Archive for September, 2012

See You Soon

Cotton Candy Girl By Sparkle Girl

This column first appeared in the August 2012 issue of Forsyth Family Magazine:

It has been years since I slept through the night. When I get up, I’m usually on my own. The other night, as I passed by Mr. Doobins’ door, I heard his voice in the dark: Would I be willing to get him a cup of milk? Sure, I said.

I went into the kitchen, pulled the milk carton out of the refrigerator, poured a cup and took it in to him. The refrigerator light had dimmed my night vision, so I had trouble seeing him and it took a moment to get our hands properly aligned for the handoff. “Thank you,” he said, when we did.

“You’re welcome,” I said. I stood there for a moment. “See you soon,” I said and turned to leave.

“See you soon,” he said.

I can finger some of the elements that made the moment so satisfying – the sweet tone of his voice in the quiet of the night, the request being so simple and so easily fulfilled. It also had something to do with the “see you soon,” knowing that, yes, indeed, I would see him and Sparkle Girl and Garnet soon and that we would start another day together.

If you have a family, you have your own version of such moments and recognize them for the gifts that they are. Maybe you tell someone else about them. Maybe you don’t because you know that, from the outside, they don’t sound like much.

If you’re looking to entertain people, it’s so much more straightforward to tell them about that time you were flying in a biplane and, when the pilot did a hammerhead stall, it felt as if the leather straps were all that kept you from flying out of the cockpit into the sky. Or perhaps you trot out that story about the time you went on a trip and accidentally got locked in an unfamiliar garage after everyone else had gone to bed and had to spend the night there, with all the time in the world to imagine the razzing your friends would give you after they woke up in the morning and rescued you.

Satisfying moments of the “see you soon” variety just happen. But, with family life, it’s certainly possible to orchestrate other kinds of satisfying moments. One of the things that I enjoy doing is saying something maddening or preposterous to see the look that it elicits from Sparkle Girl. Sometime after she turned 12, she introduced the simple eye roll to let me know that I had said or done something worthy of a look of feigned disdain.

Undoubtedly, there are those who are content to call it quits after developing one or two basic looks. Not Sparkle Girl. She believes that each misstep on my part calls for a fresh expression and, half a year after turning 13, she continues to come up with distinctive variations. Every so often, she comes up with something so entertaining that I have to stop and compliment her.

As an artist, she appreciates the recognition. In the course of life, I routinely earn the looks just by being my everyday self. But, if I ever want an extra one, I know that I can say something outlandish and be instantly rewarded.