Yesterday Sarah and Keana were still napping in the back bedroom, and Maia was playing in the kitchen while I worked at the table. After a good amount of time with a bowl full of bubbles, washing her plastic puppies and Keana’s princesses, she came up to me and said, “I want a cookie Papa.” I thought for a moment and decided against the usual reply. “Okay,” I said with a shrug. “How about some milk too?” to which she replied, squealing, “Yaaaay!” Anyway, like Snow White being awakened by a magic kiss, so too was Keana lured from what I thought was a dead-sleep, by the word “cookie”. I heard footsteps down the hall and Keana entered saying, “I want one too!”. So I set the girls up on the bench at the table, and they silently enjoyed their rare, special afternoon treat. As I continued to work, I could hear their little crunchings, followed by slurping of milk, and could feel the contentment in the room. In fact Keana was content to just count her blessings, but Maia…not so much. “Another cookie, Papa?” she asked. Keana looks up excitedly quiet with questioning eyes. I could just hear her mind saying, “No! She did it! Maia actually asked for another cookie. Unexpected, but maybe he’ll do it? Two cookies!!!??? I’m going to lose my MIND!” I looked at Maia’s chocolate chip covered mouth and just couldn’t resist. “Okay,” I said with a shrug. Both girls screamed with excitement.

It hadn’t been ten minutes after they finished their unprecedented afternoon snack when Maia says, “Petziles?” I say, “What’s that?”. She repeats louder, “PETZILES!” and I say, “Ohhhh, pretzels?” and she says, “NOOOOO, PETZICLES!” and I say, “Ohhhh, popsicles?” and she says, “Yeah! Yeah! POPSICLES!” This time I simply reply, “Nooo, no popsicles. You just had a special treat.” and Maia says, “Ohhh” with the “o” trailing down sadly in a disappointed way. She let’s it go for a minute then approaches Keana. “Sissy, popsicle?” and Keana says, “No Maia, we can’t have them now.” Maia walks over to the freezer and yanks on the handle futily. Keana goes over and says, “Oh, you want to just see them? They’re in there.” and she opens the freezer for Maia. Maia pulls out the popsicle and goes to work on the plastic wrapper. I’m watching the whole thing, just sitting there, like a naturalist observing animals in the wild, and I’m thinking, “If any two-year-old can get that wrapper open, it’s Maia.” I look at Keana and I can almost hear her thinking, “She did it! She couldn’t open the freezer, I did that, but I wouldn’t have gone against Papa’s wishes so blatantly after already receiving such a historic afternoon snack as TWO CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! But if any kid can open that popsicle, it’s Maia, and I’m going to just sit back and wait patiently for Papa to cave in again.”

Rip. Popsicle is free. Keana and Maia look up at me quietly excited, waiting to see how I respond.

“Okay,” I say with a shrug. I set to work dividing it equally into bowls to minimize the sticky that’s bound to get everywhere. Just then, Sarah walks into the kitchen and gives me that knowing smile. I can almost hear her thinking, “Oh Papa. You’re such a softy.” And she didn’t’ even know about the cookies yet.

Truth is, I wasn’t exactly soft. I mean, I made a conscious decision not to say “no”, not because I couldn’t, but because I figured “what the hell?”. That’s not soft, right?