She knows, this blue-eyed wonder that is my progeny. She knows because I have told her that I lost my job and I do not have much money now. It hits home when you have to explain that there won't be as many trips to the bookstore or the zoo.
Although, it is impossible to resist that look of glee when ice cream is suggested. I have been unable to refuse Her Royal Cuteness on that score.
For her, it is visceral on an elementary level. Daddy hasn't enough money equals fewer books. For me, it is visceral in that it strikes right into my gut. Always. My gut has always been reluctant to play nice. In times of stress that translates into physical reactions that go beyond the typical low-grade grumble. It is a trait I dislike about myself. It limits my effectiveness, flexibility and on the worst days, my ability to be a cheerful human being.
This reared its head not long ago, on a sunny Saturday with my daughter. She was with me for her regular weekend visit, and the time had come for us to runs some errands. Foremost on my mind was a run to the bank, to deposit the next to last bits of income I may have for a while. Grateful that I had something, my stomach was also churning, gnashing at itself as I thought of the great black void of no money into which I was about plunge headlong. I was gathering up my papers when Wee Lass asked if we could take the change from her sheepy bank (its a sheep, not a pig) and count it. Of course, I said yes.
Mind you, the sheep was full. Crammed full. So full I had begun to stack the change on the nightstand next to it. More coins would not fit, as I had been saving all my change for her. Every day in over the past year on which I brought home change I had placed the coins in her bank. My idea was to set up an account for her, in which extra change and possibly allowance could be deposited.
This was to be hers, and hers alone.
We took the coins with us, and I deposited what I had into my account first. We then went to the coin counting machine, whereupon Wee Lass took great delight in dumping and scooping all the change into the hopper. Holy moly, there was so much change. By the time it was done, she had racked up over two-hundred bucks. We were ecstatic.
I told her that for now we would leave it in my account, and when I had more time, I would set up her own personal account, from the proceeds of the saved change. I let her know that I would have to come back later to get that done. She looked up at me.
"Daddy, you can keep it."
"Sweet pea, no, that's all yours to keep."
"It's okay, daddy, you can keep it because I know you don't have much money right now."
I knelt down right there, in the foyer of the bank. My bottom lip was trembling and I could feel the tears starting up in the corners of my eyes. I bit the inside of my cheeks. I had no desire to break down in a public venue, but this was tough.
"Are you sure? That money is yours."
"It's okay, you can give it to me later."
I hugged her, tight. Here was this amazing kid, this sweet daughter of mine lending me money. I thought my heart was going to burst. I didn't what else to say other than to thank her and tell her that I love her. You can bank on this: no matter what, there will always be two hundred dollars in my account. Always.
And my heart will ever be full of love for this wonderful creature who graces me with the moniker of "Daddy".