“Remember, do we touch anything without asking?”

“Noooo.” lazes out of A.’s mouth, having been asked the same question a few fifty times. Moments later H. chirps “Nope”. She ‘spaces out’ as much as I do, and had no idea what she just said ‘nope’ to.

I go for redundancy. “What do we do when we want to touch something?”

A. replies “Dad” with a sass that only a five-year old can have; it’s more of a mimicked and developing sass, her sass doesn’t have knowledge and understanding behind it, yet. “…we ask you if we can”

I look at H., she blinks and stares at me, “What?” Blink. Blink. Good enough.

We walk into our favorite Thrift Store, which is teeming with choice items this time of year. I had a mission. I was looking for cleats to play Ultimate Frisbee in. We went to the sporting goods section, and out of the five pairs of cleats on the rack, two are my size – score. I bend, twist, and look them over with care. Both pairs were in about the same condition, I make a choice, talk A. out of a baseball helmet “But Dad, you are working on pitching and have hit me a few times” Her understanding and awareness of the world is really holding a mirror to my reality; I can’t pitch a ball for anything.

On the way out I see an old globe on a stand and grab it, an Xbox, not sure why, but I grab it, and then, a stack of three boxes, the top box is open and has records in it. I casually flip through them, while the girls look at VHS tapes, and they appeal to me; I like some of the musicians, they appear in excellent shape, and two of the boxes are taped shut – like a pack of baseball cards, you never know what’s inside, and that excites me.

I get a bit upset at A. for something H. did while I was lost in a James Brown cover, shouldn’t she have been watching her sister? I then position the girls in front of the boxes, tell them not to move, and look for an employee to price the items for me. The girls didn’t move, much, but when I got back H. was hitting A. I asked A. what she did; she said “Nothing Dad, seriously, she just started hitting me.” Jacked on the adrenalin that darted through my veins when I calculated there were close to three hundred records in the boxes, I again jumped to the conclusion that A. had done something, and gave her the assuming ‘You started it glare’

What a cover.

The items were priced at $23, I, in all my audacious glory, said “20?'” she shot me the ‘Are you crazy?’ look and firmly said “Twenty-three”.

It was raining, the girls waited by the loading dock while I got the car, I instructed A. to ‘be cool’ and look after her sister, I pulled up, we piled the ‘goods’ in, and left. We got home, the girls went upstairs to play, and I unloaded the car, and again, there was crying. Who did I point the finger at? Yes.

My Papa Sense tells me:

I have been putting too much pressure on A. lately. She’s the older sister, and I expect more, I do, but is it laziness on my part that I rely on her to rectify situations with her sister, and, because I have things going on in my mind, I shoot the re-direction or blame at her, in hopes of stopping whatever actions are occurring. I believe that, as H.’s big sister, A. has a large responsibility; she is to look out for, guide, and love her, but how much is too much?

Obviously our days aren’t spent pointing fingers at A., but I notice it more lately. Should I back off? Am I right in teaching her that she is to look out for her younger sister? Will I hear “You blamed me for everything” in twenty years?

Oh, you’re wondering about the records? Let’s just say: I hit the jackpot, bought a record player, and am enjoying the sweet sounds of vinyl.

On the other hand, my cleats made it two-thirds the way through our first game before the bottom ripped completely off; I was goaded into playing barefoot for a spell, and eventually finished the game with dirty feet on the sideline.