words: stoney stamper
images:courtesy april stamper
“Stoney, when was the pocket watch invented?” I shake my head, being brought back into the present with this random question, one of hundreds that I’ll undoubtedly be asked this day. I had been daydreaming before I heard the question. This daydreaming happens fairly often. This time, I was on a hammock, on some remote beach, but there was something peculiar about the scene. First of all, I was alone. That never happens. Second, it was quiet. And you’re more likely to hit the Power Ball than you are to have any silence in my loud group of five.
When I was a bachelor, before I said “I do” to April and her two daughters, Abby and Emma, my home was meticulously cared for, with a place for everything, and everything in its place. Nothing was ever lost, because everything was where it was supposed to be. But my favorite part of living alone was the silence. The absence of noise. The silent moments undisturbed by the sounds of the Bubble Guppies or Doc McStuffins. Now, there’s always talking, screaming, crying, tattling, gossiping, laughing, griping. No matter what, there is always something coming out my girls’ mouths. And to be honest, I think I handle it pretty well.
Now don’t get me wrong, I can completely go off the tracks of the crazy train from time to time. But for the most part, I handle their constant buzzing in the background as nothing more than an occasional nuisance. When the girls talk directly to me, they may have to repeat it, because I likely wasn’t listening the first time.
When April and I married five years ago, Emma was a tiny seven-year-old blonde with sparkling blue eyes, and a curious nature. When we first met, she wanted to know everything about me. “Stoney, where are you from?” “Stoney, what kind of truck do you drive?” “Stoney, do you have a nice house? Is it two-stories?” “Stoney, do you have a dog?” The questions from this little girl were endless. I immediately loved her for liking me so much, but I truly was not, and could not have been, prepared for the number of questions that she asked.
The first few times I saw the girls, Emma continued asking one question after another. “Stoney, do you like jalapeños?” “Stoney, why is your house always so clean?” “Stoney, can I play with your guitar?” The stream of questions felt as if they were being shot out of an AK-47, the next one was right on the tail of the one that had just hit you.
One of the more memorable questions was after April and I had been dating a while. We were on the couch watching TV, when Emma dropped this bomb. “Stoney, are you dating anyone other than Mom? Are you gonna be our dad?” Just as calm as she could be, she had just rocked my world. I began to stammer. The correct answer was “No, I’m not dating anyone other than your mother, and oh my GOSH, I want to be your dad.” But my nerves had gotten to me, and I stumbled trying to answer the question while April laughingly watched along. When I was finished, I answered, and while it may not have been the most eloquent answer I’ve ever given, it was definitely one of the more memorable. And it was the truth. I wanted to be their dad. Oh, and also I wasn’t two-timing their mom.
Time has moved on. We’ve added another daughter to the mix, Gracee June, and she turned four in March. Our oldest daughter Abby has finally decided that she likes me too, which only adds more questions to the mix. We’ve sure come a long way, but one thing hasn’t changed. The questions are just as prevalent today as they ever were. Questions about horses and tennis shoes and go-karts and show pigs, and don’t even get me started on the homework questions that Emma has about math. Those math questions could maybe break up happy families.
At this point, I’m certain that they’ll never ever end, but I think I’m okay with that. April once asked Emma, “Why do you always ask him questions like that?” Emma replied with full confidence, “Because, Mom, Stoney knows everything.” After hearing that, there’s never a question I won’t answer for her. Once again, I’m brought back to reality by her question. “When was the pocket watch invented?” With a quick Google search on my phone, I say nonchalantly, “It was invented in 1524.” Emma says “See? He knows everything.” Well, maybe with a little help from the Internet.
As I’ve sat here writing this, my daughters have each come by and asked me a question. I answered each of them thoroughly, and with a smile on my face. Because I know that someday, their mama and I are going to be alone in this house. We’ll finally have that silence that I used to crave. And what I expect that we’ll find is, we had exactly what we wanted all along. And it certainly wasn’t silence.
is the author of the popular parenting blog, The Daddy Diaries. He and his wife April have three daughters: Abby, Emma and Gracee. Originally from northeast Oklahoma, the Stampers now live in Tyler, Texas. For your daily dose of The Daddy Diaries, visit Stoney on Facebook or on his website, thedaddydiaries.net.