Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Starring The Girl

The Boy was out of town for the weekend, visiting Grandma. The Girl stayed with us.

If you aren’t a parent, it’s hard to convey the kind of quiet that sets in when a child isn’t there. It isn’t really peaceful, since you’re so acutely aware of the absence. (The Boy is both exceptionally tall for his age and REALLY energetic – his favorite game is Leap On Daddy’s Back From Behind! – and The Girl is much more easygoing. Kid population down 50%, but kinetic energy level down 80%.) It’s sort of like when you’re climbing stairs in the dark, and you think there’s one more stair than there actually is, and you sort of fall on the phantom stair without actually stumbling. You keep expecting the stair to be there. You’re just off-balance the entire time.

The Girl got the benefit of some undivided attention, of which she gets too little generally. The Wife took a few hours out of Saturday to have lunch with one of her friends, so Saturday was largely Daddy-Daughter day. We almost didn’t know what to do. We read Elmo books and dinosaur books and Grover books; we drew pictures with crayons; we built towers of oversized legos; we wrestled and tickled; she took a couple good naps. It was waaay too cold to take her outside, so we just did inside stuff. She usually gets overshadowed by The Boy’s energy, so it was good to see what it looks like when she gets to define some time.

I feel bad for The Girl sometimes. She’s an incredibly sweet kid, and she has the kind of laugh that would make Scrooge smile. But sometimes she falls victim to the ‘squeaky wheel’ syndrome, and he’s a lot squeakier than she is. She gets some special time with The Wife on weekday mornings when The Boy is at preschool, but special time with me is a little too rare.

She has a mischievous sense of humor. She hid behind a door, and when I walked past, she said a perfect ‘hello’ in exactly the tone I use. I jumped a little, and she laughed openly. I laughed too, recognizing myself in her. She has several of my mannerisms, including some that you’d have to know me pretty well to notice. There’s something humbling about seeing yourself reflected in a 19-month-old.

The Boy came back Sunday, and brought the usual cacophony. I read The Girl an extra story last night.