Victoria was bustled from one 3rd grade tutor to the next throughout her days. A sometimes mind-numbing blur of really smart but patient people teaching her. She only got to see her daddy, who happened to be the President of the United States, once a day for only about, say 45 minutes. Then he and she were rushed off again and didn't get to see each other until he tucked her in for bed that night. Her mom was awesome and was always there to take her from one place to the next and asked Victoria what she had learned and told her what they were doing next, even while she managed her own business while Victoria was in classes.
Why can't daddy take me to my next classes sometimes, Mom?"
"Oh hunny, he wants to. You are the most precious thing in his world."
"It doesn't feel like it."
"I wish you knew how much he was involved, hunny.
"It's just so hard to believe when I can't see it. I only get like an hour or something out of his 24 hours.
"I know it seems like that hunny. But just because you only get a little time with him doesn't mean he's not doing lots of things for you that you can't see."
Victoria was silent for a bit. "Where are we going now, mom?"
"We're going for a playdate with Henrietta."
"Oh, yay, I like her so much, mom."
Her mother smiled. "Oh yeah? What do you like about her so much?"
She always has the most interesting things she's working on. She invented a zip line for her barbies mom! It's so cool! And she's the only one of my friends that isn't afraid to hug me. She even holds my hand when she gets excited. She's just a really good friend, mom."
"I'm so glad hunny." The smile lasted a long time as she led little Victoria, in her plaid skirt and red bow, into the black sedan waiting for them.
That night Victoria snuggled up in her daddy's lap, telling him all about her day. He leaned back in his big leather chair in the oval office. When she had come to the door he told everyone to leave because he had a meeting with the most important guest of his day. "My daughter is here." Even the most skeptical, rudest reporters would soften at this and bustle out as fast as they could.
He asked about her day and gathered her up in his arms. He turned them around in the chair so they were looking out the big windows and he stroked her hair as he listened.
After a long time she quieted and said, "Daddy?"
"Why can't you be with me during the rest of the day?"
"Oh, hunny. I wish I could. But you have lots to learn from everybody else. If you were with me all day, you wouldn't be as prepared and mature and smart and grown up as you are. I've made sure your teachers love you almost as much as I do. And they are all people I really respect and I want you to learn through them."
"But I want it to be you."
"Oh, baby, they are me in a way. I've chosen them because they are the best ones to teach you what I want you to learn."
"Are you too busy for me?"
Her father was quiet for a moment. "Does it feel that way, hunny?
She started to cry and buried her face into his shirt. She nodded.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He rubbed her back. And after her crying had subsided he said, "Maybe I should show you something."
She lifted her face from his shirt and wiped her eyes. "What is it?"
Here, get up for a second. She crawled off his lap. He opened a drawer and set an iPad on his tidy desk. He turned it on and clicked on his calendar app.
"Look, see this half hour in the morning?" He clicked on one of the purple blocks of time. The box opened and he scrolled to the notes where her teacher's names were written and a line or two of notes from his meeting with them. Victoria's eyes got wide. He continued, "That's when I meet with your teachers and go over what they'll teach you that day. They report on how you did, and what they think you need to keep excelling. You are part of what keeps me going all day at this job.
"Wow, dad. You're a little OCD, aren't you? Helicopter dad!"
He laughed, a big belly laugh. "About YOU I am. At least I'm glad you finally see it that way. But it's not just about you. It's about all the little boys and girls growing up in this nation. If I can figure out how to help you learn best, someone I dearly care about, and learn what is required to make you succeed, I can be in touch with what many of my people need to be successful."
"It's just good to know you're kind of there when it doesn't seem like you're there."
"Good. Yes, hunny. And when you hear them, just know that it is almost like me that is speaking to you. And when you eat the food, remember it is almost like me cooking my very best for you because I have found the very best chef for my family.
"Antonio is really nice."
"Yeah, he's a friend from a long time ago. We should go to his restaurant again sometime." He pushed the home button on the iPad and started to open another app. "When you sleep, just know I am there so close that I can almost hear your heartbeat."
She saw the audio file from the nights before and the jagged line showing her movements and sleep patterns in the night. "That monitor? I hate that that thing is still in my room! Why can't I just sleep on a bed in your room?"
He laughed and tickled her ribs. "It's because your mom and I want you to be independent but still know we're there in case you need us."
"Okay," Victoria said, staring at the iPad.
Her dad smiled and mussed her hair. "Oh, and I should probably show you this. He clicked on the text messages app and clicked on her mother's name. And up came a series of pictures chronicling Victoria's day. Laughing with her mother over the little gummy bear baby Antonio had hidden in her cake so he could teach her about Epiphany. And another photo of her and Henrietta playing with Henrietta's chemistry set. And a couple others. "Your mom sends me pics all day. It's what keeps me going, sometimes, baby."
Victoria was tearing up again, and embarrassed for him to see it. She leaned into his chest and he wrapped his arms around her. She said, "I'm sorry daddy. I was a little angry at you."
"I forgive you, hunny. I hope you understand this now but I'll say it as clearly as I can. Just because it's not me with you where you can see me, it doesn't mean that I'm not with you, in a way. I am supplying for you, and planning for you and all those people you talk to are people I have chosen to be spokespeople for me. Just think how much richer your life is because of all those people who are in it. Even though it feels like we only get a few minutes together every day, I'm working for your good even when you can't see it."
I was taking communion today at church when I got the idea for this story. I thought about how we taste and chew the bread and wine for about 20 seconds but the nourishment is in our system, fueling us, shaping us for the whole next day.
And then I talked to a friend after church who said it had been a busy week and lately he was lucky if he got even a few minutes to pray each day. But then he told me, he was remembering that even when he doesn't talk with God consistently, he needs to remember that God is still there working on him.
And I realized that maybe God is using our experiences to speak to us, and other people to give us his love. Even though sometimes it feels like we get only a little bit of God each day, sometimes the reality is that tiny moment is a seed planted in our soul that is growing in us all the time. He is watching us and working in us, and for us, even when we're asleep.
Raw Spoon 2-3-19