Two years ago I introduced you to my then 3-year-old daughter, Scarlett. My Valentine.
She was a late arrival in my life and particularly special because I grew up with all boys and had only boys, until she came along. She’s introduced me, for the first time, to the wonderful world of little girls.
Scarlett’s now 5 and I’m 65. She likes the symmetry of that. She tells perfect strangers, at random, “I’m five and he’s 65.”
I’ve taken to telling her that she’s my favorite 5-year-old daughter. She caught on recently and said, “You’re my favorite 65-year-old father.” The tables have turned.
As with all five-year-olds, her humor is maturing. She tells me jokes: “What do you call a fly with no wings? A walk.” She was tutored by Alexa, no doubt.
She’s accidentally funny, too. She asked, “Dada, you go to the university and they just give you money for talking all the time?” Yes. Fairly accurate, actually.
She also asks those Einsteinian questions: “Dada, what would happen if there was no friction in the whole world?” We’d have a happier planet?
Here’s another tough one about grammar: “If mouses are mice how come rats aren’t rice?” “I don’t know,” I tell her. “Go ask your mother.”
That’s my default response for her toughest questions. When she got in the back of our closet and asked, “How do you have Santa’s wrapping paper in your closet?” I said, again, “Ask your mother.”
Sometimes she surprises me with her spontaneous observations. She says, “Did you know that if I put gobs of your shaving cream into slime it makes it slimier?” No, but that’s handy information.
She surprised me also when she asked if I got a splinter when I fell down the steps and broke my leg. I said “no.” She said, “That’s good because those splinters really hurt.”
Like all children her age, she has beautiful daydreams: “Dada, why don’t you get a bicycle with two seats? You can pedal up front and I’ll sit in the back and rest and listen to the birds.”
In her room she has an imaginary restaurant that often has imaginary shortages. I’ll order ice cream and she’ll say, “Oh, sorry, the ice cream machine is broken right now.” Just like real world restaurants.
She’s not so good at keeping secrets. Her mother returned home from Christmas shopping and Scarlett said, immediately, “I helped dada wrap your present. It’s a purple sweater from Dillard’s.”
It reminded me of when she said: “I’m going to give you a surprise birthday party, but don’t tell mama.” I think she forgot who she was not supposed to tell.
It’s been a great year watching her grow up. I told her when she turns 6 we could have her birthday party at Chucky Cheese and she said no. “Chucky Cheese is for little kids. Peter Piper is for big kids.” She already has a keen understanding of demographics.
She’s sadly had to grow in other ways, too. I told her to put her bike away because someone might steal it. “What is steal?” she asked. I hated to bring that concept into her idyllic world.
Mail came for her for the first time. She had never received mail, ever. I asked people to send her letters. She got 15 in one day and this is how she responded. She grabbed all the letters, and with a delightful scream, she ran from the mailbox to the front door saying, “I CAN’T BELIEVE ITTTTTT!!!!” I think she was happy.
Scarlett has been in a romantic mood these last months. She wants her mama and me to get married again so she can be a flower girl in a violet dress. She’s been drawing pictures of how she sees the ceremony with her front and center, directing things. I like that she even gives us advice for a good marriage. She says, “Mama, dada is your husband, and dada, mama is your life.” My life – liked that advice a lot. You’re right Scarlett, mama is my life. And so are you, darlin.’ Happy Valentine’s Day.