by Roger Porter
I had to leave work early that day in order to pick up my two year old daughter Shasee from daycare. At the time I was teaching at a non profit organization in Richmond, CA. I started working there as a part time tutor my junior year in college, and once I finished I was promoted to a full time position. I was young, committed to the kids, and had earned a fair amount of respect at the job, therefore it was OK for me to leave early every now and then.
“Alright then Mr. Porter,” a 10th grade student I worked with told me as I opened the door to leave.
“Peace,” I replied as I walked slowly to the parking lot while checking my cell phone to see who called me.
I thought about my daughter while stuck in traffic on highway 80. She hated her daycare. On the mornings when I would have to take her she would cry from the time I strapped her in her car seat to the time I rang Mrs. Carrie’s doorbell. Luckily for me the daycare was only two blocks away from our house.
I kind of felt her though. I mean it was unfortunate that I had to put her in childcare at such a young age, especially when I only saw her every other week, but I had to work every weekday. I couldn’t quit and I couldn’t rearrange my schedule so that was that.
As I pulled into my driveway and stepped out of my car I saw one of my friends from Junior High School driving in an old Buick with his stereo up full blast.
“Rog,” he yelled as he smashed by!
“Ayyyy,” I replied rather delayed and not sure that he heard me!
As I stepped into the living room of my house I saw a puzzle with big colorful letters that read KINSHASA. It was something my mother bought so that my daughter could learn how to spell her full name, since she had already learned how to spell Shasee, the nickname that everyone called her.
I changed clothes quickly, wrote a check for thirty dollars to pay Mrs. Carrie, sent approximately two text messages and began walking around the corner to pick up my daughter. As I approached the block that her daycare was on I received a text. I read it as I walked briskly down the Avenue. It was sent by a young lady I was dating and it made me smile.
When I looked up I could see about ten little toddler to preschool age children playing in front of Mrs. Carries daycare but I couldn’t see my daughter. They were pushing each other in toy cars and playing with a bright red bouncing ball. There was one kid in particular whose eyes were transfixed on me as I walked toward him.
This kid had to be about four years old with a honey colored complexion. He wore his hair in long cornrows that I’m sure his mother had allowed to grow since birth. He whispered to the other children and then he began to slowly walk toward me.
I looked down at him and he looked up to me with very large light brown eyes.
“Are you Shasee’s dad,” he asked me in a wondrously curious tone?
Shasee’s dad? Did this kid really just refer to me as Shasee’s dad? My name is Rog I wanted to tell him and I grew up in this neighborhood. As a matter of fact I probably went to school with your mother. I am Roger Porter I played football for the Oakland Dynamites and the Skyline Titans. I ran track for the West Side Kickers and got into college. I even graduated from college with a degree in English and still work and live in the hood. I am Mr. Porter. I teach kids how to appreciate books and use writing as form of therapeutic release. Shasee’s dad; was this little bastard serious? I looked around at all the little children at play and realized that none of my accomplishments would ever matter to them. To them I was only Shasee’s dad.
I was twenty four years old man stopped dead in my tracks by a little boy twenty years my junior. To make matters worse he maintained eye contact with me so I felt that I couldn’t simply walk away without answering him. Not that I was ashamed of the title I just wasn’t really aware of it so it kind of startled me. The term Shasee’s dad meant that my little two year old had developed her own identity and had made friends to compliment her little smart mouthed personality—which I was oh so aware of. My daughter was now her own little person and I was merely her dad. I was simply the old guy that dropped her off, picked her up, and bought all of her clothes.
It was shocking to me that after all of my success in beating the odds I was being identified through a two year old. It was all happening too fast, I wasn’t sure that I was ready. But then I had to be because the time had come. I no longer had a baby who had to be around her family all the time and cried in the middle of the night if she felt around the bed and no one was there, but rather I had a big girl who had just taken her first steps toward independence.
“Yeah I’m Shasee’s dad,’ I told him ‘could you go get her for me please?”
That little bastard.