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Friday, June 07, 2013

Lily Goes Out

From the Sentiment-Steeped Past Dept.: I came across this little essay during yet another attempt to make sense of the computer files I have strewn across various hard drives and backup discs. I don’t know why I wrote it, and can’t remember why I wrote it in the third person. But it certainly captures a moment in my early stages of fatherhood.


LILY WAS AN independent-minded girl who had yet to turn two.

One afternoon, she woke from her nap, slid off the couch where she’d been sleeping, and hurried to where her father sat in front of his computer.

Lily's preferred costume in 1998.
She patted his leg to get his attention, then wrapped her hand around his finger and pulled him to his feet.

She pointed to the front door. “Out!” she said.

“You want to go out?” her father asked, somewhat needlessly.

“Da!” she said, nodding her head. “Da” was a simpler and more sensible form of “yes.”

“Let me check your diaper,” her father said, sliding an index finger behind the elastic of her pants. “Yep. As I suspected – that’s a pretty wet diaper. I want to put a dry one on you before we go out.”

Lily shook her head. She sang the word “no,” making it sound like a siren.

“Your butt’s all wet,” said her father. “It’ll just take minute.”


“Hmm.” Her father sank to a crouch. “How should we handle this?”

Lily pointed to the door. “Out!” she repeated.

Eager, as always,
to travel.
“Tell you what.” Lily’s father picked her up and carried her to the dining room table. “Let’s bounce.”

Still holding her under her shoulders, he bounced her across the table as if she were riding a pogo stick. “Lily’s bouncing!” he cried. “Look at her bouncing!”

With a deft movement of the wrist, he slipped her pants off her legs.

“She’s a bouncing baby!” he said. Lily laughed. He let her stand on the table while he unfastened and removed the two safety pins.

“Plastic pants coming off!” he said. “And now that wet diaper!”

Lily danced on the table. “I see your bare butt!” her father said. She giggled.

Lily’s father swept a diaper off the stack near the table and folded it into thirds lengthwise. He slid the cloth between her legs and brought two ends of it together at Lily’s left hip. She stopped dancing to let him pierce the cloth with a safety pin, which he closed safely.

The damn photos never
stop, do they?
He did this again with the diaper at her right hip.

“Dry plastic pants!” he shouted. “Lift up a leg!”

Lily let him pull the plastic pants up. She chose another pair of long pants, one with a paisley design, for the afternoon.

“How about some shoes?” her father asked.

Lily shook her head and pointed to the door. “Out!”

“Okay.” He lifted her from the table. “You’re right. I didn’t say anything about shoes before. It’s summer. You can go barefoot.”

He set Lily down and they walked to the front door together. He opened the door and Lily walked outside, taking care as she descended the front steps.

She led him to her sandbox, where they played.

– 12 September 1998

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