“How was school, sweetheart?”
Pam peeked in the rear view mirror at her daughter in the back seat.
Great—Cece was only 5 and already giving her one-word responses.
“What did you learn?” she prodded.
“Stuff,” Cece chimed happily with a shrug that was so ‘Halpert’ it was almost comical.
“Well, guess what? Someone came home from work early today…”
Cece’s face lit up. “Daddy?!”
Cece pumped two tiny fists in her lap and grinned.
Pam and Cece had a special bond and Pam knew that. She knew that her daughter still preferred Pam to sing a song at night (“Daddy’s voice sounds funny”) and she always came to Mommy first when she scraped her knees or Phillip looked at her the wrong way. They had a tradition of baking cookies together every Sunday and Cece still wanted to hold Pam’s hand everywhere they went.
But Cece and Jim.
That little girl lived and breathed for her father. And boy, were they cut from the same cloth. After Pam sang to her at night, Cece and Jim would lay in her bed, Jim’s leg dangling over the edge, and they would look at the ceiling, coming up with stories and new knock-knock jokes, and Pam could never be mad about how far past her bedtime it was because she lived for the way Jim could make Cece belly laugh.
Cece took an interest in anything Jim loved. She asked for a Philly’s hat for her birthday when she was 4 and Pam couldn’t get her to take it off for two straight months. But watching her sit in the crook of Jim’s arm on the couch with that crusty hat (that she somehow managed to cover in ranch dressing and orange juice) while she watched the baseball game with him was something she had mentally framed and hung on the wall of memories she wanted to keep forever.
The thing was, Pam wasn’t jealous of his relationship with Cece because she understood. She understood what a magnetic force Jim Halpert was. She understood the pull of wanting to be around him all the time. She understood how it felt to be loved by him, and she was so grateful her daughter could feel that too.
They pulled into the house and unloaded from the car, Cece nearly losing a shoe as she sprinted inside to greet Jim. Pam chuckled and shook her head. By the time she got into the doorway, Cece was already sitting on Jim’s lap on the couch, pulling all kinds of things out of her backpack to show him.
“And then we did this picture thing where we had to draw something we think is yucky, so I drew Phillip…”
“Cecilia…” Jim warned with a laugh, but Cece kept going like she hadn’t heard him.
“And we talked all about the letter K and the number 7. But I already knew about them,” she bragged, “so I just drew more pictures.”
She held up two pictures proudly, one of a dog and one of a fairy.
“Whoa, C...these are really good!”
Pam cleared her throat, even though she agreed the pictures were pretty amazing for a 5-year-old.
“Buuuut…” he continued, meeting Pam’s eye. “You need to listen to your teacher and do the schoolwork she wants you to.”
Pam smiled with a nod.
Cece rolled her eyes. “Fiiiine…” She dug down into her backpack. “Oh! And Gavin gave me this.”
Jim’s brow furrowed. “Who’s Gavin?”
“A cute boy in my class,” Cece smiled at him.
He stiffened and shook his head. “Nope, no...Cece. Boys aren’t cute. Boys are yucky and dumb.”
Pam chuckled as she watched Jim turning over the papers Gavin had given Cece, a look of concern plastered on his face. “Is that a heart?!”
“Yeah! He’s good at drawing hearts, huh?” Cece said, now hopping off Jim’s lap and walking to the kitchen for a snack.
Jim looked at Pam, his mouth gaping. He pointed at the paper plastered with crayon hearts. “Hearts, Pam.”
“He’s a cute kid,” she laughed, walking toward him. “I’ve met him a few times when I’ve helped in Cece’s class.”
“No, Pam,” he said firmly. “She is 5. Boys are supposed to have cooties.” He poked his finger at the paper again. “Hearts. And!” he gasped, shaking the paper toward Pam. “He didn’t even spell her name right!! C-I-C-I?! Who does that?”
“A kindergartener,” she said, amused. Pam sat next to him and rubbed circles on his back. “You going to be okay? Do you need some water or something,” she joked.
He leaned against the back of the couch and put his hand on Pam’s knee. After a few moments of silence, he turned his head to look at her.
“She called me ‘Dad’ the other day. Not ‘Daddy’,” he said softly. “And she always wants to make her own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches now.”
She understood now. She scooted toward him and rested her head on his chest. “She’s growing up.”
He rubbed her arm. “I don’t like it.”
Jim turned and kissed the top of Pam’s head. They sat in comfortable silence for a few moments.
“He’s not good enough for her.”
Pam chuckled. “Who, the five-year-old you’ve never met?”
“Yeah.” His tone was dead serious and Pam couldn’t contain her amusement. She stroked his cheek with her hand.
“Do we have his phone number? I want to talk to him.”
She kissed his cheek softly. “It’s just a picture, sweetheart,” she whispered against his stubble.
“First it’s a picture, then it’s a new toy, and before you know it, he’s giving her a teapot filled with inside jokes.”
Pam squeezed him tight. “If Gavin, who lets remember, is five, ends up being anything like the guy who gave me a teapot, I think we’ll be okay.”
Jim let out a hefty sigh. “I guess you’re right.”
“I am,” she said as she patted his shoulder and stood up from the couch to help Cece and Phillip in the kitchen.
That night, Pam stopped outside Cece’s bedroom on her way back from starting a load of laundry and saw Jim in his regular spot next to Cece on her bed. They laid there, both of them with their hands behind their heads and their legs crossed, looking up at the glow in-the-dark stars on her ceiling.
“And then, the young princess realized that she could do whatever she wanted to do and didn’t need the help of any stupid prince and definitely didn’t need him to save her or make her feel special because she already knew she was. Oh, and she didn’t even get near any of the princes until she was like, 30…”
Pam smiled to herself as she continued back to their bedroom, the sound of Cece’s laughter ringing happily in her ears.
I had this story idea come to me and since I’ve hit a tiny wall with my current WIP, I decided to whip it out and post it. Because Dad Jim is probably my favorite Jim.
Author's Chapter Notes:
I own nothing mentioned, as usual.
Chapter End Notes:
My daughter who is in kindergarten has a little admirer who gives her little drawings and presents all the time. That’s where the inspiration for this story came from, and the idea of an overprotective Jim is just too adorable to pass up. :) Thanks for indulging me.
WanderingWatchtower is the author of 20 other stories.
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