Friday, February 21, 2014

A rock

"Dad," my youngest daughter began as she walked in from the garage. "I'm going to put these out by the front tree to keep the other rocks company." She carried with her a small bucket with an odd assortment of pebbles and shells. Far be it from me to keep the neighborhood rocks isolated and lonesome. Besides, I'd never really noticed the pail before, even on garage cleaning expeditions.
Previously, that particular pail has served as a candy bucket for Halloween. It was also pressed into service to make sand castles. This time it hauled rocks.
As she passed my chair, I noticed a dark shadow in the middle of the stone collection. "Hold up there, champ." I said in my father-knows-best voice. "Let's see what you got there."
Slightly smaller than my fist, this smoothly worn rock seemed to weigh more than his compatriots. I was pretty sure I wasn't holding a geode. I'd collected geodes as a kid, and this was the wrong type of rock for that. About the only thing I knew for certain was it didn't belong out there with the other rocks.
"Sweetie," I asked in my softest voice. "Can I hang on to this one?" 
Picking the rock up from my open hand, she held it up for inspection. My child considered my request only for a moment. "Sure, Daddy."
She handed me the ebon rock before turning to skip out the door.
This curious little rock might become a paperweight on my desk or headboard. The rock itself isn't as important as finding new connections with my kid. A friend sent me a video yesterday. In this short flick, you can easily identify my daughters from two years ago.
God, they look so different and yet the same. They've filled out from awkward teens to young women. The moment when a father has to defend his daughter from the vile clutches of strangers came while we were ordering some Bush's chicken.
Middle child came in to the restaurant in a stunning dress, full makeup, hair done perfectly along with high heels. I spotted no less than 7 male heads turn our way. As soon as we had our dinner, I ushered everyone out. By carefully positioning myself, I was able to deflect most of the lecherous stares. The saying goes never get between a mother and her young. I'd add to that: Don't try to get to the daughter when the father is in the way.
That incident at the restaurant was over a year ago. Sadly, my daughters are young women ready to go forth and leave the nest. I'm happy and at the same time don't want it to happen. So while my youngest is still in her teens, I'll take any connection or memento I can hold on to.

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