There is a plastic kitchen in my living room. It has a microwave, an oven, a sink, a stove, a grill and shelves to hold the plastic plates, cups, forks, knives and pots and pans.
There are red and brown and orange and green and some very strange black stains on the carpets in my den, bedroom and study. There are half-eaten lollipops stuck to the back of my favorite chair.
I have four kids.
Crayon-art graces my den walls. It comes in yellow and orange and blue: “Look Daddy! I make pi-turs.”
The two-year-old created those “pi-turs” months ago, to the dismay of her mother and I. But now that she’s getting older, growing up and making less “pi-turs” in the den, they have become the most beautiful drawings in existence. A part of her – something that she’ll forget she ever had – is in those drawings.
My wife has asked that we paint over them with an “Araucana Color-product # 224-TZ9” from the new Home Depot catalog. I think I prefer the Crayola blue.
Sticky, 4-inch handprints glisten three-feet from the floor on almost every wall in the house. But soon those prints will grow, and the hand that makes them will become strong and experienced. My baby’s hands will do amazing things…
Maybe they’ll write the next great American novel. Perhaps they’ll paint masterpieces to be hung in The Louvre. They might make sculptures, build houses, throw balls, or play pianos or guitars or first chair in a symphony orchestra. They may very well simply hold my grandchildren with love and care.
I shudder to think of the pain they’ll endure: broken bones, scratches, bruises and paper cuts. If only I could hide them from slammed doors, errant sewing needles and carpel-tunnel syndrome.
My kids are at a place in their lives when “holding daddy’s hand” is a joy and a comfort – a privilege they alone can brag about at Mother’s Day Out or in the plastic ball pit at McDonald’s.
My baby girl’s tiny grip is just barely big enough to fit around my index finger or thumb.
One day she’ll hold someone else’s hand and perhaps even wear his ring. Her now tiny, brittle fingernails will be polished and long and French-manicured – as beautiful as her mother’s. But they’ll be my baby’s all the same. No matter what.
“Honey, let’s not paint the walls just yet. I’m not ready for her to go.”