You Like Me Daddy

It was a long night. My 3yo had a pretty nasty stomach bug. Most of it was a blur of changing sheets and pjs and shuttling containers of throw up from her room to the toilet.

I’m not sure what time it was exactly, but I knew it was either really early or really late, somewhere in the AM, when I was exhausted and puked on and wondering how I would possibly make it through work the next morning, when Aspen looked up at me in the lamp light, the front of her Peppa Pig pajamas soaked, and said “You like me, Daddy.”

Then she gave me a twisted grin that seemed to show how undeniable her statement was.

Part of me wanted to say, “No. Not right now.” I mean, honestly, in situations like this I feel a strong desire to abandon my children. I never do, but there is something about puke that makes me want to call it a day on this whole parenting gig. Part of me wanted to say, “Obviously, I like you.”

But the biggest, most overwhelming feeling was of warmth. I felt a tender heat in my chest when she said that.

“Yeah,” I said. “I like you.”

She smiled.

Then she threw up again.

I don’t know what it is about little kids and being able to turn a moment, but right then it was clearly true. I did like her. In fact, I loved her. I knew it. And although it was a horrible nasty night, I couldn’t help but think about this moment at work the next day, bloodshot eyes and all. I told my coworkers about it, and they gave me a knowing smile, and then told me about something similar with their own kids.

I’ve often heard people say that children have a power over you, but they never go into too much detail. They never explain that although moments like a sick kid in the night sucks in so many ways, having them say “thank you” in their own childlike way makes everything, even the nasty times, worth it.

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