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The Third Parent

Sometimes I think the thing that distinguishes the two of us from each other is that she’s not the one driving the van.

Or the one worrying about what’s for dinner, or how to get black marker out of the stairway carpet or if we’ll miss what was just flushed down the toilet.

No…she’s too busy showing him how to dive into a pile of blankets in just his underwear.  And how to twist his pajama top around his head, so the dinosaur is in the front.  And how to balance his pasta on his tongue.  All crucial elements of being three.

And he…he eats it up.  He thrives on her attention…Which is why exceedingly more often, he’s been known to poke her, or  jump on her, or grab her from behind, or put his leg on her in the car.  He just wants to connect.  Or annoy her.  One of those.

And which is why leaving her behind to go to preschool ain’t been easy.

Here in the parking lot he’d showed her how sweet his back pack is.  When she finally noticed his hip in the air, she’d smiled and built him up,  “Cool, bud.” 

Inside he’d fingered the beaded heart on her tye-dyed shirt and had slowly asked, “can you stay, sissy?” And she would’ve.  But without direction from me, she’d reassured him that he would have a great time at preschool.  “You’ll have fun, buddy,” she’d started.  Only his face fell, and he hadn’t looked so sure. ” And we’ll see you when your school is over.  We’ll be right there.”  Her voice had been light and full of promise.  I totally believed her.

At a friend’s house she’d convinced him to ditch his clothes for a dress.  By which time he’d ventured downstairs and twirled himself sweaty for half an hour.  And maybe had too good of a time.


Then at bedtime as I’d grabbed his toothbrush with one hand and unclamped his jaw with the other, she’d clarifed from her bedroom that she’d already seen him brush his teeth.  And then she’d added, “he just didn’t brush them properly.

Which is why I love her.

This household would struggle to operate were it not for her unsung subtleties. 

 But as it is, his coolness has been confirmed; the  proper spin’s been put on preschool; all gender bias has been erased; and the final bedtime report’s been given.

Ahh…my little girl.  Asleep after a full day’s work.


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