“Daddy!” cried my daughter. She had gotten used to saying my name more often now that her mother and I had separated. It not longer made her cry when she only said ‘Daddy’ and not ‘daddy and mummy’.
I turned to see her running towards me in her purple tutu; one that I had bought for her 2nd birthday. She wore an orange t-shirt that had a bright yellow shooting star ironed to the front.
“Daddy!” She cried again. I picked her up and pulled her close to snuggle her. She giggled as my freshly trimmed beard tickled her face. Her angelic, sweet face.
I squeezed her cheek and said, “Now now, Abby, what shall we do today before Daddy leaves for work?”
Abby looked around for a moment, pushing her hand into her mouth. She looked around with her wide brown eyes and then squealed and lifted up her arms, signaling to me to let her go. I slid her down to the floor and she ran to her bedroom, pushing the door open slightly.
I checked my watch as she walked away and noticed the time. I grimaced. Soon enough we would need to go to the caregiver to drop her off while I went to work at the office. Would we make it?
I craned my neck toward the door and said, “Only one book, okay darling?”, assuming she’d be puling out one of her favorite Dr. Seuss books.
I walked to the door and pushed the slightly ajar door even more ajar to see her squatting on something resting above a fluffy pillow. I laughed (to which she laughed as well) and squatted in front her. She was squatting over something I vaguely remember her mother buying for her.
I said, “Abby? What’s that?”
“What have you got under your bum?”
As I reached to pick her up she squealed and dashed away, carrying the toy egg she had been squatting on with her to the other side of the room. I hung my head and laughed.
“That silly girl of mine.” I smiled. “Okay, Abby, I’m assuming you want me to read ‘Horton Hatches the Egg’ to you. Correct?”
Abby nodded her head as she stuck out her tongue.
“Okay,” I said, “Just once, okay? Daddy’s got to go to work soon, darling.” Abby nodded.
I grabbed Abby and pulled her on top of my lap while placing the book on her lap for her to read along. I began by clearing my throat and began:
Sighed Mayzie, a lazy bird hatching an egg:
“I’m tired and I’m bored
And I’ve kinks in my leg
From sitting, just sitting here day after day.
It’s work! How I hate it!
I’d much rather play!
I’d take a vacation, fly off for a rest
If I could find someone to stay on my nest!!"
Abby acted out Mayzie’s part as I read, falling backwards when I stated her boredom, throwing her arms up as I read Mayzie’s complaints. I smiled silently- my little girl was going to be a star someday, I just knew it.
We read like that for the next 15 minutes- me reading with dramatics and silliness, her acting out the parts as we went. Reading to her like this reminded me of her mother. Her mother was often the one who would act out the parts we read to Abby to keep her entertained- I was never good at body movement or expressions.
I looked at Abby’s little pigtail atop her head- one that was very hard to master, by the way. She was so in tune with her expressions… just like her mother.
When my wife left us, we felt very alone. Much like Horton. I was left with Abby when she was still a baby, just several months old. I had to learn how to change her diaper while I cleaned the living room. Or to do her laundry while learning how to give her proper baths. It hadn’t been easy, but I had remained faithful to my little bug. I stayed with her even though her mother didn’t- couldn’t- oh, I don’t know.
We came to my favorite part and Abby said it with me:
"He meant what he said and he said what he meant, an elephant's faithful 100%!"
Abby squealed and rocked back and forth. I had to grab her head so that it wouldn’t bump the floor as she did so. “Alright, Abby, not too much.” She giggled and smeared her sticky fingers onto the page.
We continued to read and I realized just how much I related to good ole’ Horton. I really felt as if I had been abandoned as well. People had even mistreated me like they did him; coworkers, family-in-law. However odd it was, I related to a fictitious elephant.
We neared the end, and when I turned to the second to last page, Abby began to pout and shake her arms.
“No, no, Abby. You can’t do this every time. I need to work, darling.” She looked back at me and pouted. “No, sweetheart.” I whispered. “Your dad’s got to work.” She turned back around silently staring at the book.
I hated when she did this, it broke my heart, it really did. But I needed to be the good guy and the bad guy, I guess.
“Okay, one last page! Do you want to turn the page for Daddy?”
Abby grabbed the page with all 5 little fingers and turned the page; still quiet, but she wasn’t pouting anymore, which led me to believe she was willing to have a better attitude. I’d have to remember her good behavior for later on tonight when we chose a movie to watch.
We read on. Horton was finally found by Mayzie, and to both of our dismay, she suddenly wanted her egg back even though she had done none of the work. Abby shook her head as I read the line:
"The work was all done. Now she wanted it back."
To me, this would be a living nightmare. I would never give up my Abby. And Horton felt the same. Although he gave up the egg in the end, he was still sad to do so, and I don’t blame the guy.
We finished the book and I flipped the last page, shutting the book. “Oh, goodness.” I sighed, how heartbreaking. Abby didn’t pay me any mind but kept pointing at the back cover of the book.
I put the book on the ground and stood up, pulling Abby to her feet. “Okay, Abby we are done! Yay” I reached down to give her a high five, and she ignored me.
“Okay, so Daddy’s going to grab your backpack and shoes and wipes and…” I looked around. What else did she need again? How frustrating it was to do this alone.
I turned to find her and she was dancing in the middle of the room. I smiled and picked her up and danced with her.
It may have been hard to be a single dad, but I realize now that she really was mine. My own little elephant bird.
I hope you all enjoyed this post!! It was inspired by the man, Dr. Seuss himself- one of my favorite authors of all time. He was so unique and kind. Because of him, I loved to read as a child.
His birthday is tomorrow (woohoo🎉) and I really wanted to commemorate this to him and thank him for his gentle teaching and creative storytelling. Here’s to the new generation reading Dr. Seuss!
If you would like to see more creative writing like this, please subscribe and like this post, too!
Have a great week, you guys!