I Am Your Father

We were in our bedroom, not yet ready to face the day. The boys were in their room across the hall. We could hear their conversation easily through the open doors.

Hal: “Bubba, look at this.”
Daryl: “I don’t care.”
Hal: “You can’t say ‘I don’t care’. That’s a bad word.”
Daryl: “It is not a bad word. Besides, it’s two words.”
Hal: “Well you can’t say ‘I don’t care’ to me. You don’t have your big red bouncy ball anymore.”
Daryl: “You aren’t my father or my mother. You can’t take my bouncy ball away from me.”
Hal: “Yes I can.”
Daryl: “No. You can’t.”
Hal: “I am your father.”
Daryl: “No. You aren’t.”

Then Daryl walked into our bedroom with the big red bouncy ball under his arm. “Hal told me to look at something and I said ‘I don’t care’ and he said that’s a bad word and then he took my bouncy ball and said I couldn’t have it and I told him he couldn’t do that.”

I suppressed a smile as I looked up at him from my position under the blankets, wrapped in my husband’s arms. My husband responded, “He can’t take your ball away from you.”

Satisfied, Daryl began to leave the room.

His father called to him, “Daryl?”

Daryl turned back.

“‘I don’t care’ is three words, not two.”

Daryl looked puzzled at first. Then I could see him counting in his head.

“Oh. Right.”