I just realized I've been writing a lot about Ellie lately. I can't help it. She's at such a great, sweet age and provides such great material. Mundane words like "toilet" and "sleepy" sound like an exotic language when she uses them, and she says so many cute, hilarious things, like her rendition of the Grinch, that I can't keep track of them all. I don't know what your experience has been, but I think that whoever came up with the term "Terrible Twos" may have jumped the gun a little bit. At our house so far, it's been more like the "Terrible Threes", or at least that's what we experienced with Ellie's big brother. I sincerely pray Ellie doesn't follow suit and that she skips right over the terribles. It could happen, right? RIGHT?
A few nights ago, after a busy weekend in which we celebrated Christmas with my wife's family, complete with wall to wall sugar-amped cousins and general lack of sleep for everyone, we were trying to get the kids to bed and back into the normal routine. Bedtime was interesting, to say the least, and it took a record 2.5 hours to complete, from clean-up time until the last kid gave up the fight. Ellie was that last kid.
We thought she was asleep until we heard a little soft crying from her room. Then she belted out her trademark "I'm ticked off and need another hug" yell at full volume. "DAAAADDDEEEEEEEE!!!!!" Typing it doesn't do it justice, believe me. It's simultaneously chilling and hilarious. Worried that she'd wake up one of the boys, who we'd just gotten to sleep, I rushed into her room, expecting her to be crying and upset from a bad dream or a hangnail. I should have known better.
There she sat, holding her princess dolly under one arm and her pink blankie under the other while sucking her thumb, looking very tired but very pleased with herself that I'd taken the bait. "Hi, daddy!", she said brightly. Quite the little actor, my daughter.
She held out her arms for that hug. She's a snuggler, so when she gives a hug, she just melts into you. It's pretty great. I held her for a minute, then, getting ready to lay her back down, said, "I love you, sweetie-pie". Drifting toward sleep, she simply replied "Yeah.", and snuggled closer. She said it in the same way you'd agree any simple statement of fact, anything you take for granted, like "the sky is blue", or "Riley's diaper stinks". It struck me how secure a feeling that is, to know with childlike faith and certainty that something is true, without a sliver of doubt. My daddy loves me. This is true.
We do our best as parents, but let's be honest; we don't know what we're doing roughly half of the time. I still haven't gotten my copy of that Child Maintenance Manual they promised me when my kids were born; they tell me it's on back-order. Therefore, I doubt and second-guess myself on a regular basis, so it's supremely gratifying to know that whatever my mistakes, my kids know they're loved. I hear that girls' lives get just a bit more complicated as they get older. If you've had or have ever been a teenage girl, you probably have an idea of what I'm talking about, so I'm glad Ellie knows that some things are constant.
The sky is blue, and my daddy loves me.