick peas and Audrey.

        That Audrey loves Minnie Mouse, Pez dispensers and Bridgette.

        That last night after my wife and I finally got the kids to bed--Alene reading
    Bridgey a few books and turning down the lights, me laying down with Audrey and
    pleading with her to close her eyes--we coincidentally emerged from our separate
    assignments at the same time, meeting in the hallway between the two rooms.
    Rather than heading off to watch TV, Alene and I looked at one another and,
    without comment, swapped rooms, so we could kiss the other daughter goodnight.

    As I sit at my computer and fondly recall the appreciation my family has shown me
    on Father’s Day past, I already know how I’ll respond to their thanks this year:

    “Don’t mention it,” I’ll say to them. “The pleasure is all mine.”