Wow. It’s hard to believe, but my darling daughter, scourge of stupid bigotry and nightmare of fundy intolerance, voracious reader of grown up literature and writer of beautiful poetry, kind, insightful, intelligent, exuberant, and unapologetic mistress of all things mysterious, turns sixteen years old today.
She’s had sixteen years to hone the edge on her tongue, and she has taken full advantage.
She wasted no time in getting started, either. She was born by C-section and displayed her contrary personality from square one. Despite the repeated annoying attempts to block my view with that stupid paper screen, I watched as the doctor reached in and grabbed hold of my lovely little girl. First came a little tiny foot, which suddenly came to a halt a few inches outside my wife’s belly. The other leg had caught inside. Back in went the first foot, and out came two feet. But Kayla was not letting go that easily.
Armpits somehow managed to get wedged behind rib cage. In went two feet, out came two feet and two arms. But no head. Again, with nothing but a chin to use as leverage, she was simply refusing to enter the cold cruel world. Finally, with one last insertion and withdrawal, out came the most beautiful baby girl ever to grace this planet.
Somewhere in the depths of my brain I understood that the piercing wail threatening to explode my brain was not an air raid siren. The medical staff may not have been so sure.
Due to complications, my wife was unconscious, and remained that way for nearly a week. I was the first to hold my little bundle of joy, directly from the doctor’s hands into my arms.
By the time she was born, my daughter already owned quite the little library of children’s books. She’d heard them many times over the previous 9 months. I regularly laid my head against the swollen belly of my wife and read Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, The Little Mermaid, and even Grimm’s fairy tales.
So it was no real surprise when she instantly ceased her screaming when I began to speak to her. There is no doubt that my voice was familiar. My daughter knew me before she was born, and I like to think that my voice was a warm blanket, consoling her after the trauma of birth.
It was amusing but also unsurprising that she immediately resumed the air raid warning when the nurse extricated her from my arms to clean her up and weigh and measure her. Not for one second was there anything resembling quiet in the delivery room until she was returned to The Voice. My Voice. Her Daddy. Me.
Sixteen years have gone by since that very day. Over that time, she’s grown more close to her Mom. She’s gone through all the little and big things that little girls go through to become teenagers, half way to womanhood. She doesn’t include me in every little thing she does, and she no longer screams when we are apart. But I’m not jealous or envious or resentful. No matter how much time passes, no matter how much she grows up, no matter how vehemently she may assert her independence, there is one thing that will never change.
From that very first moment, sixteen years ago today, she will always be Daddy’s Little Girl.