I love my daughter. I really, really, really do love her and all her tweenster ways.
She’s a precocious child and definitely is at that age, 11 1/2 years old, wherein she seems to think its her birthright to test just how much my very last nerve can handle of her goading, asking for things she already knows are not going to happen, or just exhibits that Gonzalez family tradition of being the smarty pants sarcastic weasel we always seem to be best at being. But I take all that in stride, because I really do love the kid.
Today, she decided that it would be really cool to show her little mini-Alana–a family friend two years her junior that emulates all Alana does–just how much she can get away with. Dad, of course, was the intended victim of Alana’s show of force.
I happened to be taking a shower and getting ready for work. I didn’t hear Alana creep in to the unlocked restroom. Otherwise, I’d probably have prepared myself, because I also didn’t know she had a pot of ice cold water with her.
There I was. Enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning shower. Not a care in the world. Well, okay, I did have lots of cares, otherwise I wouldn’t have been bothered to get up and get ready to go to work on what should have been a day of soccer in the park, catching up on accounting homework, or just lounging; however, at that moment, I felt carefree. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Well, little carefree me pretty much screamed like I suppose Alana’s little minion would scream if she’d had a pot full of ice cold water tossed over the shower curtain on her nice warm naked bod. What can I say? It caught me off guard. I may put of the facade of being Mr. Tough Guy, but you show me any guy enjoying his shower that can withhold that little girl scream when the ice water cometh.
Obviously, once I regained my composure and realized what had happened I let out the perfunctory, “ALANA!” To which I heard a snicker, a giggle, and the bathroom door slamming shut. I knew who it was and why she’d done it. It was now up to me to decide which direction to take.
Should I jump out, toss on a towel, and fully embarrass her by running out into her room and yelling like the mad dad that I was in front of her friend? Or, should I just open the bathroom door a smidge and yell out the same stream of angry fatherisms, but without chancing a visit from the police if the little friend decided to tell her parents about Alana’s dad running around naked in a towel in front of their daughter?
I decided to go with the former choice rather than the latter.
I shut off the water, got out, dried off super quick and gathered my thoughts. Slowly I opened the door a crack and yelled her name again. This time she responded in her best and most unconvincingly innocent voice, “Yeah, dad?”
After about five minutes of me yelling at the top of my lungs descriptions of all the accidents her little prank could have caused, and then bellowing a few idioms to add some depth to my fatherly rantings, I told her that I’d speak to her further when I was done. That one always worked on me when I was a kid. The thought that my parents would take their time to think up things to punish me with always sent extra shivers of fear through mine and my siblings spines. Mostly, because our overactive young minds would overestimate what exactly our parents had in store. I was hoping that was what Alana was going through as I dressed.
As I emerged from the restroom, I immediately found out that I had been extremely successful in my psychological warfare and Alana was already exhibiting remorse. She’d gone out of her way to–in the space of the five minutes I’d taken to shave and brush my teeth and dress–get my backpack packed with my laptop and books. She’d also started on making me a quick sandwich for lunch and had her little friend helping her. As I entered the kitchen, I kept my stern look of disapproval on to make sure she knew I hadn’t been kidding with my outrage at her ice water assault. Alana recognized it and, whether it was real or not, did her best not to crack a smile. She knew that she’d crossed a line and was doing her best to show what I ascertained to be her best “I’m sorry I did that, Dad” face to me and her friend.
It worked. I relinquished a bit and winked at her. As she handed me my lunch and backpack, I gave her a hug and as I walked toward the door, I let her know she’d better not do it again—lest dad get his penultimate revenge.
Hey, I never said I didn’t have a sense of humor about it all.