Girls have always been a mystery to me, and now that I have a small one of my own walking around the house, I understand them even less. The roller-coaster of emotions. The glitter. The way their smiles can somehow make everything ok again.
One thing I do understand is how much Mia misses me when we're not together. A couple years ago, I sent her home with one of my hoodies so she could keep me close when I'm not there. She slept with it and would bring it over to my place on my weekends.
Every now and then, daddy jacket needs a recharge. I'll rub it on my head, under my arms and on my feet. Mia will smile, take a big sniff and pretend that it's all better.
One time she forgot to bring daddy jacket with her to my place for the weekend. After I had tucked her in, she became untucked, found me and, in her tiniest pouty voice, told me that she couldn't sleep without daddy jacket. I walked her back to her bed and tried to comfort her, singing to her quietly as she cried.
It was clear that the original purpose of daddy jacket was lost. I was now a less-than-adequate substitute for my own jacket.
I could see it now. Her wedding day. It would not be me walking her down the aisle. It would be my jacket.
Thus I was presented with one of many daily conflicts that parents must face. Do I give her tough love, let her cry it out and make pancakes in the morning? Do I snuggle her to sleep?
No, there was clearly only one solution. I went to my closet, got out my favorite orange hoodie and took it to her room. I rubbed it on my head, rubbed it under my arms and on my feet. Her tears turned into a big smile, and everything somehow was ok again.
Sure, ten years from now she will suffer crippling separation anxiety when social pressure forces her to move on from the daddy jacket. I apologize in advance to her team of counselors.
Over the past couple years, the daddy jacket has become a staple. It comes and goes more frequently than her rubber band jewelry or electronic device. And there are several daddy jackets on rotation at any one time. It's quite the operation. Lots of recharging to do.
At the end of the day, it works. As a parent, there are many decisions we make to try and help them later. Sometimes you just have to do the thing to help them now.
If only I had a Mia jacket.