In the morning, in the dark, I walk back to Violet's room and I find her standing up, leaning on the rail with highly advanced coolness: like Mick Jagger in the video for Waiting On A friend. We can barely make each others grins out without any light, but we see enough. I raise her up to me, pull her to my chest, and put her nose or her ear in my mouth and buzz her good morning with my flappy lips. She smiles at that and sometimes she laughs.
Out in the living room, we hang out on the couch together. She squirms and tries to roll out of my arms. She doesn't think about where or why. She just wants to bust free. Let me go, she says without saying it. Let me fall on my head this morning. Let me get that out of the way already, this falling on my head stuff.
I keep putting her up on my knees though. With my feet up on the coffee table, I plop her up on my knees and blow a bit of air right into her eyes and her hair. That fascinates her every time. Little puffs of wind coming out of Daddy's face...you can see the puzzled look in her eyes as she tries to make sense of that. Later on, in a few years, she'll figure out that I do a lot of stuff purely for entertainment purposes. Dances. Songs. Robot beeps and shit. I hope she likes that kind of stuff when she gets a bit older. If not, I'm in trouble because I have already started doing things like that a lot. It would be pretty tough for me to just cut it all out all of the sudden. Even if I wanted to I can't say that I could.
After a while, I'll put V in her high chair and peel some banana for her. I squeeze the mega-ripe tree turd and small sections of it just break off the mother fruit. Then I use my fingers to pick apart even smaller bits, arranging them in a short round field down on the tray in front of my daughter. By the time I have a dozen or so set out, she is already three pieces in, with banana gunk mushed into strands of her hair, banana pulp damming up at the corners of her lips.
I make a squawk or a coyote growl sound just so she doesn't get all into the food and forget about me, my efforts over here.
She looks at me/takes me in/nothing has changed/she looks away.
I get the jug of apple juice out of the fridge and sing a caffeinated line or two about me doing that. This too, will only get me a swift moment of eyes fixing my way; little radars sweeping the kitchen, the world, they don't need to settle too long on the dude in the Jagermeister T-shirt and Jack Daniels morning pants to know that his falsetto attempts at attention aren't worth the effort, really.
Still, I sing.
Then, when I get one of the smaller bottles filled up with juice, the top screwed on tight even though I know its still gonna leak all over my kid's chest, I set it down on the counter and we do our little joke that we do.
I shake the big jug and the juice sloshes all over inside. Then Violet looks up from the three pounds of banana on her eyebrows and in her nostrils. She grins big, knowing its time.
I tilt the giant jug (lid still on) for her to drink from. And she clicks her possum teeth onto the plastic and pretends to drink away, right down to even swallowing invisible juice.
After a few seconds, I see her looking up at me like, "Can we be done now?"
And with that: I laugh out loud, a real Falstaff chortle, and let the jug down with one hand and with the other one I hand her her real bottle of juice so that she can have a sip already and just get on with the rest of her breakfast for Chrissakes.