She Deserves Ice Cream and I Deserve Kick in The Shins

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My daughter is 3.  That means that if she spends just six seconds alone with her mother, her Gigi, or her grandma, those moments erase all versions of affection she's ever held for me.

There's a 3-year-old boy out there somewhere who's going to get his heart wrung out some time in in adolescence by this girl one day. She has the you're-a-boy-and-I'm-going-to-eat-you-alive torture thing mastered.

I can read her books, play a game of tag in the living room, crawl around on all fours while she rides me like a horse, play t-ball in the backyard, tickle her, feed her snacks (oh God!  A sure fire path to her little happy heart) and then an afternoon without me goes by and she's all, "Who needs you, mister?"

No joke.  I came through the front door one day after work recently - sat in traffic for some 45 minutes inching, inching, inching, toward home - and Chloe ran up to me, kicked me in the shin, and yelled, "Get out of here, Papa!" That's a 3-year-old for you.

Now that I told you that, you just won't believe what happened last week. She totally ratcheted it up. I left my family for six days to go to Moab, Utah.  I spent those days driving the back roads of Beef Basin, looking for good views and Anasazi ruins. The quick gallery:

I came home late Sunday night, long after Chloe went to bed.  In the morning, I entered the kitchen for a cup of coffee.  I heard her awake already, so I donned my shin guards and prepared myself for rejection when she saw me . . .

She came down the hallway dragging her purple blankey and demanding milk. And then she saw me. She didn't even stop. Not even. Instead, she ran - RAN! - and bellowed, "Papa!  I missed you!"

Naturally, I took her to lunch later that day and gave her ice cream.  Twice.

What I'm really hoping for is that one day she'll pick up a guitar and play a little Jim Croce: "Every time I tried to tell you, the words just came out wrong. So I'll have to say I love you in a song."

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