Monday, February 16, 2009

erin has a whimsical dad

Erin spread the black current jam on the toast evenly from side to side and all the way to the edges. She hated to get a bite of toast without jam on, but she was far too economical to ditch the crusts. She’d heard on the radio once that women in Haiti ate cookies made of mud and grass. Just the thought made her queasy. She couldn’t save the world on her own, especially because her allowance was only enough to buy new stationary—on recycled paper of course—to write to her newest friend Janet, but at least she could be economical. 

“DAAAAAAAAAAAADDY!” she hollered up the stair case to her dad, as the kettle started to whistle. She’d gotten really really good at making breakfast for her and her dad since her mom had left them a few months back. Erin had to be the strong one, she decided, because he dad was so busy with his research at the University in the city. She got really good at breakfast, except for pouring the boiling water—the steam was too hot—so she still needed her dad for something. She liked to think that her needing her dad a little bit for breakfast made him feel special. She always felt special when he asked her to help with his work, or with the laundry. They were a team.

Dr. Patel, Erin’s dad, rushed down the stairs to pour the water for the tea. His tie was loose around his neck and he’d only found one shoe so far. Erin had handled the divorce so well, it astounded him. He’d handled it pretty well too, he thought. Work helped. Erin helped. 

“Toast again, sweety?” he asked gently, patting Erin on the head as he poured two cups of extra-hot tea. “You’re off to your friend’s tonight, is that right?”

“Yes. And you are going to pick me up at the Smith’s tomorrow at lunch time. Right?” She was always having to remind him about the little things, but she thought it was sort of charming. She hoped that the Smith’s wouldn’t mind her dad’s absent minded way because he was such a good scientist. 

Turns out, the Smith’s didn’t mind at all. They didn’t mind having to wait while Erin called her dad at the University to ask him to fax a note to her school saying that she was allowed to go home with the Smith’s instead of going home with her after-school nanny because he’d forgotten to sign the note in her bag. They didn’t mind him calling twice late at night, once to ask Erin where the remote control to the telle was and the second time to wish her goodnight… at 11:30pm. They didn’t even mind that he’d locked his keys in his car and wouldn’t be able to pick her up before the Smith’s lunch engagements—they just dropped her off on their way.

Janet told Erin that she thought her dad was whimsical. Erin thought whimsical was a great word. She also thought that whimsical wasn’t the best thing for a single dad of a 6 year old girl to be. 


“Yes, sweety? What’s wrong?” Dr. Patel turned The Iron Chef off and turned to his little daughter.

“I was thinking about what makes a family.” She waited to see how he’d react. She knew she’d need to stop if he looked too upset. “You know, not that we’re not a great family, because daddy we’re really great.” 

He took her hand and waited for her to go on. He was so proud that his little girl was so mature, despite the terribly immature way he and his ex-wife had acted around her since she was born.

“Well, the Smith’s are a family too. They’re a really great family too. I am not saying that one family is better than the other, okay?”

“Of course.”

“Just… Daddy, I think because there are only two people in our family, and there are four in theirs, and all those animals, well, I think they don’t have to work as hard to be a great family.”

“But we do have to work hard, don’t we?”


“I’m sorry sweety. I think you work really hard to make us a great family. Maybe I could work harder too.”

“No Daddy, you’re a really hard worker. I don’t think you can work any harder.”

“So… what do you think we can do? Think we could use a holiday?” he smiled, he would love to go on holiday!

Erin smiled back at her dad, he was so whimsical some times. “No, daddy! You’re so funny!” Erin giggled.

“So what do you think would make us a better family?”

Erin paused for dramatic effect, she just new her dad was going to love this idea… “A DOG!”

1 comment:

Kilgannon said...

Dog's should make every family better. Dog's should also dress in a cardigan, wear glasses and smoke a pipe and be all "no my dear, you cannot have a cookie." That'd be a real family dog