Friday, October 26, 2007

Yummy

Dad knows how to put a smile on his daughter’s face.

Natalie and her younger sister, Nancy, loved bedtime, that special time when their dad would cuddle with his little girls and tell them stories while they used his belly for a pillow. Their favorite story was Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Each time their dad told that story, he told a different version. Instead of three bowls of porridge, there might be three steaks or three taco platters. Instead of three arm chairs, there might be three Lazy Boy recliners, each with its own TV. He also added extra stops for Goldilocks throughout the house. Sometimes she went to the bathroom and made the toilet overflow or used the bears' toothbrushes. Another time, in her attempt to escape, Goldilocks jumped out the window, landed on a motorcycle and rode off into the sunset.

Natalie and Nancy’s dad did more than perform for his daughters as he read to them, he made it an event. Whenever he read Natalie’s favorite book, Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti, he not only spoke in a different voice for each character, he also made heaping plates of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

But if the truth were to be told, Natalie and Nancy’s favorite thing about story time was what happened when their dad finished reading. That was when he tucked them in, kissed them goodnight, and told them of how much he loved his two little girls.

It always made Natalie feel loved when dad read to her, and as she got older, it made him happy that she still wanted him to read to her. For him, too, it was a sign of being loved.

When Natalie went to college it was the first time she had been so far away from her parents. One evening, feeling homesick, she called home.

Dad, detecting sadness in her voice as soon as he answered her call, began to read Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti over the phone, including making “yummy” noises as if he were also eating a plate of spaghetti. As always, it was a special moment with dad that put a smile back on Natalie’s face. It left her feeling as if she had just been tucked in for a good night of sleep.

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