Sienna And The Frightening Fly

Twas the first day of May and Elaine and my mother sat casually feeding Sienna eggplant rollatini in a pizzeria down the block form our apartment when out of nowhere the scariest creature on the planet zoomed by Sienna’s head. No I’m not talking about a rat or a killer bee or a king cobra. No great white shark decided to make a side trip from the ocean to have a slice of pizza. I’m not even talking about that insidious varmint known as Elmo. I’m referring to an ordinary housefly.

It’s amazing what strikes fear into the hearts of toddlers. According to eyewitnesses (Elaine and my mom), Sienna screeched and jumped into Elaine’s lap, clinging to her neck as if it were the last life preserver on the sinking Titanic, and buried her face on her mommy’s shoulder when the fly first buzzed her head.

“It’s just a fly, honey,” Mommy allegedly said. “It’s gone. Nothing to worry about. No more fly.”

Reports say it took some time for Sienna to calm down and release her mommy from that death grip.

“No fly,” said Sienna. “No fly.”

“That’s right,” echoed Elaine. “No fly.”

Then that monstrous beast streaked across the room and Sienna was back in Mommy’s lap, tears streaming, knuckles turning so white as she gripped Elaine that Mommy began to turn blue. Time and again a terrified Sienna would calm down and then hurl herself at Elaine when that fly flew overhead. Even when they reached the safety of the apartment Sienna would occasionally ask to be held while shaking her little head and assuring herself: “No fly. No fly.” This was something I witnessed when I got home and Elaine made me aware of the evening’s events making sure to always spell F-L-Y so as not to upset out daughter. I watched as Sienna peeked her head around the corner, looked at my wife for comfort, asked to be picked up and said, “No fly. No fly.”

When night-night came, Sienna seemed okay. It was Elaine’s night to put her down and our daughter laughed and played under fluorescent blue stars until my wife told her to climb into bed. She fell asleep, but apparently that devilish fly haunted Sienna’s dreams. As we sat on the couch listening over the baby monitor we heard our daughter whimper and then cry out as if a serial killer were after her in her sleep: “Help! Stop! Mommy! Daddy!”

Elaine went in first. She picked a drowsy Sienna up, held her to her chest, sat down in the rocking chair and rocked. But the little girl screamed and squirmed, screamed and squirmed. I went into the darkened bedroom and asked my little girl if she’d like to lie down on the floor with Mommy and Daddy.


I don’t know if she was awake or asleep when she answered, but it doesn’t matter. The three of us lay on the floor, Sienna between Elaine and myself. She sucked her thumb. She held her blanket. She fidgeted and fussed. Elaine and I ran our fingers through her hair and stole glances at each other. Finally I decided this was a night Sienna needed us, her parents, even more than ever. She needed to feel safe. We brought Sienna to our bedroom, placed her head on a pillow, shut off the light and got into bed. It was barely 11 pm so I had to take half a melatonin otherwise I would have lay there staring into the blackness.

I asked Sienna if she’d like me to sing “Rainbow Connection” which happens to be her current favorite song (I’m so proud!). She said yes and I dutifully complied, the words flowing over her in the darkness, lulling her to sleep. Little snores escaped her tiny nose. In her sleep she slipped across the pillow and landed with her face in my back. And I loved it. I loved being there for my daughter even if it meant having barely enough room to keep myself on the bed. I lay there feeling warm and important. I lay there feeling like vital father.

It wasn’t an easy night. Fitful sleep for all of us. Sienna periodically moaning, asking for help as that ghastly fly plagued her dreams, Elaine and I waking up at each whimper. According to Elaine, when she got up for work at 5 am, she had to leave a mewling and suffering little girl filling her with heartbreak. By the time Sienna and I awoke around 8 am, all was well with the world, both the actual fly and its nighttime apparition gone from our toddler’s mind. Elaine’s mom came over and she and Sienna had a grand time going for a walk and picking dandelions as Daddy tried to do some work – actually write a blog for the first time in forever as Elsa and Anna say in Frozen which we’ve now watched at least 10 times.

Sienna’s napping now and it’s peaceful. No bad dreams. No flies. The previous night is over but it left me with so many lessons and feelings.

One lesson is obvious: it’s way too early to introduce Sienna to Brundlefly.

The other lesson is that caring for my terrified little girl gave me sense of joy and love I haven’t felt in at least a month due to a depression relapse.

Who knew an ordinary fly could do so much?

What simple things have frightened your little ones so? How did comforting them make you feel?

An Amazing Response To A Bully

I’ve written about bullying for a long time. How I was bullied by so many people for much of my life. How my father’s bias against overweight people in general and his sarcastic comments in specific (“You’re gonna be as big as a house” or “Overweight people can’t be beautiful” despite both his wife and son being on the heavy side) helped prevent any sense of my own self-worth from forming. I also want to repeat that my father is NO LONGER that person and each time I bring up things like this, it makes both of us feel extraordinarily guilty, but it’s important information for parents to know and for people to have in order to understand the near-40-year-old I’ve become.

I’m talking about it today because my wife showed me an incredible video. I don’t know how long it’s been around, but I suggest everyone watch it and learn from it. The video is an editorial response by a journalist to a letter she’d received remarking about her weight and how as a person in the public eye, she needs to do a better job of promoting a healthier lifestyle, especially for girls.

As the father of a 20-month-old girl, I will be sure to bookmark this video and show it to her when she’s ready to understand it, both to prevent her from ever becoming a bully and to understand how to respond to a bully.

And as I said, every parent should watch it. I urge you to watch this amazing video

The Tragic Loss of Adrian Peterson’s 2-Year-Old Son

Just a few minutes ago I learned that Adrian Peterson’s 2-year-old son has died from head trauma – non-accidental head trauma – injuries allegedly caused by domestic abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend in his mother’s boyfriend’s home. It didn’t matter that Adrian Peterson is the star running back for the Minnesota Vikings. It didn’t matter that Peterson takes home millions of dollars, nearly broke the single season rushing record last season, and won the league’s MVP. Despite all his strength and skill and money, Peterson couldn’t save his boy from the violent hands of one person, a trusted person (at least by the boy’s mother) though the man had had domestic abuse issues in the past. The news hit me like a ‘roided up linebacker.


Adrian Peterson lost his son today due to alleged physical abuse by the child’s mother’s boyfriend.

It’s been said that the loss of a child is the worst pain a person can feel. It’s something I nearly experienced a few weeks ago during Sienna’s choking episode, something I hope to never, ever have to deal with. I can’t imagine what Peterson’s going through right now. His son was only six months older than Sienna, the most precious thing in my life aside from Elaine. How can someone physically assault a child? It’s something I’ll never understand. I can barely slap Sienna’s hand when she’s in a troublemaking mood without feeling terrible about myself.

The news of Peterson’s loss also reminded one of the reasons why I’m a stay-at-home dad – both Elaine and I know that our daughter’s in safe hands. Soon enough that time will pass. Sienna, like most kids, will be off to school and could become prey to a violent or sexually depraved teacher or neighbor or fellow student or untrustworthy family member (thankfully I don’t have any of those to my knowledge) or complete stranger. Soon enough I won’t be able to protect her as well as I can now. For all I know she might one day walk into a store and encounter a supposedly friendly owner who turns out to be a sexual predator similar to that “Diff’rent Strokes” episode when Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Dudley (Shavar Ross) went into that infamous bike shop. And don’t even mention social network stalking. I can’t fathom that right now. I can’t fathom any of this. Peterson’s son was just 2 years old and he was allegedly beaten to death by someone he probably trusted. 2 years old. And despite being exceedingly wealthy and celebrated, his father could do nothing but receive the news no parent wants to hear.

I’ve never felt luckier to be a stay-at-home dad than I do right now. My heart bleeds for Adrian Peterson and his family.