Each child in our lives is unique. They are baubles — small bits of glass that both reflect and refine that light around them. As a parent, we are given a lump, a clump of sand. It is our job to get that sand into a container. Not a finished container, and not yet glass, rather we take the grains of sand and put them into a holder. A place holder truly nowhere finished nowhere near the glass. We, along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors, begin the creation of glass. But the majority of the glass that is to be made is done by the child. They consider the exclusion of impurities or the acceptance of the impurities. Glass itself is clear, without color and the impurities at times can add color.
The addition of color is wholly the child. As a parent, we work on polishing some parts of that glass of that creation that is our child. We buff those places that we can see. We do not touch the inner parts of the child. That resolution comes from within. We offer the impurities that we added to our polished glass bauble, but we do not force the impurities. There is a path to forcing the changes. Each child polishes their view of the universe and in that view moves towards the reality of reflection. That is truly the Their goal to create a perfect bauble that The reflects everything. The very refraction breaking the path of the light to send it off into the infinite.
As parents at times, we watch our children and wonder why they polish one part of their reflection more than others. We offer them proffer advice. Do this, we tell them. Listen to our words, and we are your parents. This gift that we give you will guide you. It will allow you to take the shape that you were meant to take. But as parents, we only see the shape we believe the child should take. We do not see what the sculptor wishes, what the artist within the eye of the child sees in the glass before them. We can only proffer what we know worked for us. We do not know what the glass will bring for our child. Some of it we know, we can predict what will occur. But we also have to accept the perfect reflection created in the glass by the artist that is our child.
(all pictures are of my daughter’s friends. Taken by my daughter!)
My experience of the world was first as a son. Then as a father. Father’s see the world differently than mothers do. Many years ago, and I have told this story before, my daughter spent a lot more time with me than with my wife. I was the one home at the same time every day. My job was stressful but phone-based, so I could answer helpdesk calls in the car, at home or anywhere else I was. Plus, my boss understood the reality of having to pick up children. At that time my wife had a job that she worked 40 hours or 100 hours. It wasn’t easy to know what the week would bring. She would take our daughter to Daycare-based, and I would pick her up. I could guarantee I was there before the daycare closed.
One summer day, we went over to Indiana to see my parents. It was a 2.5-hour drive from where we were in or near Cincinnati to Bloomington Indiana. We were in my parent’s back yard, and our daughter fell and skinned her knee. She was at one end of the deck. I was sitting at the other end of the deck, and my wife, mother, and both sisters were between us. Our daughter started crying got up and ran, past my mother, sisters and my wife and came to me. I took her inside and cleaned up the knee. I didn’t think anything about it. That is what dad’s do. We make things better. My wife thought a lot about it; in fact, I didn’t realize how much until we got into the car.
She, my wife, was upset. Not with me, but with herself. She spent the 2.5 hours back to Cincinnati beating herself up. It bothered her that our daughter needed daddy to fix her knee, not mommy. I tried to explain the differences but sadly did so from a dad perspective. Mom has a much different view of her children than does dad. That difference is important. It helps children understand their place and later their role. My wife and I, by the end of the car ride decided to figure out a way for her to reduce the impact of her job. While the kids tend still to bring injuries to me (I have a longer first aid experience than my wife) they go to mom now, with the emotional issues. The ones that dad usually either steps on or causes.
Rub dirt on it, or walk it off only goes so far when your heart is broken!
The walls now are closer; I can feel them near me. Time isn’t on my side any longer. Tick tock, tick tock the clock never forgets to move. I can stare at it, glare at it, but the clock ticks on. It doesn’t care as it has nothing to do but keep time. Someday of course, or even perhaps today, the battery will run out for the clock. Or I will remove the battery. Stopping the clock at 9:37 am Eastern Daylight Time. The day the time stood still. Perhaps I should make a movie with that title . I have practiced my speech 20 times. I can make it through without crying. I know not to look at my wife. She will be crying. She was sniffling when I did the speech for her two weeks ago.
It is a lot different now than it was then. I have gotten great advice to grab the heartstrings of the audience and play them like a harp. Beautiful emotion music. Take the audience to the top of the mountain, and then to the valley below. I am creating the emotional folding chair for my speech. The up and stored position useful and not something you can sit on. The open deployed position something you can sit on but much harder to store. That is the essence of the speech. To carry the audience to the places they were not, but to connect with those places. To bring to them, the view of who is sitting in the Bride’s dress at the head table of the event.
To share with them all of the emotions all of the moments that for me carry the essence of our daughter. The story for today is the broken toe. My daughter was walking near the marble fireplace in the house. She was moving quickly and didn’t pay attention, her baby toe, small toe, outside toe whatever it is called struck the marble, and at that angle, it broke. Toes are hard. You can’t set them you tape them to the others and let them heal. We, the two of us, sat in the emergency room waiting for the doctor to tell us that. I took a couple of pictures, but I won’t share those. The broken toe healed, the care taken to walk past the marble fireplace increased.
Daughters are a journey. It starts with them calling you Dabo and hanging on every word. They want to grow up to be just like you. Then there comes a day, a time when the name for you is Daaaad a drawn-out sarcastic affectionate. The moment when your daughter no longer waits at the window to see if daddy is home (or Dabo). When in fact, your daughter, respects who you are but wonders if you were as smart as you thought you were. Then comes a time, when your daughter stops, she realizes that dad is more than an ATM. Dad is more than someone to fix things or make things go away. Like Bats flying in the house, or spiders on the wall. Dad’s have something else to give.
That is the journey for a father and a daughter. The path isn’t always clear. I will tell you that for me the change started the night our daughter was born. I carried her around the ward at University Hospital for an hour or so while my wife slept. The nurse said I had to let my daughter sleep, so I put her in her arms and then stood and watched through the window as she went to sleep. Daughters, sons, children you watch them. Each moment, each breath they take changes the world around you. You wish nothing more than to be 10 foot tall and keep the world at bay. IT is a compilation of events that make up the growth of a child. But of those events changes the parent as well.
I am the product of those changes. So is our daughter. She is the outcome of Cincinnati, Greenwood, and then Maryland. She is the outcome of the Center Grove School system, but also the outcome of her friends and of course her mother, brothers and me (a little bit), That outcome is the thing that makes me proud. But more than proud. Dad goes, from 10 feet tall, to human. In becoming human dad becomes less but more. In that transition I can now watch my daughter as a friend. My mother once told me, “If I had known this grandparent thing was so much fun, I would’ve have skipped the whole parent thing.” My mom has a great sense of humor.
I would not trade the days that passed for anything.
In theory, a digital picture could last forever. It won’t, at some point humanity will evolve a new technology, and no one will convert the pictures of today to the new format. Perhaps a thousand years from then people will look at the old files and wonder what they were. Someone will create a viewer and archeologists will be amazed. Look, they took pictures back then. Forever is a moment — the pictures today of a pool party hosted by my daughter. Pool parties were summer events at our house. I guess you could have a winter pool party, but you probably wouldn’t get into the water. Our daughter always had a lot of friends. The opposite often of her brothers.
The thing that always impressed me was the friends with wounded wings she would try to help. She was, still is, always willing to help those who need a boost. The friends she brought together for this particular pool party from 2006 were friends from school and from a church group she was a part of. The forever part of the pictures today is the moment captured. The reality is that all the kids in the pictures are now adults. They are now in college, getting married and beginning lives beyond what they were doing at the pool that summer day. I know a few of the kids in this picture are coming to the wedding in a few days. They remain friends from all those years ago!
Let me end with Fran. Her girl was in the pool, so Fran was watching. She always watched when her girl was In the water. There are so many stories of Fran and our daughter together. The one for today has to do with knee surgery. Our daughter had a genetic issue with her knee. It required surgery and screws in the knee. She went for the surgery. She wasn’t able at that point to go upstairs, so we pulled out the bed in the living couch for her and Fran. My mother came over to see her granddaughter. My wife asked my mom if she (mom was a Nurse for many years) would change the wrap on our Daughters knee. Mom said sure. She walked over to the bed, Fran, who was sleeping woke up and looked at her. My mother started removing the bandage. Our daughter winced in pain. Fran, who loved my mother, growled at mom. My wife had to go and hold Fran’s collar so the wrapping could be finished. Fran was not happy that her girl was being hurt!
Our daughter was born in Cincinnati Ohio, as were the twins. Our daughter was born in University Hospital on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. University Hospital is famous, and it is the front of the hospital shown in the longtime TV show General Hospital. The first day she was in this world I walked around the hospital ward with her. She went back to the nursery about 1 in the morning. My poor wife was exhausted. So my daughter and I walked around the hospital ward. That was an important bonding event that I will never forget. We took her back to our apartment, we were as I’ve mentioned living right behind Kings Island (an amusement park in Cincinnati Ohio) at that time.
One of the things about our daughter is she is resilient. When she was seven months old we moved from Maineville Ohio (near Kings Island) to Western Hills and our first house. When our daughter was about six we moved from Western Hills to Mt. Airy. Then moving again from Mt. Airy to Indianapolis Indiana and finally moving one last time from Indiana to Maryland. Traveling is one thing. You take your stuff with you in a bag and leave home, but you are still coming home. When you move, you are taking your life with you. Our daughter was always good about finding a way to cope and making sure her little brothers were ok with what was happening.
The measure of a person is not what they know. It is not how fast they run. It is not how far they throw a ball. The measure of a person is how they operate under stress. What they do to help others move forward. The story for today is the story of Pickles the Fire Cat. I read that book to my daughter 100 times. I know as a former teacher I should have read it 101 times, but I have snarky enough in me that I couldn’t. So I modified the book, I won’t say how I retold the story it isn’t something appropriate in the modern world (it was about how pickles got other cats out of a tree). But,I was banned and am banned from reading that book around to this day. My wife came home, and our daughter told her “Dabo read the book wrong.”
For those of you who do not know, my daughter is getting married on the first day of the 9th month of the year 2019 in Maryland. I have spent the past few days remembering stories for my wedding speech. Good stories, heart-tugging stories. I promise I am not going to cry! Each child has a unique path that they wind through your lives.
My daughter is someone that has impressed me many times. She declared that she was going to be the best big sister ever before the twins were born. I know adults that run away from diapers and runaway from feeding twins. She didn’t she was there thick and thin. Fun jobs, like with the twins, she was there. Tough jobs like cleaning up puke she was there.
That was why I knew she asked for a dog that she was ready to manage the responsibility. She had already done it for humans. For the next ten days leading up to the wedding, I am going to share old pictures of my daughter, and stories. Today I am launching this new wander project bit. I have done focused bits like this in the past. I have two goals. To share the stories of a wonderful person and to prepare me for the huge reality of adding a son to the family.