Tears of Joy
The baby up there in the photo is my middle daughter. The picture (with my wife, just hours after she woke from the anesthesia during her c-section) doesn’t illustrate my point as much as the day it was taken. This picture was snapped fifteen years ago. Fifteen years to the day.
That little baby up there is now a full-fledged teenage girl with all the angst, hormones and attitude to go with it.
I wouldn’t have it any other way, I have to say.
Yes…there are days. Believe me, there are days when I want to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her.
The first day of school, when she was watching her brothers for a few hours until I got home from work . . . that was a particularly spectacular example. I am fortunate in that my sons aren’t total monsters. Still, they were left to their own devices while their teenage sister locked herself in her room and talked to friends via FaceTime and played her guitar.
That’s not the responsibility she was supposed to be shouldering.
We had a “come to Jesus” meeting after that and she realized the error of her ways. No throttling involved.
More often than not, though, she’s been a particularly wonderful little girl. Well…little not the word any more. She’s five foot eight with thick hair and dark brown eyes. She’ll be a heartbreaker when she grows up, which I’m fighting tooth and nail.
Those hormones, though, push the envelope of attitude a lot. I’ve often heard the “Daaaaad!” with the eyeroll mandatory in the middle of the exclamation. It’s not something I dealt with as much with her sister, but then . . . those same years were in the wake of losing their mother. That threw all of us into a bit of a dark place.
So I take it as more than a little challenge to surprise the kids when I can. Sometimes it’s as simple as what we’re having for dinner. Sometimes it’s just going out for dinner or maybe a simple dessert they love.
But more often, it’s by listening when they think I’m not.
For Hannah, that’s what lead to a wonderful birthday gift. Hannah and I share a birthday so it makes July 1st fun for me again. I got her presents months ago. She has a favorite band, Paramore, and was fairly certain I didn’t know anything about them. Never mind that I’d heard the band before her older sister had. Never mind that her older sister was obsessed with Paramore more than a few years before. I poke fun at the fact they cannot ignore the influence of Shirley Manson and the band Garbage, but my daughter disputes it.
My daughter kept dropping hints about a tour. I politely informed her that a concert with her friend or middle of the week or what have you just wasn’t in the cards. Unless they came into our town there was no way.
Then came Record Store Day and the special, limited release single that the band was releasing. It looked like a vinyl LP broken in half, but the remaining pieces made up the single. It’s very clever, well designed, and I saw the dismay on her face when, on Record Store Day, there wasn’t a copy to be found.
So today I got videos of my daughter opening her presents. Wonderful stuff from her grandparents and uncle…and then the flat box I sent to her. Inside was two tickets – her sister is attending with her – to the Paramore show nearby. My daughter loves their music, learned much of it on acoustic guitar. (Who am I kidding, she knows the newest record backward and forward) So seeing them live just bowled her over. Then she saw, under the tickets…the broken record.
I don’t often see her glassy-eyed, nearly crying. She’d had wonderful presents already. This just capped it all.
“Thank you Dad,” she said. When I called, using the same FaceTime she talks to her friends with, she was happy as a clam.
Hannah was joined at the hip with her mother, so I always worried about how she’d handle life without her Mom. She’s moody, grumpy at times, can argue with her brothers and throws me attitude. She’s a teenager, that’s her job.
But when I surprise her and see not just the tears but the love, knowing that I was listening when she thought I wasn’t…I see the joy in her eyes. People wonder how we can survive with only one parent? This…this is how.