The line is a bit long at CVS pharmacy. It appears probably longer than it is with us all being 6 feet apart, but none the less the youngest I have a few minutes to wait. Thru the masks we whisper a few silly things to each other. I love these little pointless trips. The quick visit to a store to pick up a prescription turns into an argument about which peanut is the best before we settle on the cashew. While we both agree it is way too expensive it really is the best tasting of all the peanuts. I can’t just go to a store for whatever we need. I have to browse the candy, maybe see if I pass a Mountain Dew, or remember that my Meg loves Raisinets I have to buy something. I think that comes from Uncle John. I’ve written about him before. He’s just my guy, can’t explain it really, he just always was and is my favorite person whenever I get to share a room with him. It’s never just a “nice to see you” with him, he always has that something extra, a “did you get the Bruins jersey I mailed you” or some other small gesture to me or now my family. My Dad’s the exact same. Today, for example, my youngest spent the day with her 5-year-old cousin because neither had school, and when I picked her up and we got in the car she says, “check out what Bupa gave me” and shows me a $20 bill. For no reason, other than it’s just in his DNA to be a good person. If someone someday ever compares me to either of those men I’ll have lived a great life.
Anyway, back to that damn long line at CVS with my travel buddy Ki, my favorite 13-year-old on this planet. We both space out for a second, until something catches my eye about the guy who is at the counter with the CVS employee. It’s something slight, but I see it and I turn to my daughter and before I can even say anything she whispers “I was waiting for you to see it” and I reply “you see that long gross big toenail?” and she says “Of COURSE I DO”. And it’s in those small moments that I’m reminded this Dad job is the best job in the world. It’s in those small moments where you think “I’m weird for even noticing, but” and her face says “I’m already their Dad, thanks for catching up” that you know you are doing something right. I’ll screw my kids up in a million ways, ways they won’t know until they are angry cleaning their house because their kids are bugging them and they remember their Dad almost smashing thru the walls with the vacuum because he wanted to make sure everyone knew he was cleaning while no one else was. Ways in which I won’t know because I’m literally learning on the fly, like most of us. We just hope that somehow, someway they make it out in the world and don’t become serial killers. But, in this instance, this small little interaction between a 40-year-old, completely immature Dad and his smart, funny, incredibly loyal daughter that he knows he’s doing a good job.
It’s just a trip to CVS. It’s a 2 second interaction. It means nothing and EVERYTHING at the same time. My stories, lots of them, revolve around my oldest. She’s going thru everything for the first time, so am I. I’ve never parented a 16-year-old. But I have parented a 13-year-old already. So, lots of my mistakes are with my first born. Mistakes for me, make the best stories. I love writing about my mistakes. Something I learned from my Dad long ago. If you can joke about yourself, if you can show others when your shit stinks, they will know you speak the truth, they will trust your words. A man without fault is a liar. My Dad’s words hold true, they hold weight because he’s not bullshitting you. I hope my kids see that in me somehow.
So, I sort of know the next moves on the chess board for my 13-year-old. But, then, in the smallest of moments, she knocks me off my feet. A trip to the supermarket involves a discussion about our favorite song, or style of sneaker, but always, and I mean always, ends with us whispering on the way out about some small thing we both noticed but couldn’t say in the moment. “Did you smell the BO on that lady” or “we got the damn slowest cashier in the world” …
Our trips are never the same. I love that she still is the “yes” to any small trip I have to take. The 16-year-old is too cool, too busy, but the 13-year-old is still up for any of the dumbest trips I can think of. She’s always paying attention. She can hear a conversation from a mile away, and if it’s juicy enough she can ignore all other distractions and noises and completely focus for whatever gossip she can pick up on. She has a gift, but it’s a gift she shares with me. She knows I’m paying attention too; she knows who to go to with the smallest of moments and knows I caught it to. I freaking love that about us.
As I sit there and think about different ways to end this story, different words to describe being this kids Dad, I just don’t have them. I don’t have new ways to tell you just how lucky I feel I am. I just appreciate the hell out of these small moments, that I can sit here and type a story with happy tears streaming down my face. An overwhelming feeling of joy as I sit here. I’ll never understand it, I’ll never feel worthy of these moments, but maybe, just maybe, that’s what makes those moments great. Love isn’t big at all, it’s a million little things…