I was putting my shoes on in the living room when she appeared at the top of the stairs. I could hear her raspy breathing and knew she was there before I looked up. She had woken up in the night complaining about having trouble breathing and asking to blow her nose. It was obvious that the cold that has slowed her sister Lydia the past few days is now slowing Clara down as well. Now she just stood there, swaying slightly.
I motioned for her to come sit next to me on the couch while I finished getting ready.
A moment or two after she sat down she began to tell me what she had been doing up stairs while I was getting ready for work and everyone else was sleeping, “I needed to blow my nose last night.”
“I remember.” I told her. Who could forget that four in the morning conversation.
“Well.” she continued. “I realized that I need some toilet paper near my bed at night. So, I went into my bathroom in the hallway just now and I found a baggy with three toilet papers in it and I tore off three more toilet papers and I put them inside the baggy too, so I can use them to blow my nose at night.”
My shoes were tied now. I turned and tousled her hair. “That’s great Clara. That’s what I love about you. You see a problem, and then you think up practical solutions all on your own to solve them.”
“Yeah.” she agreed modestly. “I still need your help a little bit though.”
“How’s that?” I asked.
“Well. When you get home tonight, I need you to move the bathroom into my closet, and then maybe move the closet down stairs somewhere.”
She looked at me quite seriously and repeated herself. “I need you to move the bathroom so it’s in my bedroom. That way I can get to the toilet paper baggy without having to walk into the hallway or something.” Then she said, “You know.” and wiggled her head back and forth and made some incomprehensible movement with her hands. I, in fact, did not know.
“Huh…” I said, looking down at my feet. “Huh…” I repeated looking back at her. “I think maybe you are still tired, and should try to get back to sleep for a little while.”
She gave me a hug and wandered back up the stairs silently.
I really am touched by her incomprehensible gibberish though, having considered it throughout the day. Because in her tired mind I believe she heard me say that I was proud of her, because she could solve her own problems now, and didn’t need me anymore. So, in a moment of panic, realizing that I was no longer holding on to her bicycle and she was riding alone without knowing it, she grappled inside herself for a solution that I could be involved in. And she chose a task for me that, while complete nonsense, is in her mind entirely feasible for her Daddy to accomplish.
Someday she will discover that she is balancing life on her own, and her mother and I are not needed. And someday she will understand just how powerless and incapable her father really is. I am just glad she has not arrived there yet.