I sometimes chat with Clara when I’m at work. Clara is only six years old, so when I say we “chat”, I mean she hides somewhere in the house with her mom’s phone and sends me messages via a speech to text function of Google Chat that she discovered. Since she can’t read my replies she insists that I convey my message using emojis. This makes sense to her. This is how she is learned about human communication here in the 21st century. She sends a brick of text which she only assumes actually says what she meant to say, and I send her back a flood of smiley faces and dancing cats which I hope will be a meaningful response. It’s really an accurate representation of the internet, if you think about it, only with slightly less angry politics.

Today Andrea told me that the girls broke a glass that had been sitting next to my bed. Before they could clean it up Lydia had tried to steal some of the shards so she could hide the “jewels” in her treasure box. Not long after that Clara told me her side of the story. I think. Here were her words:

“Clara (Frowny Face) (Flower Emoji) Do emos cut her foot she wanted to keep one of the broken glass as a tool this is what I’m sending to you I sent a flower because I’m sad because Lydia wants to step on the stuff I had to bring the shoes and I told her not to put stuff on them to try not to she didn’t go I’m just going to do this okay bye love you bye.”

Did she just call Lydia Emo? Clara is sending me a flower because her sister is suddenly Emo? While I was still trying to decipher this coded message, Clara continued.

“Lydia is dumb really excited she wouldn’t listen but she did not pick up thankfully I’m talking to you dad”

I was able to get the gist of that one pretty quickly. So, I sent a few frowny faces and happy faces and a dancing cat or two, to let her know that I was listening. I was worried that this might be ramping up to be one of her half hour long nonsense fest, but she gracefully finished the conversation a moment later, with some of the sweetest words I’ve ever received in a chat window.

“I love you very much daddy I wish were here to be hard to keep being gay and not going to Sicily Titus specially Titus I really wish you were here I love you love you bus Daddy daddy I love you very much”

“Keep being gay and not going to Sicily,” the little girl said affectionately to her father. And it meant all the world.

So, I am on my way home now, and when I get there I will have to continue to pretend that I’m not planning a trip to Sicily, and keep my shoes on until I’m sure that all of the “tools” have been picked up and have a good one on one with both of my daughters. You know, the emo and the lunatic.