Let's start in the middle and work our way around from there.
The 18-month-old fell off the bed around 3 o'clock on Tuesday morning. She wasn't in her bed because around 2 o'clock Tuesday morning she awoke her father with cries that could have shook the dead but somehow didn't manage to stir her older sister who was sleeping no more than 10 feet away.
So her father let her cry (just for a minute, now, hoping she would fall back asleep), but that wish faded quickly. So her father pulled himself out of bed, traversed the dark house (stepping on a Barbie that somehow managed to elude cleanup capture from the previous night's tea party) and scooped up the weeping little girl.
The cries ceased. A small call of "daddy" reached the father's ears, and he and the child returned to the softness of the parental unit's queen-sized bed.
There was plenty of room for the 235-pound man and the 25-pound child. Trouble was, though the hour was still late/early (depending on your point of view), the father couldn't go back to sleep.
He sat in the darkness with the now content child for an hour, thoughts running through his head about the coming day, bills to pay, deadlines and commitments. He stirred, decided to go into another room and see what Ed and Crissy were reporting on the early news. He made what he deemed a proper barricade, plush throw pillows on either side of the child; thinking the Sandman had long since paid her a visit.
Less than the time it took the father to retrieve the wayward Barbie and stow the blonde hair plastic piece of perceived female perfection, there came a thud, then another cry.
Yes, the child had managed to clamber over the barricade like sci-fi zombies over a puny Brad Pitt constructed wall.
In case you hadn't figured, I'm the father in this tale. And before you get indignant and call child protective services on me, the fall wasn't that far and it was onto a thick carpet and I'm pretty sure onto a pillow. In any event, the babe was fine, startled, but nothing a quick scoop by her dad and him holding her the rest of the night/morning (depending on your point of view) couldn't fix.
You see, my wife's out of town this week, traveling east to the land of the Braves and Falcons. So that leaves me and the girls (Lorelai, the oldest, and Amelia, the base jumper) here in Minden to go about business as usual.
During my stints as a "single" parent, I've learned a great many things about child psychology. Things reinforced this week:
1. Daughters love t-shirts that are their fathers, no matter how old or ratty the garment may be.
2. I know what Bill Cosby meant during his classic "Dad is great. He feeds us chocolate cake" routine.
3. The novelty of young sisters taking baths together has eroded as the older child now sprints to the bathtub, slams the door in her sister's face and ignores the wailing and bashing that ensues. The act results in me taking on the metaphorical role of the West seeking a peace accord between Israel and Palestine.
4. It doesn't matter how much time you spend making supper, the kid is going to look at the food with an upturned nose and ask for Lucky Charms. Ground must be stood.
5. Little girls really, really, really like Dancing With the Stars.
6. Little girls really, really, really hate spiders.
7. First grade homework is a lot harder than when I was rocking a Trapper Keeper and what would later be known as a Billy Ray Cyrus haircut.
8. Mr. Gregg is no longer feared, but rather he's the fella who gets a high five and pretty drawings with an LSU theme.
9. Scooby Doo gets watched before basketball. In actuality, that's no great loss.
10. At the end of the evening, after all the arguments about supper and baths are over, after the homework is completed and the toys are put away (except for Beach Time Barbie) there's no greater feeling than your two daughters curling up next to you on the couch; one of them on each side, listening to their father read them a story.
I thank God for the one-on-one time I have with my daughters. It's unique for men. And while we don't like it when Moma has to travel, I'm thankful for the deeper bond that is forming between father and child. It's a bond that will last a lifetime.
Correct that, it's a bond that will last for three lifetimes.
Josh Beavers is the vice president of Specht Newspapers, Inc. and publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. He is a two-time recipient of the Best Newspaper Column award given annually by the Louisiana Press Association.