Hand to Hand

I guess raising kids means getting your hands dirty

Mike Paulus

The other night, I was at home in the middle of something super important, like figuring out which Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book I should buy next, when I heard my 3-year-old daughter calling from her bedroom. She had been asleep for a few hours, and her voice had a heart-meltingly groggy tone to it – a tiny, tired gruffness that most parents would find exceptionally adorable and most non-parents would find exceptionally phlegmy.

She said, “Daddy. Daddy! Come here, please. Puf thhss way!”

I walked into her nightlight-lit bedroom, expecting to find her half asleep and mumbling, assuming I’d just tuck her back in and sing our Sleepy Kitty song that most parents would find exceptionally adorable and most non-parents would find exceptionally lame.

Instead, she was sitting bolt upright. I said, “What’s wrong, baby?”

“Put these away, Daddy,” she said, sounding worried.

Then I noticed that each set of her tiny fingers were tightly pinched together, holding something small. Whatever it was, she was holding both hands up, patiently waiting for me.

“Put these away,” she said with a growing urgency.

“It’s OK, baby,” I reassured her, holding out my cupped hand to accept whatever ridiculously tiny chunk of toy-shaped plastic she’d been obsessed with on that particular day. She reached out one small hand and placed something into mine. It was smaller than I had expected, and it weighed nothing.

“Put these away, Daddy.”

“OK,” I soothed, slightly confused as she placed the second one in my hand. “I’ll put them away. What are these, sweetie?”

Then, finally relaxing, she said, “My boogers.”

And then I had a choice to make. I could do the logical thing – the thing my very soul was screaming for me to do – and start shaking my hands furiously as if a flesh-feasting disease-infested alien cockroach had just sprung onto my vulnerable skin and then proceed to prance around the her room like a dandy little show dog. While screaming. However, I figured this choice carried a slight chance of scaring the living crap out of my impressionable young offspring.

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