WARNING!!! DO NOT OPEN THIS DRAWER UNLESS YOU ARE MOMMY. ANYONE WHO OPENS THIS DRAWER WHO IS NOT MOMMY WILL BE IN TROUBLE!!!
Taped to the top left drawer of my daughter’s dresser. Saw it last night when I checked to make sure she was sleeping. Written in yellow highlighter, in all caps, and with a total of six exclamation points.
It seemed her point was clear enough. Do not open. Unless you’re Mommy. Off limits to both her father and her little brother. The latter was understandable—big sisters do not want their little brothers going through their things. But the latter was me, and my daughter was not in the habit of hiding things from her daddy.
So I was faced with a conundrum that felt more deep and profound than to merely look or not. It was more than that. It was to invade my child’s privacy or make sure she didn’t have anything in her drawer she wasn’t supposed to. Not likely (not likely at all, really), since she’s never been one to do something she shouldn’t. But still, it ate at me.
I would like to say here that I did not look then. I left the note untouched, tucked the blankets around my little girl, and went to bed. I tossed. I turned. I thought and wondered.
Given what the piece of paper said, I felt sure my wife knew what was in my daughter’s dresser drawer. She was asleep, though. I couldn’t wake her. That doesn’t mean my conscience prohibited it—by then I’d realized I would never be able to get to sleep until I knew, and by then I’d convinced myself whatever my daughter was hiding had to be important—but that I literally could not wake her. I shook her and called her name and kicked her under the covers.
My wife didn’t move. Teachers are often tired.
Which meant there was only one thing left to do.
So I got out of bed. Walked from our room into my daughter’s, checked to make sure she was still asleep, and ignored the sign on her dresser drawer.
The small lamp on her nightstand offered just enough light to turn black to shadow. I grabbed the first thing I felt, turned around, and held it up to the light.
A sock. Tried again. Another sock.
I rifled through what I could, looking for…well, I didn’t know what I was looking for. Something other than socks, I guess. I pulled out T shirts, old birthday cards, some chapstick, and a misplaced Barbie.
The something stuffed on the bottom in the back of the drawer felt like neither sock nor T shirt. I pulled it out, turned, held it up to the light, and nearly fell down.
Sweet fancy Moses, Holy Mother of God, Matthew Mark Luke and John, it was a bra.
For my daughter. My nine-year-old daughter.
I dropped it. Thankfully, it was little more than a sliver of cotton that weighed all of three ounces. It made no sound on the carpet. I stood there with it in front of me, leering at me, taunting, saying, “Ha! Didn’t expect that, did you?” to me. I looked from It to her, the little girl sleeping in the bed.
I wondered what had happened and how it had happened.
Sometime—recently or not, though I hoped it had been moments and not months—a season had changed in my daughter’s life. We gauge our passing through this life by years. Seasons would be better. Because sometimes we languish in inner winters, sometimes we burst forth to a new springlife, sometimes we rest in the sunshine, and sometimes we fall.
Years do not matter. Seasons do.
It was now springtime for my daughter. I prayed that didn’t mean I was to suffer winter.
I picked up the bra and settled it back into the drawer, mindful to next time pay heed to the warnings she posted. I gathered the covers tight around her. She opened sleepy eyes and smiled at my sight.
“Hey Daddy,” she said.
“What are you doing?”
“Checking on you.”
She smiled again. “I like it when you check on me.”
I kissed her head and said, “I’ll always check on you.”
And I will. No matter the season.