This summer, I looked at my daughter’s face and saw, for the first time, that she will leave us.
You know this all along in a practical, commonsense way, but you don’t really know it when your daughter is standing before a tiny Playskool Kitchen Set, making frying noises with her mouth, and then bringing you a plastic hamburger on a plastic bun. You don’t know it in your heart when you walk out to center stage with your daughter during the 2nd-grade daddy/daughter dance recital, take a bow, return to your spot in the line, and then realize that your daughter is still center stage, curtseying and waving to the crowd, listening to the applause build as she gleefully refuses to cede the spotlight to the next daddy and daughter.
You know it, but you don’t know it. And then you see it and you have to look away quickly at the sunstruck horizon, at the little single-prop planes hauling long banners across a cloudless sky. This year, Abby didn’t go in the ocean once. Swimming in the ocean, we are told, “is for babies.” She stopped playing in the sand with Owen, too. This perplexed Owen for a while and then he came to accept it. Maybe he sees it, too.
“Look at that, Owen,” I say, pointing up at one of the banners. “Free body wax. We should do that. Get a free body wax.”