Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are true … without exaggeration!] A slightly older Leah still naps as sweetly as the younger blondie did …
You are aware, aren’t you, that this column is late for your daughter’s celebration?
“Yes, Screen Four, I am. Just seems fitting, somehow.”
Usually a loved one is congratulated on – better yet, before – the birthday.
“Understood. Let me explain. Starting with the first years of my adult life – ”
Oh, smacks Three, grown up, have we?
“ – I couldn’t wait to be a dad. Leah’s pending arrival as a firstborn would grant me that long-sought title and extraordinary pleasure of parenting. Obstetrician even predicted Leah might be delivered on Father’s Day.”
What happened? asks Two.
“Leah changed her mind. Stayed in the oven two extra days.”
Cannot claim she is half-baked, admires Three.
“So now her birthday greetings will be delayed, and my Father’s Day congrats will be on time.”
Clever one, you are, says Five, sarcasm dripping.
“Don’t you roll your eyes at me in that tone of voice, Five. It’s not as petty as it sounds. And I did get over her Dad’s Day delay. Remember, I have tended and played with that little girl from the time she was still swimming inside her mother.”
Yes! laughs Six. Tucked within the womb, she pushes tiny feet against a massive-but-stretched-paper-thin tummy until you gently grasp them from the outside. When you let go, she swims to some other destination, there to await capture once more.
Lots of dads miss miraculous moments that way, sighs One.
Five asks, Difficult to raise an ADHD child, Black?
“Ha! The ‘daughter’ part is what this man never could figure out. The ADHD keeps things light, fun, easy despite tough stuff that comes.”
You’re speaking of her troubles with multiplication tables, ventures One.
“Anyone recall the solution we whip up?”
Laughs Four, You lay out a huge square of M&M candies, 12 rows across 12 columns. Whenever you ask Leah a math question – “What does four times five equal?” – and she correctly responds, she gets to eat the answer: the 20th M&M.
“Suddenly, she’s Einstein. Bang, I’m out of M&Ms!”
Three boasts, I helped in other areas, replaying a newspaper article for you … the one that claims a child’s language learning capacities fade by age seven if not used.
“And with that, I begin teaching Leah not only bigger, better words in English but also in other tongues of the world as well.”
It is priceless, indeed, chortles Three, to watch your little blondie call to classmates in Papua New Guinea’s commerce language!
French, too! exclaims Two. At night, after you’ve already tucked her in multiple times –
“The kid is a bed-time jumping bean! A household Houdini! No covers could keep her!”
– she reaches out her arms and asks, “Papa, voulez-vous m’embrasser?”
“I, of course, nod ‘yes, I want to give you a hug and a kiss.’ Strolling back to do so, I say a final time, ‘Good night, sweet dreams, sleep tight. Let the angels watch over you allll night.’”
Is that when she feigns innocence and asks whether “giraffe is spelled with one ‘ f ’ or two?” wonders Five.
“Too true,” I sigh, and close my eyes in remembrance.
All six screens catch cue and combine, giving me an IMAX-sized image of dad and daughter walking store aisles, wee hand in bigger, softly singing a Sam Cooke classic …
Don’t know much about history,
Don’t know much biology.
Don’t know much about a science book,
Don’t know much about the French I took.
We pause, intrigued by a polished glass creation we repeatedly roll through our hands because its smooth finish so pleases our sense of touch. Without eye contact, we resume our tune in perfect timing.
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be.
Indeed, the world is livelier, lovelier – wonderful – with Leah Blackwell in it.
Happy 29th, Blondie. Thanks for honoring me with fatherhood.
Postscript: Despite my methodical, mathematical M&M tutoring, a bright daughter overlooks a difficult birthday fact I as a devoted dad must cite.
“Leah arrives, of course, as a newborn. I am 29.”
Hey, chimes Two, now she is the same age you were at her birth!
“Correct. But do you understand what’s happened? Leah is catching me.”
Need a few details, Boss, suggests Six.
“At birth, my child is w-a-y younger than her proud daddy. But 29 years later, I am 58 … and Leah is half my age.”
All screens gasp.
“When my cute kid is 60, I will be 89, meaning – “
She is TWO-THIRDS your age! calculates astonished Four.
“At this rate, guys, I’ll soon be younger than Leah.”
* * * * *
The Beatles send their musical birthday wishes
You played at piano this way, Leah B – so much fun!