A Cute Orange Pencil

“A Cute Orange Pencil” – from Nathaniel Dunigan’s Journal

It’s no big secret that a daughter has very special powers over her father.

“Daddy?” Diana (age 4) said to me this morning. And that was it.




How can that word (which I have heard literally thousands of times in the last few years) melt me so?


All my kids are getting older. For the guys, this means that I am now often “Dad”—not “Daddy”. And, honestly, I adore this new y-less name just as much as the other—but in a different way. My pride rejoices when I hear, “Hi, Dad.” Or, “Please, Dad, may I go into town?” (I’ll rejoice less, perhaps, when that request includes a petition for the car keys—but let me do this in baby steps. I have two more years before the driving issue settles in.)

But this mysterious power of “Daddy?” spoken from the perfect mouth of one of my girls—well—I hardly know where to start!



(Do you know how much self-control it takes to prevent me from saying, “Name it. I’ll do it”?)

Instead, though, I say, “Wangi, Baanbi?” (meaning: Yes, dear?)

Today, Diana gave me her perfect smile and then implored me with deep, precious eyes, and said simply, “Njagala pincido.” (I would like a pencil.)

“Done!” I said. “Let’s go look for one in the closet.” There we found a cute orange pencil.

I handed it to her.

She received it with both hands (as we do in Uganda when we want to show respect and love), and said, “Thank you, Daddy!”

And then scurried off happily. (Her scurry is quite crooked from an inoperable birth condition, but she scurries nonetheless.)


And, I must say, it is good that she hurried off, because I was only two beats away from saying, “You’re welcome! Would you like TWO pencils?”

Seriously, the bond created from language’s intimacy when it reflects the heart is perhaps my life’s most wonderful lesson to-date.

And I love it.


“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” –Helen Keller