One of my earliest memories goes back to when I was a toddler of around two or three. Dad and I apparently decided on a game of catch. Or it could be that I was chasing him for something else entirely. The recollection is vague. I remember being excited and hardly being able to keep up with Dad on my chubby legs, breathless and racked with spirited giggles.
Dad ran into the bedroom, followed by myself. Then he did this panicking-clown impression which cracked me up entirely, and used my pause to swerve right past me, out into the adjoining corridor. Of course, I didn’t want to get left behind and I ran after him. Just as I reached the doorway, the backward swing of the door caught me unawares, right in the face. Slam! I sat down hard on the floor, not understanding what had hurt me.
Dad shot back to my side in an instant and gathered (the wailing) me into his arms, and in another instant Mom materialized out of nowhere. She went hysterical with worry, which prompted me to wail louder and wallow in all the sympathy, concern and extra love. Soon after, all was well and I sat teary-eyed but content and unhurt between my parents right there on the floor, ice packs melting around us and lotions and creams strewn around. Mom has always been clever with child emergencies. She was pretty vexed about the accident and clearly disapproved of Dad’s little game.
Little devil that I was, I put on a disapproving expression too, and looked up at Dad, silently joining Mom in her not-so-silent admonition. And then I saw the look on Dad’s face, so pained and confused, his eyes clouded with regret at my kiddy accident. I remember how the smirk left my face, touched by some emotion I did not know yet. I felt loved, and even at that early age, I understood how good it felt to have people to watch out for you, to treat you like a little queen.