When I drive her to school she reads to me in her little lilting voice. This morning it was Strawberry Shortcake. My mind was on the marshlands of the river; I watch for hawks, take in the cloud formations, dream of a day off.
I refocus on my task and glance over at her. I smile, kinda confused, and, "What do you mean, Sweetheart, I don't cheat."
"You are now 'cause you're at four five."
Guess I put on a face not unlike a dog with a face full of quills. Little Bit laughed.
She reads to me every morning from her stash of library books. Yesterday it was Barbie, tomorrow, well, who knows. Either way I listen and marvel at how quickly she has learned. She has a beautiful voice and tends to finish each word on a high note; distinctive and pretty. Objective, aren't I.
I asked her what she meant by four five. Her, "Papa, you're cheating 'cause the sign says four zero."
I was over, but not by much. "Honey, Papa isn't cheating. I just fudge a little."
She puts her book away, zips her backpack, and turns from me and takes in the scenery. This is a sure sign she's angry with me.
I brake for a traffic light. "Little Bit."
Again, "Little Bit."
"Papa, you cheat and you always tell me not to cheat and Nana tells me not to cheat," Long breath, "And isn't cheating like telling a lie?"
"Yes, Little Bit, when you cheat it is like telling a lie. But, Papa isn't cheating. I'm just pacing the traffic."
She doesn't buy it. She turns in her seat and gives me her 'look.' Then, "Papa, it's wrong. My teacher told us we should always obey the laws. The sign says four zero and you go way fast." (verbatim)
She has me. I'm chastised. Picture me applying my brakes....
A few minutes later over breakfast she's smiling and happy while kicking butt on a wall mounted video game at 'Ole MacDonald's. Her smile lights my life.
She later forgave me for doing forty five. Tomorrow I shall be very careful.