Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Princess is Six


Time moves swiftly. Today my daughter Emerson turned six years old. I can still clearly remember sitting in a hospital room in 2003 and holding my wife's hand as she gave birth to our little girl. At around 11pm the doctor decided that Meredith would need to have a C-section. The first time I saw my daughter, she was a football shaped head sitting on top of Meredith's belly. Then, like a hiker pulling his tent out of a backpack, the doctor pulled the rest of her little body right out. It looked like a scene out of Alien.

Since that night, I've watched my daughter grow from a cute, plump baby with cheeks you could sneak illegal immigrants across the border in, into a beautiful little girl. Every moment of the journey she has never been anything less than my princess. She has never possessed anything less that 100% of my heart. I have two boys whom I dearly love as well. But there is just something special about the relationship a dad has with his daughter. She smiles at me, hugs me, draws me a picture, or climbs into my lap, and I just melt. When you have a little girl, you spend half your time overwhelmed by how much you love her and wondering what could have possibly made life worthwhile before she was born. The other half you spend praying to God that she never meets a boy like the one you were when you were a teenager and vowing to kill the little son of a gun if she ever does.

My daughter's birthday started with presents. My wife and I surprised Emerson with a new pair of roller-skates and a fish tank for the new fish we would let her pick out later that day. On one hand, it was awesome. Emerson loved the gifts and was very excited. On the other, her three-year-old brother, William, was horrified to learn that it was not his birthday and he would not be receiving a fish. Not since the Angel of Death made his trek through Egypt has such a cry of suffering risen to the heavens. William then proceeded to run behind Emerson as she attempted to skate, crying and continually asking, "When is it my turn? When is it my turn? When is it my turn..."

Eventually, we made it to William's soccer game. Three-year-old soccer games are quite an experience. There is usually one kid who is very aggressive and scores all the goals. The rest mostly watch this midget Pele run up and down the field, occassionally turning their attention towards a grasshopper they just found or running off the field of play without warning because they just noticed their buddy from preschool playing two fields away. When the coach tries to tell them what to do, they usually ignore him or respond with something along the lines of "I have to pee," "When is the game over," or "When do we get our snack?"

After an hour of munchkin World Cup competition, we headed back to the house until it was time for Emerson's game a few hours later. Once at the house, Emerson put her skates back on, and William resumed his hysterical "When is it my turn? When is it my turn?" pursuit around the house.

Around 12:45, Emerson and I headed back to the soccer field for her game. Being the head coach, I surveyed my team to see who had arrived and didn't have to go to the bathroom. I then chose my starting seven, Emerson being one of them (she's pretty good at soccer). It's a six-year-0ld league, so I try to let every kid have a chance to play goalie for a quarter. Today, I decided to start Sarah in goal. Sarah is a sweet girl. Not sure that she really wants to play soccer though. She's barely as big as my three year old. In front of that big soccer net she looked like an unsuspecting fly about to be squashed by an unseen fly-swatter. It just so happened that the team we were facing turned out to be the best in the league. One of their players was especially good. I have serious doubts that this kid is really only six. He was a head taller than anyone on my team, and I'm pretty sure I saw him smoking cigarettes and shaving before game time. This kid rocked us for six goals all by himself in the first period. Poor little Sarah looked like a mallard on the opening day of duck season. I can only hope she won't need therapy as a result of the experience. We ultimately lost 9-0.

Despite the soccer carnage, the rest of Emerson's birthday was great. At Emerson's request we went out for Chinese food. Then we went to the pet store and let her buy three fish, which she promptly named Sparkles, Emily, and Lizzie. After bath time, my wife, Meredith and I sat with Emerson and William in Emerson's room and watched the fish (1 1/2 -year-old Carson was already in bed). We turned the lights out and just watched the fish swim by the light of the fish tank. We talked about the fish, the day, and how William wants a fish and roller-skates too on his next birthday. Eventually, Meredith took William to bed and I laid down beside Emerson in her bed for a few minutes while she fell asleep.

As I quietly climbed out of the bed and left the room, I took a few moments to look back and watch Emerson as she slept. I felt myself getting emotional as I looked at her. "She's so beautiful," I thought, "and she's getting so big." We all have moments in our lives when our problems suddenly don't seem like much; when we realize that we need to work a bit harder to keep our priorities straight and devote time to those we love rather than letting ourselves become consumed by work, the pursuit of material success, or focusing on life's obstacles. Watching Emerson tonight was one of those moments for me. My princess is growing up (and so are my little boys). I don't want to look back one day and kick myself for worrying about other things or focusing too much on the future when I should have--and could have--been enjoying the moment. As dads we need to remember that our kids won't remember the material things we gave them or how much success we achieved in the professional world. They'll remember us coaching their soccer team, holding their hand while they tried out their new pair of skates, and lying with them and talking as we watched some fish swim around a little fish tank. I often don't get things right in my life, but one thing I did nail: I enjoyed and savored today. I hope and pray I can keep that attitude every precious day I have with my kids.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for allowing me the chance to reflect on my own relationship with Karli through the telling of Emerson's birthday experience! You are a gifted writer and a good father!

    Ken

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  2. "Not since the Angel of Death made his trek through Egypt has such a cry of suffering risen"

    I heard this same wail last week when my four year old grandson, Kylan, found out there was not going to be any chicken nuggets...

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  3. Oh, and by the way, next week is Emerson's wedding day !

    (time flies so-so too fast, savor every moment!)

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  4. I really loved this post! it made me laugh! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Aww...this one brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure it has something to do with my newly turned 6 year old daughter...but yes...we must savor every day.

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