I realized when my daughter Brenna was born, that I was really, for the first time, vulnerable. Before, I thought I was an iron man. I was a rock, an island. The only one that could hurt me was me. That’s easy.
Then came Brenna.
As a toddler, she ate a dog vitamin with steroids in it. I almost passed out from fear. With shaking hands, I called the doctor on the phone.
“What’s going to happen, should we rush her to the hospital?” I cried, afraid of the answer.
“The symptom is, for a while, she’ll have an extreme sense of……well-being,” the doctor said.
My heart convulsed a little slower. Must be the steroids, I thought.
I knew that from now on, I could really be hurt, because I loved another human being so much.
I was also vulnerable financially.
Brenna would sit before the TV set, and every time a toy was advertised, point a pudgy finger to the screen and say, “I want that!”
Then there was the time I spent most of the night putting a do-it-yourself-kit rocking horse together, half the instructions written in manuel-eze-Neanderthal English, the other half in French. I managed to get the thing together. Brenna, three years old at the time, was so worked up in tense expectation, that when we brought her into the room and unveiled the horse, she collapsed on the floor and her head went “thunk!”
I rushed her to the kitchen faucet, but she was joyfully riding that hobby horse within five minutes.
She’s grown up now to be eleven years old. Recently, when I thought she had run away from home because I’d been a little mean to her, I was so racked with worry searching for her, I felt like I was going to have a coronary. I staggered into a neighbor’s yard.
Brenna was simply out with my wife getting groceries.
I guess I’m a little over-protective. Who wouldn’t be? She’s the world’s first and only perfect child.
I took her roller skating. I had to watch as this little girl, holding onto the hand of an adult partner, took her first lurching, unsteady laps around the outer edge of the rink, as the rest of the skaters, huge and ferocious-looking, zoomed past.
I bit my lip.
I wondered, is this worth it? I’m aging fast enough as it is. The kid isn’t even a teenager yet. I need a break from being a father and a husband. I need to go to a Club Med for a month, and swing.
I’d had a rough day at work that day. Discouraged, sitting in my office, I said out loud to myself, that maybe I’m a “loser.”
Brenna came into the room, looked into my eyes and said, “daddy, you’re not a loser.”
The sweet smile on my little girl’s face, like sunlight, was worth more than all the meaningless status and possessions piled up high. I suddenly felt very lucky.
I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter or love her any more (even if I still lose my temper once in awhile). She’s articulate, and talented, and a darn good writer.
God gives us children, because God always wants to give us just one more chance, to get the world right.