She Dances

It is not an exaggeration to say that she was born while I danced in the fire. This little girl of mine, the one I call the dark eyed beauty showed up during one of the more tumultuous periods of my life. She was born two days after my father’s triple bypass, a full week after her due date. I suppose that it is fair to say that her late arrival was one of the earliest indications that she takes after her father. She and I have our own sense of time which most of the time is ok, except for when it is not.

I am no different from any other parent when I say that I can’t believe how fast the time has passed. I am sure that this won’t be the only post that write about her this week and that is ok. Her older brother starred in quite a few- call it privilege of being the older sibling.

This little girl of mine has long dark hair that extends well past her shoulders and ends in curls. She has a handful of freckles on her face and a cute button nose that she sometimes scrunches up. When she wants something from me she likes to climb up on my lap, throw her arms around my neck and shower me with kisses. I try to sit stone faced and unresponsive, but I never last long. That smile breaks across my face like waves pounding the shore and she smiles back at me.

I still manage to say no and she looks confused. “Daddy, I didn’t ask yet.” I tell her that I know that but that the answer is no. It is too late for a story, candy, dessert, gifts, whatever it is the answer is no. She glares at me and I glare back. I ask her if she has forgotten that I have ten thousand sisters and have watched her aunts play the same game with her grandfather. She smiles and says “dang it” and skips out of the room.

I love watching her skip like that- it is joy personified.

Seven years ago I had no idea whether she was a boy or a girl. Seven years ago I remember wondering what the week would bring. My father’s surgery was already scheduled for the 21st but I was still concerned. Just a few short months before I had gotten a call telling me that he was on a ventilator and that he probably wouldn’t make it. I sat on a six hour plane ride and prayed/willed him to be there when I got off. Hit the ground running and grabbed the first available car at Hertz. I like to talk about how fast I drove and how I would have won the Indy 500 that day. That is how I remember it.

But maybe it didn’t happen that way. Maybe the sands of time have blurred those moments- I don’t know.

The flight home was another six hours of angst and uncertainty. Back home I talked her older brother and spoke to her through her mother’s belly. “Little one, listen to your father and wait to show until after grandpa’s surgery.”

Time moved in jerks and starts. Five minutes stretched into hours and then hours were compressed into minutes. It was life in bizarro world. My grandparents asked pointed questions about my father, suggested that maybe I hadn’t told them how serious the situation was. I didn’t deny or acknowledge it. I did what I had to do because that is what a father does.

A few minutes prior to midnight she made her way into the world. A soft scream let us know that she was around and then for a few moments she lay in her incubator, an entire hand wrapped around my index finger. I stared at her and made the kinds of promises that daddies make to their daughters. I whispered words of encouragement and blessed her and marveled over her perfection.

Now almost seven years later the baby is a girl who dances. She dances to music that I play and to music that only she hears. She takes my hand and I twirl her around and we dance together.

Daughters are different. Not better or worse than boys, just different. I love my children equally and without question. But for the next few days she is ready to pretend to be queen of the castle and I am good with that. She has a long list of things that she would like. An American Girl doll, a webkin, a bear and a request to go to Disneyland are all part of her plan.

She comes to me and says that she would give them all up if I could give her one gift. I tell her that I wouldn’t give her all those things at once any way and she laughs. She says she knows that but she still wants me to know what her request is. I nod and she tells me that she would give all of those things up if I could just let her keep her house.

Before I can respond she nods her head and climbs into my lap. She knows that she has asked for the very thing that I can’t give her. We sit in silence and I wrap my arms a little bit tighter around her. The future is coming faster than any of us want and we have no choice but to answer it.

This but a moment in time that I try to burn into my memory. Today she is almost seven and able to sit on my lap. Seven years from now she may still feel entitled to sit on my lap whenever she wants, but she won’t be so little. She won’t fit the way that she does now and I am ok with that. But I wouldn’t mind if she didn’t grow up quite so quickly.

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  1. TheJackB July 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    @Leon Leon, there has been no greater pleasure than my children. Although I should add that my father insists that being a grandfather is far superior to being dad- I’ll have to withhold judgement on that one for a while…hopefully a long while. 😉

    My latest conversation:

  2. TheJackB July 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    @SxNSingleDad I can only imagine that eye rolling- ok I don’t have to imagine it because she has done it. But, she doesn’t quite have the teenage attitude yet and I am grateful for that.

    My latest conversation:

  3. Leon July 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    G’Day Jack,

    Thanks for reminding me; although I really neeed no reminding. Mums and their sons: dads and their daughters. It’s a rare privelege.

    Reminds me of that wonderful saying. “Behind every successful man, there’s a woman rolling her eyes.”

    Just enjoy Jack.



  4. SxNSingleDad July 19, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Dude, my daughter will be 14 next month and I know exactly what you mean. Keep em young as long as you can. Once the eye rolling starts, it’s all downhill.

  5. TheJackB July 19, 2011 at 9:55 am

    @TLanceB I am very curious about the teenage years. So not ready for that. When the time comes I will be excited but I am happy to wait.

    You are right about the magic of this age. Seven is still young enough to do a lot with- they aren’t too cool for it yet. Unconditional love is so very accurate.

    My latest conversation:

  6. TheJackB July 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

    @myeverydaydaddy I am glad to hear that you got that moment back with your daughter. Some things are truly invaluable and this clearly is one of them

  7. TLanceB July 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

    This hit home. I have one turning 7 in Sept and anotehr turning 8 in Auguust. In some ways they are babies and in other ways they seem so grown.

    As I’ve been writing a lot about lately, getting to “know” them before they are really grown is key. I love knowing what makes them tick. Their unconditional love at that age is unforgettable. My ttenager, 15, is on another level.

  8. myeverydaydaddy July 19, 2011 at 3:27 am

    great piece of writing jackb. my girls are 21 and 24. this year i had a chance to spend two weeks with my older one in cambodia. it had been hard for us for a few years as I had divorced from her mother when she was 16. like a fool i though she would be ok, the oldest and wise one but she was crushed and I felt shit. we still muddle along, she could not come to terms with my new wife. so to cut it short. it got better. I came back from Cambodia(she was traveling the world) and my wife said in a touching way “it feels like you have fallen back in love with your daughter”. she did not mean I never loved her but she was kinda of right. I discovered that in my 24 year old I could feel what it was like to hold her at 24hrs.

    your piece touched that. Keep it up.

  9. TheJackB July 18, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    @marianne.worley My daughter is constantly watching me. She studies me so that she can find that weak spot and believe me, it is there. She keeps working.

    Right now I keep pretending like it doesn’t affect me. She is my favorite devil. 😉

  10. TheJackB July 18, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    @Jk Allen JK, it is good that you don’t hate the ugly man- that would wreck my image of you. 😉

    Two girls, 2 and 7- such beautiful ages. They see things that we don’t see and show us them in such a soft and soulful manner.

    Thank you for visiting again, I look forward to seeing you soon.

  11. marianne.worley July 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    As a total Daddy’s Girl myself, I recognize your dark eyed beauty’s talents. I had the perfect way of saying, “Daaaaddddyyyy” when I was her age. I definitely think you have a stronger will than my Dad had!

  12. Jk Allen July 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Jack – rarely am I at a point where I don’t have much to say. But this is one of those times. This was simply one of those posts that we just read (listen), consume and let it be with us. It was beautiful! I agree that daughters are different. not better or worse than sons…just different. I have two girls: 2 and 7

    You write with such emotion Jack. This one touched me.

    Thanks for sharing!

    And I don’t “hate the ugly man!”

  13. Faryna July 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    This is perfect, Jack. Awesome. And thank you.

  14. Lori July 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    @TheJackB When my son, my second child was born someone said to us, “Now you have the millionaire’s family!” I didn’t know then what that meant. I know now!

  15. TheJackB July 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    @Kristen @ Motherese Kristen, it truly is wonderful. She and I have so much fun together. Although I am told that just by virtue of being dad things are different.

    Can’t say if that is true or not, but it is well worth the ride.

  16. TheJackB July 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    @Lori Hi Lori,

    It really is great having both. We get to do it all that way. The kids are great and though they are sometimes the major source of my stress they are also my greatest joy.

  17. Kristen July 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to your “big” girl. It sounds like you are both very lucky to have each other.

    My little girl is only five months old, but already I feel lucky to have the chance to know what it is to parent both genders. The way you describe your relationship with her and how it’s grown only makes me more grateful to have a daughter.

  18. Lori July 18, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Hi Jack,

    I can’t help but feel children of bloggers are most blessed! Imagine this beautiful testimonial to her, of your love for her and your cherishing of her very existence in your life. I like how you say “Daughters are different. Not better or worse than boys, just different.” You, like me, are lucky to have both a son and a daughter. When I am at my lowest of lows I can bring myself back up by thinking of how lucky I am! I have a friend who has only boys – she’s missing more than she can imagine! My sister has only girls. She is missing out too.

    Isn’t it a gift for you to turn this into poetry at a difficult time in your life. That is the privilege of poets and writers. Bravo!


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