We're on our drive to summer camp. Traffic that morning was bad. The car in front of me is slow, I mean slow, and I can tell the sucker is on his cell phone. I can't move right, I'm stuck. I get, well, mad.
Me, "Mumble, mumble, sorry "bad word" so and so."
I regret my words almost immediately. I look over at Little Bit and she's turned away as if the bloomed lavender Crepe Myrtles were the most important objects in here little life. I felt bad.
We move along at a silent snails pace for a few more minutes.
Then I say, "Sorry, Honey."
"It's okay, Papa, he can't help it." I glance over with one of those questioning looks we all give children. She continues, "He's only a Democrat."
Silence. Then, "Little Bit."
"Why did you call him that?" She's still looking out the window, hasn't moved.
Her, "Papa, I love you more than orange juice," in a rapid little voice, quick.
My heart broke. She now thinks she's in trouble for something I said and she feels her response has placed the blame on herself.
This is all my fault and it began many months ago. It's all due to my big mouth and my impatience with others. Allow me to explain, please.
We were driving down a busy city street, and like above, a driver had cut me off. Little Bit was with me, of course, and without thinking I yelled, "Damn Democrat." She heard and remembered and had seen the person in the car.
Thirty minutes later we're standing in a checkout line at our local Publix grocery store. We're second in line. The lady in front of us is swiping one plastic card after another. Each swipe the cashier would say, "Sorry, it's rejected."
I began to mumble. Little Bit looks up at me, takes my hand and in a crystal clear very loud voice said, "It's okay, Papa, she's just a Democrat."
Now, I'm a fairly large man, I fear no human. I have a great deal of respect for others but I know my limitations and have long outgrown the need to pick fights, so when I say I wish I had had a place to hide at that moment, I mean it.
If looks could kill they would have that day. Yet, it was my fault.
Back to the ride.
I turn to Little Bit after she said she loved me more than orange juice and reached over and took her hand. Said, "Sweet heart, Papa isn't mad at you. It's okay. Please look at me." She looked over and I continued, "I love you, you're not in trouble. Papa is mad at himself and I'm sorry I said those words. Do you understand?"
Silence. We're close to her school and I feel the need to heal my habit and heal her hurt feelings.
In a small voice, "What, Papa."
"Sometimes I use words I shouldn't. Words that can hurt other people's feelings and I will try real hard not to say those words again." She's locked her little brown eyes on mine. "Please, Honey, don't repeat bad words you hear Papa use, okay."
I pull into the driveway. She sips the last of her morning orange juice. Then, "Okay, Papa, I won't."
I helped her from my truck and she reaches for my hand, "I still love you more than orange juice, how much do you love me?"
"More than the whole world, Little Bit."
A kiss and she's gone.