She tells me she misses her Daddy. “I just need him,” she sniffles. “I just need my Daddy and I miss him!”
I am trying to be calm and kind, but I am tired and I just need him and miss him too. I give her another hug and tell her that. “But we have to be brave,” I say. “He’ll be back in a few more days and then we can give him GREAT BIG KISSES!” I lay her down in her bed, snuggling her between her purple sheets, covering her with her purple patchwork quilt.
“I want to give him kisses now!” she declares. And I remember.
I remember my dad heading out for late meetings at the church or shifts at work or whatever else called him away from home in the evening. And I remember my mom pointing east, or south, or whatever direction he was. “He’s that way,” she would tell us. “Blow him kisses!” We would blow big kisses in the direction she pointed and then flop back onto the pillows of our bunk bed. And in the morning–
“Daddy! Daddy! Did you feel my kisses last night?!”
Of course he had. What daddy worth his salt wouldn’t?
So now I lean over my four-year-old and wipe a little tear from her face. “You know what we can do?” I say. “We can blow Daddy kisses all the way to camp. And he’ll get them, because kisses always find their way. And then when Daddy comes home, you can ask him and he’ll say, ‘Oh, yes, I was just sitting at camp and WHOOMP! a big squishy kiss landed right on my cheek!’ Do you want me to help you?”
She sits up in her bed, scattering dolls and stuffed animals. “Yes!” Of course she does. I point toward her closet.
“He’s that way,” I explain. “So look that way, and blow him a great big kiss, like this!” I demonstrate the proper form for long-distance-kiss-blowing. She is a quick learner.
“MUWAH!!” she exclaims dramatically, flinging her arm toward her closet. “MUWAH!!! Kisses for Daddy!”
“And kisses for Mommy,” I add, tucking her back in and leaning my face near hers. Her soft lips brush my cheek and I smile.
“I love you, Pooka. Sleep well.”
“I love you too, Mommy. Goodnight.”
Turning off the light, I leave the door open just a crack as I leave the room. Just in case any kisses need to find their way back to her. I expect they will.