“Jeez. Does every single one of these come with a whole cup of sugar?” I muttered, looking at the labels on the jars of spaghetti sauce while Little Miss rocked on her petite green customer-in-training shopping cart.

“Sugar, sugar, sugar.”



“You’re just like daddy,” she said. I paused, holding the one jar of sauce I’d found that wasn’t essentially tomato-based pie filling.

“You mean because I keep going on about sugar?”

“No. You’re nice to me and you take care of me and you talk to me like daddy.”

“Well, that’s easy, hon, because you’re smart and amazing and fun as all get-out!”

“But you always help me and play with me like daddy does. Why do you do that?”

“Well, your daddy does that because he’s smart and amazing and he loves you like crazy. That’s what daddies do, just like mommies, and step-parents, and aunts and uncles, and anyone else who sees you for how rare and special you are.”

“But…but…why do you help me and take care of me?”

“Because you’re fantastic and amazing and you make me very, very happy. And you can always, always call on me whenever you need anything I can give you.”

“Because you love me like crazy?”

My heart lodged in my throat. What a strange, complicated, unexpected, and expansive year it’s been.

“Yes indeed, sweet pea.”

“Can we get Fruit Roll-Ups?”

“No, alas. Such is the nature of my concern for your wellbeing that I feel compelled to curtail your access to industrial quantities of sugar.”

The woman picking through alfredo sauces paused, and looked at me as if to ask why I’m being so ornately verbose in my conversation with such a young child, but it is never too soon to share the love of a language that nourishes me. I merely smile as if to convey that I am in conversation with a mind that hears every detail, even if she sometimes takes a while to process and analyze.

“Cur-what? But they’re good. Pleeeeeease?

“Darlin’, we are going to make an apple crisp for dessert tonight that is so sublimely sweet and nuanced in its subtlety that it will at least momentarily displace the appeal of Fruit Roll-Ups in the catalogue of your earthly desires.”

“I don’t think so. Fruit Roll-Ups are very very very good.”

“You’ll see, sweet pea.”

Like crazy.

©2017 Joe Belknap Wall