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“Daddy! It’s the first day of school! WAKE UP!”
The cries of an 8 year old girl rattled through the small bedroom, as she climbed on top of her father and shook him mercilessly. With the sheets covering him from head to toe, her father grumbled a bit and slowly began to wake up.
“Daddy, you promised that you’d wake up early today so you can take me to school,” she whined, sitting on her father’s stomach.
“Kris, it’s 6 am,” he muttered. “You don’t have school for another 2 hours.”
“But daddy…” she pouted. “It’s the first day of school, we have to go early today so we can meet my teacher!”
“Oh no!” he openly cried, knowing his dear bed will soon be further from him than he expected.
“C’mon daddy,” Kris rolled her eyes at her fathers childish behavior. She stopped shaking him and gave her father a hug. “What would you rather do; go back to sleep or take your cute, lovable and totally huggable daughter to school?”
She wouldn’t like his answer.
“I’d rather take my cute, lovable and totally huggable daughter to bed with me,” he answered.
Plopping her on to the bed, Joe heaved a deep sigh and wrapped his arms around Kris so she would stay put to wait out the next hour or so before they headed over to the school.
“Hi mommy,” Kris waved over to her mother.
“Kris?” Ariel groggily asked. “What are you doing? Aren’t you supposed to be getting ready for school?”
“Daddy said it was too early and wanted to go to sleep. So lazy,” she said, shaking her head.
He knew that tone.
“Give me an hour and I’ll be bright and beaming,” he was quick to answer, knowing what Ariel would say.
“In an hour I’ll be just as sleepy as you if I stay in bed,” Kris joked, poking at her father, whom in turn poked her back.
“Kris, stop kicking,” her mother winced as the ruckus from Joe and Kris continued.
“Daddy’s tickling me,” Kris laughed.
“Five more minutes of sleep and I’ll be bright and beaming.”
Lifting up the covers off his face, Kris looked at her father’s face, disappointed and sad. Scratching his head fiercely, Joe gave in.
“Alright, alright, I’m up,” he sighed as the sleep still in his eyes clasped on. “Go get changed.”
Glee quickly overcame her pouting, and Kris gently hugged her father and gave him a kiss before screaming and hollering “I’m going to school!!”
“Ugh,” her father yawned, sitting up.
“You looked directly at her, didn’t you?” his wife inaudibly asked as she comfortably lied in bed.
“Yes, Ariel,” he monotonously answered.
“Have a nice day, Joe,” she secretly smiled, mocking him.
So, like a good, sleep-deprived, father, Joe got up, brushed his teeth and kissed his sleeping wife on the cheek before heading over to the kitchen to fix Kris her breakfast. Kris was already waiting for him with a knife and a fork at hand.
“So what are you making for me today; let me remind you it’s the first day of school, so I need all the nutrition I can get,” she beamed.
“…cereal,” he answered, much like any cafeteria worker would. “Cheerios; your favorite. With orange juice on the side. Anything else I can get for you today?”
“Nope,” she said, in between chomps.
For Kris, the ride to school was just as fun as getting up. Same could be said for Joe. Kris was eagerly waiting to see all her classmates again and create much more havoc. The car stopped in front of the school and Kris could already see Robbie and his mother talking to his knew teacher. As Joe and Kris made there way towards the building, they checked where Kris’ knew class was and made their way to the classroom where they were confronted by a small, old and frail woman.
“Well hello there, who might this young lady be?” she asked.
“This is Kris,” Joe answered.
“Well hi Kris! I’m Mrs. Caterpillar. I’ll be your teacher this year!”
Suddenly Kris froze; her lips drooped and her brows furrowed deep. A quick shudder washed over her body like a stiff breeze. Joe unexpectedly found Kris slowly backing away from her new teacher and shyly hiding behind her father.
“She just a little shy.” Now there is something he never thought he’d say. “Kris, why don’t you and your new teacher get to know each other better?”
Kris shook her head and wrapped her arms around his waist, as she mumbled something inaudible.
“Oh, it’s ok to be shy, Kris,” Mrs. Caterpillar said. “Well, I’ve got other kids to meet, I’ll talk to later, right Kris?”
“mmmm” she mumbled.
As her teacher walked away, Joe tried to loosen his daughter’s grip but she wouldn’t let go.
“Kris, is everything alright?” Joe asked, as he could clearly see the fear in her trembling hands.
Pulling her father aside, she gave him a tight grapple. “I can’t do this.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Mrs. Caterpillar? Are you serious! Everybody knows I’m afraid of caterpillars!” she screeched. “This is a sign daddy; I should be afraid!”
Kneeling down slightly, Joe took his daughter’s trembling hands and comforted her.
“Don’t be silly, you’ll be just fine. It’s just a name, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Placing both hands on her father face, Kris scolded, “names are everything to me! Have you not been paying attention?”
“Honey,” he calmly smoothed her ruffled shirt.
“Don’t you get it daddy?” she asked. “She’s all part of the big conspiracy!”
“What conspiracy?” he laughed. “Honey, look at me. You’ve done so many dangerous things in your short little life and you’re telling me that you’re afraid of a tiny harmless, little caterpillar.”
“Caterpillar??? WHERE!” she screamed. “Get it off me, get it off.”
“Kris,” he sighed, rolling his eyes.
“It’s on me, isn’t it? I feel like they’re on me,” she squealed and shivered. “Ew!”
Joe finally laughed at her silly antics.
“Kris, you know for someone who’s afraid of caterpillars, you remind me a lot of a small little caterpillar,” Joe smirked.
“You’re new at this whole “daddy” thing, I forgot,” Kris shook her head helplessly.
“Hey,” he lowered his voice. “It’s true. Caterpillars are far misunderstood creatures; they might not do much but they’re still young and small.”
“They’re disgusting!” she winced.
“And when they’re older,” he ignored her little outburst to continue. “Some might turn into beautiful butterflies. You like butterflies right?”
“…that is true,” she thought. “And I do like butterflies. Mommy reminds me of a butterfly.”
“So, maybe you should wait a little longer till you judge Mrs. Caterpillar. She might turn into a butterfly,” he smiled.
Kris looked at her teacher again and cringed. For goodness sakes, the woman was almost half dust. “Wouldn’t she be dead by the time she turns into a butterfly?”
“Kris!” Joe shook her a bit.
“Alright, I’ll give it a try,” she pouted. “But don’t leave me without giving me a hug.”
“C’mon, squirt,” he teased before letting her body encompass around him in a warm and longing clasp.
“mm, I want to go to sleep now,” she groggily said, getting a bit too comfortable on her father’s shoulder.
“I told you we should have left later,” he poked at her.
Giving her a small kiss on the cheek, Joe patted Kris on the head and headed back home. For such a simple thing as sending a kid to school, it sure was a long journey towards this kind of prosperity.
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