Sometimes being an explorer teaches everyone a valuable lesson.
Recently I noticed Anna on the ground, butt in the air, looking under her dresser. I had just finished folding laundry (and by "folding laundry" I mean "shoving my unfolded clothes under the bed to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with my wife") when I spotted her little butt waving in the air. It's not unusual for her to look under things, but it is unusual for her to continue looking under things for longer than 30 seconds—and, by my watch, she had been there a solid 4 minutes.
I made my way into her room and stood within her peripheral. She didn't budge. Normally she'd pop up, hold her arms in the air, grin and say "Mommy!" (A cruel joke she likes to play on me, likely getting even for all the times I accidentally call her by her sister's name). Not this time, though. She was focused.
"Hey Anna," I said, in a pretending-to-not-be-concerned concerned voice. "What're looking at?"
Without lifting her head from the carpet, she pointed under the dresser. I thought to myself, What could possibly be under there that had her attention? A toy? A spider? A pair of my underwear from the last time I "folded laundry"? I leaned down on the ground—butt in the air, top of my head touching the top of Anna's head—and peeked under with her. I didn't see anything.
"Anna, I don't see anything."
Finally, she lifted her head with a serious look on her face, pointed under the dresser again and, with authority, let me know exactly what she saw.
As many parents know, "BobBob" is 1-year-old speak for SpongeBob, the lovable (and most tolerable) cartoon character on Nickelodeon. His antics are often ridiculous and make little sense, much like this under-the-dresser situation.
"But Anna, BobBob isn't under there."
"BobBob!" She continued to point.
So I bent down to look again. Still nothing. I was beginning to think that Anna was somehow in cahoots with her sister, executing a master plan of keeping me preoccupied while my oldest stole a box of Yogos out of the pantry. Then I remembered that we were out of Yogos, so the joke would be on them.
"I don't see him, dear." I lifted my head again. She looked so disappointed in me. She let out one last plea.
It was then that I realized who cares if SpongeBob is actually under there or not. If her imagination believes he is, maybe he is. Maybe he lives under the dresser with the clumps of carpet fuzz and my "folded laundry." And maybe it makes her feel safe knowing a friendly face looks after her every night, albeit an imaginary one. All I know is that she's my daughter and I love her, and if she sees "BobBob," well then I see him too.
"Do you want me to keep looking for him under there with you?"
She nodded enthusiastically, gave me a kiss and dropped back into adventurer position on the ground, butt in the air. I did the same. We spent a good part of the afternoon searching for SpongeBob and, I have to say, it was an adventure I'm glad I didn't miss. Apparently it was a moment Anna's older sister didn't want to miss either.
"What are you guys doing?" Ella asked, as she walked up to us holding a box of Oreos.
"We're searching for … wait, where did you get those Oreos?" I asked.
"No where," she said. The she winked at Anna and exited the room.
Valuable lesson learned.
The Life of Dad is updated every Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian