Saturday, November 20, 2010

Work the Problems

Dad duty is varied fare. Little emergencies crop up. Well, little things to grown ups. But for little ones, the tears flow from these problems. As a dad, you need to solve the problems.

I took Lamb to school Friday morning, and unfortunately she dressed in pants too big in the waist. Her mom suggested tucking the sweater in as we headed out. Lamb was upset and said the last time she went to school with those pants, they kept falling down. So once at school, we tried the tucking solution. There just wasn't enough sweater for that to work.

The only way for this to work out was to get a belt for her. So I told Lamb I'd get her a belt. I was reasonably sure I had one in her dresser, so went home, found one that looked suitable, and returned to her school in time for change of class, after stopping in the office to tell them I needed to make an emergency belt delivery. The secretary said she'd noticed her sad look over that issue, and waved me on. I got the belt on Lamb, made sure she was pleased as punch to not have to hold her pants up with one hand, and took her to her next class to catch up. Problem solved. She even liked the pink belt I got for her, so it was more than functional.

And when I picked her and her brother up from school later that day, I thought I'd solved another problem only to be confronted by a new one that flowed from my solution. Lamb has wanted out of her booster seat for months. I told her I had to make sure that the seat belt was okay without the booster seat. But she has wanted it gone. Nobody else in her class used one. And I was the last holdout making her use the booster seat. It had to go, she said. I'd told her that if she was big enough, she could toss the seat in the dumpster to get it far away and show some finality. But only after I checked it out to make sure she is safe just in the car.

So I checked Lamb out without the booster when she got in the car. She fit just fine, and I removed the booster, tossing it in the front seat. When we got home, she happily pushed the seat into the dumpster, ending that phase of childhood. It was the first time in close to fourteen years that I didn't have some type of child seat in the back of my car.

And as the booster seat fell into the dumpster, the regrets set in with Lamb. The tears flowed about "Car Seat." I told Lamb that I was happy "Car Seat" (now a named thing to be missed without "the" before it) had taken good care of her all these years and kept her safe. But now she was big enough and Car Seat's job was done. Once inside, she got distracted with playing and dinner. And the tears stopped. But as I took the kids to their mom's later that night, the tears flowed again for Car Seat.

On the way to my car--you know what happens next--I went straight to the dumpster and without saying anything, pulled Car Seat out. I told Lamb I'd put Car Seat in the trunk of the car and keep it there as long as she wanted it there. She wanted me to pull the cup holder so she'd have that to remember Car Seat. I said I'd pull it and wash it, and give it to her so she'd have it to remember Car Seat.

Children so often only need little things to make their world right again. But you have to do them. Even when they seem little. Even when you will carry a car seat pulled from a dumpster around in your trunk for months to come.

But once again, all was right in one little world.