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Matilda Part IV

Figure 1: Father/daughter reading before bed, as we do

Adrian and I don’t have a lot in common. We have completely different tempers. We’re not one of those couples that have a million shared hobbies or activities. You’ll never see us rollerblading around Lake Calhoun, for example. We don’t even read the same kind of books.

Sometimes we like the same TV shows. We both like going to movies. We like a lot of the same food. And we both think the other is pretty great for no discernible pragmatic reasons; we lack the eHarmony compatibility factor. We totally have that inexplicable Romance Novel Love that generally sickens me when I see it in books.

So our kid is like a point of pride, our shared project, something we have in common at last. Someone that we marvel over together. He’ll tell me something funny/cute (Adrian only started saying things were ‘cute’ after Matilda was born) that she did or said and we’ll both grin and laugh conspiratorially.

(Probably you’re thinking, once the kid goes to college, their Romance Novel Love will dissolve and they’ll get a divorce. Okay, maybe. That, or we’ll take up rollerblading. But let us live in the now, shall we?)

Anyhoo, it’s pretty amazing to look at someone and see yourself. Or see the person you love. See, literally, their facial expression. Or see, figuratively, their personality. Matilda is very tough. She doesn’t cry much and she can handle a lot more physicality than I can/could. And she is not befuddled by math. And she is artistic visually.

But she laughs at the same things I laugh at. And over and over, she’ll laugh at some weird thing that pleases her for reasons no one else can see. I do the same thing.

And she is a total thrill-seeker, just like her father. A lover of spectacle, of anything loud and bright, of going on her dad’s scooter, or flying around in his arms, of any and all carnival rides.

One Saturday morning, we heard her get out of bed, thump around finding clothes, and then slam, she ran out the door. Adrian and I looked at each other, knowing where she was headed, wondering what her plan was.

My sister told us shortly afterward. “Matilda shows up in my bedroom, where I was still sleeping. She had the entire set of Little House on the Prairie books. She said, ‘Peekoo, my mom hates these books and won’t read them to me. So it’s up to you to do it. We better get started.'”

That’s the kind of thing that makes Adrian and I think, god, what a great kid. And makes me laugh, over and over, every time I tell that story.

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