Today, after Laurea and Kina headed off to gymnastics, I went back to trim the binding perforations off of some early The Daily Kina editions (so I can pack more in the boxes, and also because it was lazy of me ever not to have trimmed them, so I pay my trimming taxes during gymnastics now).
One of the headlines I found is among my favorites of all time: “If We Make Steak the Smoke Will Set Off the Smoke Detector and It Will Go Out and Fill Up the Neighborhood and We’re Gonna Get In Trouble and We Will Have To Move Somewhere Else Where There’s No Steak”. It is from November 14, 2020, and Kina was still three years old.
I remember the car seat manual, in November of 2020, saying that the seat should be used until the child is both over forty inches tall and forty pounds in weight, which is how I know that Kina was both smaller and lighter than that at the time I wrote this edition. She was too heavy to carry for blocks at a time, but I routinely put her up on my shoulders and paraded her all over the city without giving it a single thought.
It was late last year, I think, that I started giving Kina “blimp rides” to bed—asking for her ticket, remarking at the access the ticket granted her, noting that the blimp was otherwise empty, and offering her a special welcome juice as we floated lazily from the couch to her bedroom. At the time, she was light enough that I could lift her up easily, get her snuggled up on my neck, and tiptoe through the kitchen.
Lately, the porters of the bedtime blimp have complained of back pain and pulled muscles after hauling Kina into her first-class berth. She’s a big kid now, and we’ve changed the car seat to accommodate her bigness. She is both taller than forty inches and heavier than forty pounds—seemingly by a good margin. I use my legs to lift her and have to toss her over my shoulder a ways, carrying her to bed like a sack of rocks.
Today, as we were walking back from the park, I put her up on my shoulders for the first time in months, going as far as I could—five blocks, maybe?—before letting her down again. I held onto her knees and listened as she pulled a few leaves off the trees we passed. I felt her hands on my ears and remembered when I’d first carried her on my shoulders—her chin pressing into the back of my head, light as a feather. She was not the feather today, and with each passing block, I felt my vertebrae compress a little more.
I didn’t want to let her down, because I’m not sure when the day will come in which she’ll take the last ride on my shoulders, and I’m wondering if this was it, and if the rest of our relationship as father and daughter will be walking side by side instead of stacked up and down. I want to keep carrying her for the rest of my life; it is my favorite job. I can’t—not because I’m older (though I am), but because she is older.
I told her that last night as she reached up for a blimp ride to her room. Noted that she’s a big girl and it’s getting harder to float through the kitchen with her. “I’m not that big,” she replied, “I’m really just five.”
And five she is—two years on from three—and two months out from six.
You know, I haven’t cooked steak since that day. I like us being here.