Chapter 6: A ninja on my neck

It was a long day. My company had been rolling out one of the bigger projects we’d had to date. I was on hour 12 of a 16 hour day, finishing up the work from home so I could at least be near by family. My wife, who had recently fallen under the spell of bronchitis and a sinus infection, sat on the couch, somewhat coherent and catching up on the DVR backlog of shows we had recorded. Dylan was engrossed in some online video game fashioned for kids his age. I was grouchy, tired, and stressed, nose in my laptop, trying to power through all the work that I needed to do to help get this project launched.

And then there was Stella. She’s like an apparition, darting around the room, asking questions over and over again until someone answers. Getting toys out and leaving them where they happen to be when she grows tired of them. She has the busy body of a three-year-old, but the mind of a 6-year-old. As I’m working, she climbs up on the couch next to me, and I barely notice as she slides around behind me, wraps her arms around my neck and begins to hang, her full weight pulling against the front of my throat.

Giggles ensue.

I’m jarred out of overworkitis just enough to notice the new accessory I am wearing.

“Stella, what are you doing?”

“I’m a ninja!” she replies.

As is always the case when one of my kids crack me up, I laugh out loud and feel the same kind of pride and ex-highschool football jock feels when his kid scores a touchdown at the big game. I look around the room to see if anyone else heard this moment of pure genius. My wife is staring at the TV barely conscious due to a nasty cold. My son has the video game hypnosis/drool thing going on. The dog is contently searching for crumbs on the floor. I decide to keep this little gem to myself, because, really, one cannot disclose the true identity of a ninja without jeopardizing one’s life.

Stella, your secret is safe with me.

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