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How Young Is Too Young To Ship Your Kids Off Part II: The Prodigal Chicagoan

Yesterday evening I fired off a quick post about my return home to visit my folks and retrieve my daughter. Unlike the love/hate relationship I have with New York, Chicago was a place I escaped as a college boy to find myself in the wilderness of the world. Each time I return to her, I return stronger and more knowledgeable than the last time. But an overwhelming sense of betrayal settles over me each time I touch down. Chicago and it's outlying areas are where the majority of my family resides. The rest, I don't know.

The wife dropped me at LaGuardia Airport at 5:30 this morning. I sidestepped most of the chaos that greeted me by bringing a compact carry-on suitcase with me. By sleeping through most of the flight, I avoided my ever-growing flying jitters. I landed at O'Hare airport at 8 o'clock this morning, but didn't get out of that behemoth structure until well after nine. My father retrieved me from the baggage claim and we caught up on the drive home. We ran errands along the way. When we arrived my father was carrying a bag of stationery from Staples and I, a bag of cereal, contact lens solution and Preparation H from Walgreens (don't ask or wonder) along with my luggage.

To be honest, I was more curious than I was excited as I walked the path to the porch of my parents' house.

But when my father opened the door...

I saw a little, cheeky face with 4 pigtails peek through the opening and yell, "Grandpa!" Then she saw me and screamed at the top of her lungs. I walked into the house and watched my child run zigzags between my parents. She hopped, spun in circles, grabbed my mother's legs, grabbed my dad's legs, ran to the front of the living room, and ran into the kitchen --- screaming the entire time.

"Hi, baby," I said, softly and opened my arms.

She ran straight at me and jumped into my arms. She dug her fingers into my neck and wrapped her legs around my torso. She's gotten taller since I last saw her and she's speaking in full sentences. In that moment I saw my father snapping pics out of the corner of my eye and my mom rambling on about how cute we were. But in that moment all I truly heard was my baby's breath against my eardrum as she buried her face into my shoulder. In this place, I was completely at peace.

I spun her around to face a mirror and saw her grinning from ear to ear.

"Daddy," she said, with glee. She kissed me and pulled at my cheeks.

"I love you, baby," I told her as I set her down. "I love you so much."

And she hasn't let me out of her sight since.

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