Footnotes: Thoughts from the margins of a mom’s life

“I really want you,” says my daughter to me. “You can work on the computer with me on your lap.” She nuzzles her face in my neck, wrapping her arms tightly around me. And then she decides to turn around. “I need to see what you’re doing, Mama!” she says, shifting her weight awkwardly, “I need to see the computer!” So now, having settled herself again, she watches as the words fill the screen, as my hands move quickly over the keyboard. I’m writing, though she doesn’t know it, about her. “Keep pushing!” she says, urging me to keep moving my hands across the buttons, “Push fast, Tweak!”

Last summer our family went on a weeklong vacation to a lake. After two days, Caroline (age 3 ½) decided to give everyone in the family a nickname. My nickname, culled from one of her favorite television shows, was to be Tweak. And her name, she decided, was to be Dashy. The summer trip is long gone and the nicknames seem to be fading for others in the family. (Which is good because my husband was eager to lose “Captain Barnacles” – although I personally thought this name was especially fitting given that he’d served for years in the Army). Tweak and Dashy, though, have remained. “Where’s my Tweaky?!” Caroline, I mean Dashy, will shriek from the bottom of the stairs. “I need you, Tweak!” Sometimes at night, when I’m done singing “Old McDonald” for the umpteenth time, she’ll pull my head down close to her and put a hand on my cheek. “Dashy loves you, Tweak,” she whispers.

And Dashy, as a name, seems to suit the girl. She races, feet moving quickly, hair flying in different directions (unlike the show’s counterpart, whose hair is neatly pulled into a clip). She’s a girl in motion, a fun little sprite. Tweak and Dashy are not best friends on the show, but how glad I am that for us, the bond runs deep. I am the Tweak to my daughter’s Dashy. “I really want you,” she says to me today, a million times a day it seems. You know what, little Dashy? I really want you, too.


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