08/08/2011 By Shawn Burns

A bedroom door bursts open, tiny muscles propelling the wood to describe an arc into the dark, quiet space where I am still sleeping. She patters across the floor, her continuation a quiet contrast against her closing-number entrance. As though counter-weighted with curiosity, my left eyelid lifts open against my will, shining a dim morning light into my mind.

“Hey daddy,” she begins with a whisper, recognizing the sacredness of the darkness, affording it a belated respect. “Daddy…”┬áMy ears lack a swivel, but they focus intently on this tiny visitor in pink pajamas; she has important things, the most important things, to say to them.

“When I was at the mall with Sidney and Adrian,” and her voice grows louder, crashing waves across the dark pool, “and mommy and grandma, “and now her voice is bright, like the sun beyond the shutters must be, “and there was a moose there!”

There was a, no, there never was, but she seems so, yes.

-“And he was not a nice moose. He drank my water. He did not even ask me. That moose was not shy.”

-“No, I’m just kidding. He was shy.”

-“Hey, daddy? Can I play one of my Wii games? I slept soooooo good.”

This is a new tactic. She should have gone with something harder to do than sleep, though. Also, kid, you slept well, not good.

“Daddy, do you have any waffles?” This is a question I can handle. Breakfast, I am the one responsible for breakfast. I am the one who can quiet “scrumbly” tummies. So, “Yes, sweetie, I have waffles. Do you want me to make you some?” I start to move the impeding covers out of the way, on my way to the kitchen, the freezer, the toaster, the day.

“No, I want Honey Nut Cheerios.” Then why did you even…?

“With milk daddy. I can help you!” I cringe, but only on the inside.

“You get the container down, daddy, and the bowl and I will do the rest.” I lift the large plastic container off the shelf, present her with it, and with a bowl, and wait for her to begin pouring. My mind is already in the garage, with the broom and the dustpan, my eyes are scouting locations, anticipating where the Cheerios will end up. She surprises me a little by removing the lid entirely. She surprises me not at all by reaching in with a hand and craning a handful of cereal out, and into her bowl. Two grain circles roll around the table before settling, before she spies them and pops them into her mouth.

I blow her mind completely by telling her that she needs to use a spoon instead of rummaging around the common stock with her bare hand. I hand over a large sauce spoon, and she fills her bowl with it, demonstrating entirely typical coordination. More escapees end up crunching between her teeth before the milk is even poured. She begins to eat in earnest, and I have a moment.

I remember her brother, still sleeping, and prepare to offer him breakfast as an incentive to join us, to come out of his crib and begin enjoying the day, the morning, moose stories, waffle refusals, pleas for games, life, grain cereal.

A bedroom door bursts open, marbled muscles propelling the wood to describe an arc into the dark, quiet space where he is still sleeping. I stagger across the floor, my continuation a one-for-the-road exclamation point on a closing-time entrance. As though counter-weighted with curiosity, his right eyelid lifts open against his will, shining a dim morning light into his mind.

“Hey bubs,” I begin, but I am quickly cut off. He squeezes his eye shut. “No, daddy,” he mutters, and turns his head away.

I wish I had thought of that. I am glad I didn’t. I leave the room, return to the tiny one with the pink pajamas, and let her play some of her games before her brother wakes up. She slept so good.