I’m not a very good dancer. About every 10 years or so, a brief confluence of adrenaline, endorphins and booze brings some rhythm into my soul and I manage to keep in step with some music at a wedding. They just need to play the right 70’s disco tunes. All of this is lost on my 2 ½ year-old daughter, who somehow decided I’m not only really good at dancing, but that I also like doing it.
So every night when I get home from work, we do this circular death march in our living room until I can’t take it anymore. Me hunched over holding her outstretched arms and she gazing up and manipulating me with the most genuine, satisfied smile I’ve ever seen. I comfort myself by thinking: this skill will surely come in handy throughout her life.
So after a song or two, I take a break on the couch while she stands there urging: "Daddy, geddup." I hear myself saying: "Daddy needs a break" and I try to rationalize this. I had a long day, I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m., toddlers have ridiculous amounts of energy—anything execpt: I’M PUSHING 40 AND I’M FALLING APART.
After a few more dances and some airplane rides, I’m dizzy and tired and look for any excuse to stop—walking the dog, taking out the trash, scraping moss off the roof—but no matter what I come up with, Sophie says: "Can I come too, Daddy?" I’m starting to feel a lot of pressure.
By the time dinner’s on, I get a break, though there’s often a book to be read at the table or stickers to stick, but they need to be peeled off first.
After hours of struggle—coloring, Play-Dough, more books, possibly "one show" on TV—Sophie agrees to stay in her bed. If we give her some crackers. And a sippy cup with milk, plus her passy and her yellow blanket. Then one more story. Then another story. By 10 p.m. she is ready to let me leave the room without screaming. But first she needs to put the big light on so she can read for a while.
Downstairs in bed with my wife I can hear Sophie pattering into the kitchen to get grapes from the fridge, one every minute or so. The the toilet flushes and something loud crashes down on the hardwood floor. Eventually I’m too tired to worry any more and, secure in my role as the guy who entertains our daughter, I drift off to sleep. The last thing I remember is making a mental note to clean up dog poop in the yard sometime this week.
That and why do I keep hearing "Get Down, Boogie Oogie Oogie" in my head.