I worked last night and got home about 7:30 am. I was exhausted. It was about 55 degrees outside (which is pretty cold for a South Texas winter) and my room was cold and dark and the sheets in my bed were especially cold, just the way I like them. I crawled into bed and sank into a deep sleep. I woke up to the regular sounds of my three teenaged children milling about the house and to the sounds of two dogs barking at each other. This is pretty much my regular alarm clock on a weekend day and although its a Wednesday and my two youngest are in high school, they’re all on Thanksgiving break and everyone was home. My regular ritual is to watch an episode or two of The Office with my son, heat up some leftovers from whatever was leftover from dinner the night before and after to figure out what I want to do with the few free hours I have before I go back to work. Fortunately, today….I’m off so I have about 30 hours before I have to be at work again.
Sarah is my middle daughter. I’ve written about her before. She’s my artist. She’s the typical middle child and keeps us on our toes. She’s the world traveler and the one child that I have that has an extremely difficult time taking “No” for an answer. When she gets something in her mind. She does whatever possible to make that thing come to fruition. As I was figuring out what to wear for the afternoon, (which is typically a pair of khakis covered in paint, polyurethane, and wood glue) Sarah comes to my room and says, “Dad, is it okay if I take Nova to the beach? Mom said to ask you.” Nova is Sarah’s Weimeraner puppy. I say puppy but she’s going to be a big dog so she doesn’t seem much like a pup. Sarah’s always loved dogs….even when we didn’t have room for one, she always tried her hardest to convince us that a dog was a good idea.
There’s a few things I have learned over the years with Sarah. If she says, “mom said to ask you” what that means is that her mother said “no” and Sarah wouldn’t let up and my wife finally said, “WHATEVER!! I SAID NO! ASK YOUR FATHER!” That basically means that I should be reading my wife’s mind and should automatically say “no.” The mistake I have made in the past is that I have given in to my daughter’s desires. I have a tendency to see no harm in what she wants to do and then later realize that although my wife did say “ask your father”, I should have known to say “no” and I reaped the whirlwind when she finds out that Sarah did exactly what she was told not to do by her mother. I’ve become the expert after several negative experiences and I told Sarah, “Let me call your mother.” I automatically knew that she had been told “no” by the look on Sarah’s face as if I had just taken the wind out of her sails. I called my wife and sure enough…. she had said “no” and strictly for safety reasons. She didn’t want Sarah taking the dog to the beach by herself in the event that there was one of the thousands of un-caught serial killers at the beach, searching for seashells or surfing or fishing (things serial killers typically have as their hobbies).
When I saw how discouraged Sarah looked, I decided to go ahead and forego my daily rituals or plans for the day (which had not yet been made) and I told her, “Let’s go Lu. I’ll go with you.”
When my children were little and I was a returning college student I had very little money. I had lost my job and me and my family were living in an efficiency apartment. We weren’t shopping for fun, going to the movies, traveling, etc. We didn’t have the funds to do these things. We would take the kids to the beach. I would take them on nature walks. At one point, we would go around and collect aluminum cans and at the end of the week, we would turn them in and I would take the kids to dollar movie and to Wendy’s for burgers and frostees. When I would take the kids on walks, Sarah always wanted to take a ziploc baggie. She wanted to collect leaves and sticks, and any other interesting items that she could find. On occasion, she would find a lady bug and this was definitely the highlight of the week.
When we got to the beach all of those memories of Sarah picking up every little cool item she could find came rushing back. She ran and played with her dog and as we walked down the beach, she started picking up starfish that were still alive and throwing them back into the water. She said she would like to find a dead starfish with all the arms intact. Then she said that she knows that the stores that sell the whole starfish get them when they are alive and so she feels terrible because she knows that they kill them. She’s a good hearted kid to think this way. We continued on our walk and I took several pictures and we collected shells for her to make hair clips and I picked up crab shells to make an art piece later while Nova picked up every disgusting thing she could find with her mouth. I guess dogs just tend to do that and we tend to forget because as we drove home, we let her give us dog kisses and didn’t think twice about it.
I pulled up to the house and told Sarah, “I’m glad I went Sarah.” She said, “it was a perfect day to go to the beach.” I agreed and said, “it was a perfect day.” She got out and took Nova out of the truck and headed toward the back yard. What I meant to say was “It was a perfect day because I got to spend time with my daughter. I’ll never forget days like today. I love you Angel.”