18 December 2008

Sing Sweet Music To Rock My Soul

“Daddy, did you forget your briefcase?” A four-year old using the word briefcase like SHE carries one. It always makes me smile. Except this morning, it made me catch my breath. I wasn’t sure how to answer, so I played along.

“Yeah, sweetie, I forgot it.” The lie stuck to my teeth like bitter toffee. Wee Lass noticed no difference in my voice, no change of inflection. I put the car in reverse. Hopefully she would not mention it again before our arrival at daycare.

“Daddy, you forgot your music thing.”
“What? My music thing?”
“Your music thing, for the ray-dio.” The way she says it sounds like a word for beams of light. Damn, she is right. I do not have the “music thing”; the faceplate for my car stereo is in my briefcase, which is sitting on the floor in the dining room. Without it, no music.

“Yeah, well, its in the house. I’m not going back to get it.”
“Please, Daddy? Please?”
“I’m sorry, sweet pea, we don’t have time.”

I pull the car out onto the street running past our court. Gaggles of schoolkids huddle at the corners waiting for the bus. The usual suspects are out today, the morning shift of dog walkers and early joggers. Wee Lass and I make it a game to count the dogs we see every morning. Bonus points to the eagle eye that spots a dog wearing a hat or sweater. Fluffy Tail and Mistress Jogger are heading up the sidewalk on their vigorous morning walk-run. I don’t know how they do it. Wee Lass pipes up from the back seat.

“Daddy, I wanna hear some music.”
“I’m really sorry, honey, I just forgot the radio.”
“Hmmpphh.” She pouts, an unbearably cute scrunchie face she makes when she half-serious in her irritation.

“But, Dah-deee, I wanna hear Brass Monkey.” I grin. I should have known that was coming.
“Daddy’s really sorry, maybe next time.”
“Hmmpphh. It’s no fun without music!” Say what? Did my daughter just say that? I laugh.

“I know it isn’t, dearie, but we’ll have some later.” Silence. I glance in the rear view mirror. Wee Lass has her bottom lip pooched out as she stares out the window. Little wisps of ash blonde hair frame her impossibly beautiful face. My heart contracts as I feel like the Queen’s Guard who just failed in his mission. I return my attention to the road.

“I know, Daddy, I’ll sing us some music!” Wee Lass calls out. The car fills with the strains of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, sung in that quavery little girl voice that might as well be the stylings of an angel. Wee Lass gets through a round of that, a big smile on her face.

“That was beautiful, sweetie” I tell her but she isn’t quite listening. She has already launched into her version of “Baa, Baa Black Sheep, Have You Any Wool?” For the first time ever, Wee Lass does not shush me as I join in on the chorus. We look at each other across a few feet of mirror, her blue eyes shining in the early morning light. We have made the turn onto the road leading past the day care center. We grin like possums. I am looking for the turn into the access road and Wee Lass bursts into “Ants Go Marching One By One”. At this point I am on the verge of tears. Wee Lass has no idea of the effect on me. I pull into the parking space.

As she exits the car, she says cheerfully “Go get your briefcase, Daddy, so you can take it to work.” Thud. My lip is swelling I am biting it so hard. “Okay, baby, I’ll get it.”

And Daddy will struggle to get you settled in, get your things put in your cubby, lunch in the fridge, and that big bear hug before you shut the door to you classroom. Daddy will make it to the car before the first tears trickle down his cheeks, trying to back the car out of the space before anyone sees him. Daddy won’t tell you how he ran from the car and into the house gulping air and trying not to break down. Daddy won’t tell you how he sat on the sofa, sobbing into his hands, bathed in the weak sunlight filtering through the window overlooking the deck. Daddy won’t tell you any of this because he hasn’t figured out how to explain the forgotten briefcase, the missing radio. You are too young for this sort of despair.

All Daddy wants right now is for his beautiful little girl to keep singing, in the voice of that amazing angel fallen to earth just for him.


  1. Oh, man. My heart is breaking. I know it makes no difference, but in her eyes, your situation doesn't mean a thing. She has no understanding and quite frankly, doesn't care (not in a mean way, it's just not on her radar).

    As smart as you seem to be, I can't fathom nothing coming your way. Even in these tough times.

    Argghhhhhhhh....money sucks. Needing to have money sucks. Needing to have a job to have money sucks.


  2. Ouch.

    So...you don't want her to worry, I'm guessing. And it's hard to talk about. But...kids aren't dumb. She noticed you "forgot" the briefcase. Is it just...too much to share with your kids?

    I guess...I'm not sure what I'd do. I'm a contracted employee, so I'm out of work every few months, and the kids are used to the ups and downs of "mom's home - next week no". And they (well, the 5-year-old at least) gets that money is sort-of complicated due to never being sure if I'll be writing for another company or not.

  3. Ladies: Thank you both. I have never had to deal with this before, so its all unknown territory. Wee Lass is pretty smart, and she understands that M & D have to buy stuff. And you right she just has no far-reaching grasp of the implications. I don't want her to worry, but then again I have no idea how to explain all this!

    MD, you too kind to say I'm smart (grin); I at least make a good impression sometimes; that Irish predilection for blarney comes in handy!

    Thanks for the hugs. I needs all I can gets!

  4. Honey, kids are the ones that bring light to our eyes and touch our hearts in only ways that angels can. She is one beautiful little girl and not matter what is going on, she will love you and continue to sing those sweet songs to you because after all, there is nobody better than daddy.


  5. Bail ó Dhia ort.

    your southie feels the weight of your heart.

  6. Three-year-old daughter, pausing her Dora the Explorer game on my wife's computer: Papa, are you OK?
    ME: Yeah, I'm fine [sniff]
    HER: Oooh, it's OK. Don't cry Papa. [Kisses my hand]

  7. Look at you, getting me all choked up like this on my second visit. Stop it. Don't you know Irish girls don't like to cry in front of boys? ;)

    We've been down that road.. We did our best to just remain as open and honest with our littles as we could. Explaining things in terms they could understand, and assuring them that God would be there to look out for us and take care for us. And He always has.

    God bless you and your job search.. and your wee lass, of course.

  8. I will pray for you and your family! It will get better!

  9. Dude-

    What a beautiful post. It made me choke-up. Listen man, things will work out. You have a good heart. I can tell from reading just a couple of posts. It may be tough at times, but you will get through it. That little darling girl will be your strength. The kids always are. That's how we get through the hard days. We do it for them. We have to.

    Keep writing your heart out.



  10. It is with awe that I salute a great father.

  11. you are a wonderful, wonderful dad. no shit.

  12. So...

    I just have to say, simple short to the point explanations rule the world in this case. Kids know when you're being evasive and it will backfire and turn into a game of "Why Daddy?"

    I am going to bet with the number of blogs I see where people are going thru this, kids will be at pre-school kickin it on the swing sets going: Yeah my Dad/Mom or both are at home more now, because of the Deep Recession (but they will say recession all funny and broken up because they have no idea what it is, let alone how to say it, and don't really care, they just know they get to be around you more).

    Hang in there. Throw your name in hats you never dreamed of before and see what happens.

    If this keeps up we will all be standing in the 7-11 with panties on our heads stealing Huggies :)

  13. That's a tough one, IG. When I got axed back in September they gave me a pretty sweet parachute so that made things a lot easier. I didn't hide anything from the boys, but they didn't much care. All they knew was that they didn't have to spend all day with grampa now so whatever this gobble-dee-gook daddy was going on about didn't really matter.

    You are the only thing that matters to her, brother, not your job.

    And she knows Brass Monkey. Your coolness factor has skyrocketed.

  14. You have soul. That's why mum and me are following your blog.

  15. It was after the 4th, maybe the 5th day when the Goat asked me "what are you doing here?"

    It's a tough one for some reason. Don't know why, but it is. I felt like I had failed them in some way....you know, fucked up their normalcy.

    She's cool with it now though. I bake alot.

    Good post!


  16. IG, my heart is swelling not with the despair of the situation (although it aches for you there) but with the beauty for the love of your daughter. You are her hero. What you're going through is an obstacle to be fought, not a failure that you yourself are responsible for. Just reading this proves to me how much fight you have in you to remain in that rockstar status she clearly has you in.
    Beautifully written. I'm choked up!

  17. Cute. Very cute. Watch out. Those little girls tend to grow up. My three did - I'll never forgive them for that.

  18. on my first visit you have me bawling my eyes out. I am sorry for the rough ride you are facing, but to be able to express yourself so clearly is truly a gift, and I have no doubt you will not be down for long. Hang in there!!

  19. Ugh, Irish, been there as well. You are a great Dad (the monkey can tell). The best advice I got was when you are wondering what the Lass is thinking or what her perception of something is, just ask her. Such as, "Daddy, where do babies come from?" "Well Lass, where do YOU think?" "I think storks drop them off" and you can go from there and elaborate, or not. Everyone's right though, the kids don't care, just be sraightforward on her level. 'Daddy doesn't need his briefcase for a little while so we can learn some new songs, what do you think?'

    And hang in there, it sounds like this may be a good thing for you in the long run, it's just hard to see the forest for the trees right now.Sending you good vibes...

  20. Wow, tears on the first visit. Being a parent is the scariest thing I've ever done. This is a beautiful story.

  21. The importance of being earnest. I guess in this case it is of being an earnest father.

    May your tears call up the call that will usher in another era of briefcase bearing.

  22. Ack. My first visit. What lovely writing. I just added you to my reader.
    Good luck with your job situation. Our family is going through the same.

  23. Sweet man,

    I had to have an older version of the dread conversation with my Chicklet this weekend.

    You're in mourning, me darlin'. And yes, it's hard. But things will get better and your Wee Lass will love you no matter what (I know, I'm a Daddy'Girl)

    Our children are the salve for our souls. Keep a routine, get projects done in the house and rely on your lovely bride for support. Together, you'll figure out how best to explain the changes.



"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...