New Year’s eve morning, Rose and I decide to make breakfast in our pajamas. We are having waffles because they are delicious and a rare treat and we have fresh local Vermont syrup and because, unlike Mama, Papa can’t make pancakes without burning them. This despite having read to Rose a biography of Fannie Farmer complete with instructions for griddle cakes. Samuel is sitting in a sling in my left arm far from the counter, not completely awake, staring blankly into space and clutching his cowboy blankee. Dawn is passing back and forth in the hallway on various errands.
“Papa, I love Samuel more than I love anything.”
“That’s great, Rose.”
“I love him more than my stuffed toys.” Since her stuffed toys include her nighttime Snuggle Bunny, I am duly impressed.
“And Papa, I love Mama more than I love anything, too. I love her more than all my stuffed toys.”
There is a pregnant pause. It is very long, which I expected.
Last year, Rose was such a Daddy’s girl and made no effort to hide or disguise her preference. She didn’t mean to be rude, but she had no concept that she might have hurt Dawn’s feelings. Now, a year later, the pendulum has shifted the other way, and I am trying to behave with as much patience and understanding as Dawn showed last year.
“Rose!” Dawn calls from the other room. She has overheard this conversation and, after the silence has dragged on long enough, she calls out the question which I cannot ask. “Rose! What about Papa?”
Rose can tell from Dawn’s tone that she has done something rude. “Oh, Papa.” she says quickly,”Um, what do you love more than anything?”