Make Mine Vanilla

Make Mine Vanilla

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Make Mine Vanilla

Life’s greatest joys are hidden in unsubstantial things.

May Riley Smith

It was a plain-old-vanilla kind of night. My husband, away on a business trip, had just phoned to say his good nights to us. Before hanging up, we played our usual game of “kissy face,” making kinky promises that we never intended to keep. I hung up the phone and stared at it, trying to hold on to his presence a little longer. Carefully, I placed the name and phone number of where he would be staying on the refrigerator door with the same rainbow magnet I always used. Plain-old-vanilla life, I thought.

A glance at the clock jolted me back to reality and the fact that it was a school night. Jade, our six-year-old daughter, should be in bed by now. I proceeded to walk down the hall, knowing exactly which plank on the hardwood floor would creak when I walked on it. Jade knew, too, for I immediately heard the hurried sounds of a little girl trying to pretend she was already in bed.

Upon reaching the stairs, I took slow, deliberate steps to give her more time to look believable. Fourteen—fifteen— sixteen, I’ve counted these steps a million times. Going up—going down, it was always the same—sixteen. At the top of the stairs, I paused for a moment to gaze at the moon, which always looked better from that cathedral window than any other place I can remember. Plain-old-vanilla life, but good vanilla, like Häagen-Dazs.

While entering Jade’s room, I admired how perfectly we matched the pale green walls with pink heart border to her pale green covers with pink, heart-shaped pillows. Her priceless treasure chest of “dress-up” clothes, placed at the foot of her canopy bed, allowed her to easily transform herself into a royal princess by day and a fearless pirate by night. The collectible dolls stood in beautiful gowns, patiently waiting for the ball to begin, while the Barbie dolls, half-dressed in their townhouse, were still trying to decide what to wear. The perfect little girl’s room filled with the jubilant magic of childhood.

I walked over to Jade’s bed, where she sat hugging the white tiger that her dad had brought home from one of his trips. “Ready for your prayers?” I asked. With the innocence of a child, Jade asked God to bless everyone and everything she loved. “And God please bless Daddy, who has to sleep on the big airplane. Amen. ”With that I tucked in her covers and kissed her forehead. “Go to sleep,” I whispered. “Tomorrow’s a school day.”

Walking out, I made sure to turn on the nightlight and leave the door half-open, just as she liked. Still within earshot, I heard her whisper to her tiger, “We have the best mommy in the whole world.”

“Go to sleep, Jady Wady,” I called, and the last sweet sounds I heard were giggles.

Vanilla with sprinkles, I thought, and smiled.

Adrienne C. Reynolds

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