Wednesday, April 23, 2014


As I pull the tape dispenser across another brown moving box, it makes a noise akin to cheap fireworks. The repetitive motion triggers the memory of a discussion with my daughter this morning. I say discussion, but it was more of a lecture regarding the fact my packing tape has a duck on it. She asked why my duck tape was clear. Extremely pedantic, and worst of all boring, from her point of view that I want her to understand “Duck” is a brand of tape. A brand which, in a great stroke of marketing genius, sells tape including but not limited to “duct tape” which this packing tape is not.  The echo of the memory reminds me I haven’t heard much from J Bean in the next room in the last minute or two, a sure sign of mischief. 

Rojo Unicornio - J Bean 2014
Heading toward the kitchen, I edge past stacks of boxes strewn with, what appears to be, tribal warfare or perhaps a scene from Game of Thrones recreated with dolls and the ponies. In the kitchen, my firstborn is crouched on a stool intently gazing at a small piece of paper and her own hands. To me it is a mess on the counter.  I feel irritation heating up in my chest as my mouth prepares to fire a reprimand across the bow. A warning shot, if you will.  It seems our interactions this week have been especially antagonistic, so my first stance is that of a disciplinarian. Just look at this! Crayons are littering the recently cleared surface and the floor around her, markers without caps are splayed across the area, glitter glue accents… well, everything. All of this is peripheral damage from J Bean's most recent abstract art project -- a unicorn with "a lot of red, but not too much red" in crayon, glitter and ink on wide-ruled notepad. She calls it “Rojo Unicornio” and it’s for a friend at school. A friend she’ll miss when we move to Florida. Now I remember her mentioning it when she asked if she could “make some art” at the center island.

I remember moving at this age. Leaving friends, making new ones, saying goodbye to the comfortable and the familiar. Nervousness and excitement of it all working together to create enormous stress on a child. She keeps asking me about “owning” a house, and if we can stay in our next one forever (we can’t). I think she senses moves will become harder to cope with as she moves from preschooler to a young girl. One more move and maybe we’ll have our forever home, something I wasn’t even sure I wanted before parenthood. I feel my nomadic childhood made me who I am today, but I try to remember that I’m not remaking me. It is she who is doing that.

I bite my tongue as she looks up at me, swallowing hard the scolding which was fighting to escape my mouth just a moment ago. Her blue eyes, dark like a sea beneath heavy clouds, peer at me from around her red-rimmed glasses. Each eye in frame like a Monet. Glitter tips her nose and the lenses of her glasses. I stop thinking about the clean-up and the regular chores and the moving that needs to be finished.  With the look she flashes a sparkling smile (literally sparkling) that could melt the sky as she shows me two outstretched gold-glitter covered hands and says proudly, "Look, Daddy, my hands are soooo sparkly and pretty!"


I compliment her work and help her de-sparkle her hands a few minutes later before wiping down the counter and getting her to help me cap the wayward markers and stow them with the crayons in her art bag. It's always a different story when we see it through their eyes. Why is that so hard? 

      At Cap d'Antibes, Mistral Wind - Claude Monet, 1888

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