You’re Cute When You’re Vulnerable…

“You’re cute when you’re vulnerable” my daughter said to me. In the moment, I acknowledged how she felt with a thank you and replied, “That’s sweet Cydney” and hugged her with a smile on my face. In true Chad fashion, my automatic defense mechanism kicked in and I followed the moment with a wry remark. Despite my outward appearance, I blushed on the inside.

Cydney said this to me a little over a week ago; but her words have been on my mind ever since.

I’ve had writer’s block the past few days. For hours, I have sat in front of this very laptop and no matter how inspired I felt, I could not put words-to-page. In search of an exchange of ideas, I called my former editor, Kweli to converse about a barrage of topics in hopes one thought would spark my next 1,000 words.

At one point, I told Kweli what my daughter and my response. In the tone of a joke, she told me not to write off my feelings as “Chad being Chad” and not be so guarded. I could not help but replay several times in which a similar response I have chalked up to “Chad being Chad” have resulted in a not-so-happy woman who did not care for such a response to their feelings. I knew what I needed to do.

I walked upstairs to Cydney’s room to spend some time with her. As I sat on the edge of her bed while she was across the room, I began to move around because my back ached. My daughter asked if I was alright and I told her “My back is just aching from my workout yesterday. If your muscles don’t ache the day after a workout, you did it wrong.”

Cyd asked a question and I told her “I’m trying to get back to my back being the size it was in 2016!” She got up from her chair, sat beside me, and said “I like laying your muscles or when you have your heavy arms around me,” as she nestled under me.

In this moment, I didn’t see my daughter, I saw a little woman next to me; the way she did so reminded me of many affectionate moments I’ve had over the years as a single man.

“What do you feel when I have my arms around you? How does that make you feel?” I asked and Cydney replied “I don’t know. But it makes me feel good”

“Does it make you feel safe?” I then asked. Cydney replied, “Yes and it makes me feel protected.”

“What about it makes you feel safe and protected?” I continued. She remarked “Because you’re big and I like how it makes me feel.”

I explained the reason behind my inquiries. “I’m asking these questions to get a better understanding of you. As a man, I kind of know the reasons why; but as a kid, what you’re doing is instinct.” There is no filter to how a child displays love and I let her know this as well.

“Something else I’ve always heard from women is I am always inexplicably warm,” I said next. Cydney said “As a person or?—”

I interrupted “Definitely not as a person” and we erupted with laughter. Cydney and I are both aware if there is one thing I am not, is warm; I’m usually quite detached and use my sense of humor to keep others at bay. “No, literally” I continued, and Cydney emphatically agreed.

My daughter then asked me “Since your back hurts, would you like lay down and let me rub it?” I said “sure” and got into position.

As Cydney sat on my latissimus dorsi and dug her little fingers in, I continued to open up. “I kept thinking about what you said the other day and it has been on my mind ever since. I tend to not be so vulnerable because I am aware what may not seem like such a big deal to me, could be heavy for someone else. For example, you sitting on my back right now doesn’t feel heavy to me. But if someone your size sat on your back, this same way, it could possibly feel crushing,” I explained; she seemed to understand.

“You know, I think about these things from time to time. I have been making a better effort to show you these other sides of me, Cyd. Sometimes I think about how you’re young enough to see me go through the stages of meeting someone and all of the butterflies that come along with it. You’re now old enough in which if this were to happen, you’d see and know what these things mean, look, and feel like” I said to my nine-year-old. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, thinking “If my daughter ever walked in on me while I was on face time with a girl I’ve liked and she saw how much I smiled, she would wonder ‘Who the fuck is this guy?!’” Hell, if those who have been on the receiving end of such smiles knew how rare those are and how much my daughter would kill for me to do that to her.

Cydney paused from her masseuse duties, laid on my back, rested her head on my shoulder, and began to scratch my head; she said “That feels good, doesn’t it?” I replied “Yes.”

“What made you want to rub my back and then begin to scratch my head?” I asked. “You said your back was hurting and I wanted to make you feel good. It’s bonding.” she responded.

“This is called intimacy” I told my daughter and explained in a manner she would understand. I told her in this moment, she reminded me of her mother. “What made your mother different from everyone else was she saw me for who I really was. Even the parts of me she didn’t understand, didn’t like, or gave up on trying,” the conversation paused for a moment as we both laughed because Cydney is also well aware of what some of those annoyances are.

I continued “The moment your mother had me was when she showed me she could look past the surface and tried to understand.” Cydney replied “That’s intimacy.” She got it.

I began to replay the part of our talk where I described how she’d had not seen me court someone before. Cydney has never seen me have moments of intimacy with someone who is not a family  member or herself. This is something I should explore a little more…

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