The Leashed of These

“First thing we do, dear, we get that child into a harness!” The mandate erupted from my sister. Sis had just learned from my wife of our young daughter’s momentary disappearance in the heart of a bustling international airport. It was the 1980s, decade of Dipsticks (Dukes of Hazard) and of Yuppies. Of child harnesses.

In the moments following our frightful ordeal at London’s Heathrow International our young family labored to orient ourselves back to normalcy. Our departure gate was nearby and the call to board was still some way off.

“Ámy. Hey, come with daddy. Let’s find a donut.”

She sat opposite me at a simple booth, a warm glazed donut secure in her grasp. I took in her unassuming, cherub-like features.

Amy’s chin barely cleared the table top as she sank her teeth into the pastry – quickly modifying it to a new look. A flake of icing clung at the edge of her mouth, bobbing up and down as she chewed. The movement inspired the tip of my tongue to pursue an imaginary morsel from my own now-moistening lips.

“Angel girl”. Her attention left the donut for a second.

“Amy”, I went on, “daddy wants to talk to you a minute, OK?” I continued without pausing while she returned to her snack after studying it a moment.

“You know”. I was seeking language to connect a really young mind to the concept of vulnerability, of hidden hazards. But without instilling anxiety or fear into her wide-open emotions. How do I do this? The unspoken question was half-prayer, half-bewilderment. I had offered such cautionary messages before – in earlier times to each of our other two children. Had tried anyway. I proceeded.

A few minutes in I was winding down my second monologue to my two-year-old – a drill far too common among young parents anymore – i.e. be cautious when near strangers. . stick close to mommy and daddy, and so forth. Amy seemed to sense I was about to launch into round three. Her look into my eyes was direct. Not scowling, not smiling. I began my third introduction when a soft, polite voice inserted reprovingly. “Daddy, I already heard you the other times.”

My shoulders dropped to relax mode. I chuckled toward my precocious angel.

In America, Amy and her mother’s alliance with the security harness lasted all of three weeks. We are not sure what became of it. . . a canine’s residence, perhaps.
©2017 Jerry Lout



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