Last night was a blood bath. My eight, almost nine, year old daughter hit the wall, and some other things, including her brother. I saw it coming, but could not avoid or outrun the train wreck about to occur. I always see it coming. She has many tells. When I see them, my radar chirps and I get antsy and move into damage control mode.
Unfortunately, I am not the only one in my household. Other members of my family are not as sensitive as I am regarding this volatile little hornets’ nest. Well, the night ended with tears and screaming and me lying in my girl’s bed singing corny songs and rubbing her back, trying to talk her off the ledge of crazy.
That was then. This morning, as it always does, brought a new day. She woke up with a fresh face and new attitude. I made her cinnamon rolls and brought her orange juice as she finished her homework at our kitchen table. She was happy and satisfied and quiet.
She is a dichotomy. She is super-sweet and a true monster. Her moods are unpredictable and can swing on thin, often unforeseen, minutia. Most of the time, I don’t know what inspires her random outrages. But, sometimes I do. She is just tired. I know this one. I know when it is coming and I know how to respond. I like knowing how to respond. It doesn’t happen very often. In these moments, I remember that she is still my little girl.
She sends a lot of signals indicating that she is not little. Not only does she say so, but she also exhibits an awareness and insight and talents that were not there yesterday. She is growing up, too damn quick. I saw her use her house key today. I have never seen her use it. In fact, I forgot she even had one. This may seem like a pretty small thing, but the little things join forces with other little things to make a big change. I have always opened the door for my girl. She has waited and yelled at me to hurry up as she stood by the door tapping her foot impatiently as I unloaded all of her crap from my truck to carry for her. Now, while I still carry her crap, she can unlock the door for herself. She no longer waits for me, nor even leaves the door open for me.
This is the scary and sad part for me: She is no longer waiting for me. She doesn’t need me to help her with basically everything. She doesn’t need me to make her lunch or fix her hair or open the door. And maybe the saddest part for me is that she doesn’t want me to. She wants to do it herself. I have fantasized about this day for years and now that it is here, it kind of sucks. It is here that I am conflicted, because I am pretty lazy and don’t want to do all the things she wants me to, but I still want her to want me to do them. She doesn’t…at least as much.
Well, this is my life and all life and the only certainty is that it goes on. My girl is slowly, but surely crawling to the edge of the nest and will one day fly away. But, that day is not today and she will always be my little girl. So, I will enjoy the little pains in my butt that belong to her. The pains will certainly change in the unwelcome upcoming years, but they do not go away. This is reassuring. She is mine and she will always need me for something, maybe not walking her to school or opening doors. But she will need me. And I will be there singing a stupid song ready to scratch her back.
[EDITOR'S NOTE:"Feel Good Friday" is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: "Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!" Also, you can "friend" Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]