The power of one piece of paper


It was great to get a gift on Father’s Day, and have a nice lunch hand delivered to me by my daughter, but the best thing I received Sunday was one piece of paper.

Brenna, our 15-year-old daughter, took the time to write me a note of how she appreciates all the things I do for her and the support I give her.

I constantly worry she’s shifting away from me. She and her mother have a great relationship and talk constantly. Mary has a better window into Brenna’s life in terms of girl stuff, friendships, interest in boys, etc. Fortunately, Mary is a very good journalist, so she is excellent at relaying information to me, so I feel like I’m mostly caught up on all things Brenna.

As a teen, she’s often just hanging out in her room on a device connecting with friends. Or out and about with said friends. Daddy-daughter time has been minimalized to some extent. It’s rare that we do more than get groceries together, or I drive her and often her friends to and from some gathering. Even with the latter instance, Mary seems to be the primary chauffeur in our household.

So it was quite touching to receive the note, praising me in a variety of ways, including allowing Finn the cat into our lives (I’m quite allergic, and have a short fuse when it comes to the little fur ball clawing his way up the furniture, or my leg).

She even said she thinks my “corny jokes” – her words – are funny. Corny? Really? OK, maybe a little.

Let’s face it; part of a father’s duty is to crack bad jokes. And since I’m a fan of puns and slapstick, there are plenty of corny jokes to go around every day.

I still cherish my time with the kid, even though she’s pressing more on her boundaries. Brenna’s a responsible, mature kid, and that has me too often thinking she’s older than her 15 years. When she slips up and stays up too late or makes a less-than-stellar decision, it can be frustrating as a parent.

But when I step back and look at the bigger picture, things could be so much worse. She’s a very good student and usually does make the smart choices.

When I think on it, the slip of paper she gave me wasn’t the best thing about Fathers’ day. Her being around was.

And it can sometimes be the little things that make her stand out. For instance, a couple of minutes after midnight, as Saturday transitioned into Sunday, Brenna popped into the living room, leaned over and gave me a kiss, wishing me a happy Fathers’ Day. She also grabbed the cat and took him away for a half hour, playing with the little guy so he’d be more likely to settle quickly with me as we both take our respective late night naps in the love seat.

Yeah, she’s a good kid all right.

Cat-atomic, not catatonic

Speaking of Finn the cat, the meatball was back at his Jekyll and Hyde best on the weekend, going from extremely cute to manic in a matter of seconds. He spent a couple of hours sleeping on Mary’s chest as she read a book on Sunday, only to later pounce on her head and try to bite her scalp.

Finn also thinks of himself as an interior decorator. We have a painting over the couch in the living room, and when the cat is in full whacko mode, he’ll get up on the back of the couch and stare at the painting. If we don’t distract/discourage him or get there fast enough, he’ll take a swat at a corner of the painting.

On Sunday morning, I got up and noticed the painting was no longer level. After a trip to the bathroom, I returned to find it perfectly level.

Hmm, I wonder who was responsible for knocking it askew in the first place? As for leveling it, since no one else was up in the house at that point, it also had to be Finn’s handiwork.

We allow him into the basement now, and it’s a new area of exploration for him. At times, he’ll be happy playing with a wadded up piece of paper down there. And then I’ll look up to see the light from the lamp beside me flickering on the ceiling. I look over expecting to have to screw in the light bulb a little tighter, only to see a bit of dust floating down off the lampshade and Finn looking innocently my way while sitting atop the end table.

The thing about Finn is he can’t keep up that innocent look for very long. He quickly sprang away to find something else to satisfy his curiosity, however briefly.

We bottle up that curiosity when we’re at work, putting him in a room that contains his litter box, bed, food and water.

When Brenna comes home from school, he is released.

His typical greeting is to show a great deal of affection, purring warmly. And then after you pick him up and pet him, he’ll generally chomp down on a finger. Once deposited back on the floor, he’ll usually go for your toes as you walk.

Yes, we’re working on breaking those habits. Day after day.




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