I can’t believe that my daughter is nearly a month into first grade.
It seems like only yesterday that together we took a walk to her future elementary school. She was only three years old then. She sported a Tinker Bell hat atop her head and wore a Cookie Monster backpack – practice for ‘when she got bigger.’ We watched the children during recess as they ran across the school grounds; I watched her watching them, admiring the glow her wide eyes cast. “You’ll be there one day,” I whispered. “You’ll be on the other side of that fence.” A smile swallowed her face whole and she laughed deliriously. I’ll never forget that day. Funny; certain little things come your way in life that you’d never expect to encounter but once they do, you know enough to seize them. You know enough to store them away. Somewhere safe, where they can last forever.
Athena is six now. If you have followed my blog for any length of time then you’ll know I write of her often. She never ceases to inspire me. To teach. She was born with a deletion of her chromosome seven – the punch list of its effects reads like a horror story. But with extensive therapies, she has nearly overcome it all. She does everything full steam ahead. The little things do not escape her.
But first grade has been a big adjustment for her. Children are expected to be more independent within the classroom. Their workload has increased considerably – I joke that the homework she comes home with is now my homework as well. Unfortunately, there have already been a few days where the struggle has been considerable and she’s broken out in tears.
And yet she smiles through it all and plows forward. She smiles and it swallows her face whole, and her eyes dance with a glow unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I can’t help but realize she’s on the other side of that fence now – in life, in all things.
Already, she has learned to capture every little thing. Including me.
you grow before my eyes and
the feel of your hand in mine as I walk you to school
stills my restless demons;
I am far from a perfect man but
I live to be flawless in your eyes.
Every kiss you bless upon my cheek
reminds me that while I am responsible
for protecting your life,
you have saved mine.
Sometimes I see glimpses
of the woman you will grow to be and
your subtle grace melts me.
Please know that being your father
is my greatest achievement and honor;
with the very first flutter of your eyes
I became yours to keep
I need to listen closely—
the pain you share
should be sharp yet
comes delivered dull, spoken
at the price of a worn tongue;
how it rends me to hear you
recall the worst of all you have been;
I sit quietly
listening to your soft grace
betrayed by the broken
fragments of your words:
I can’t ever glue you back together
but I can hold you in my hands.
Man of Steel
why won’t you come down from
your perch high above Metropolis
I have desperately tried to fly in your cape
but you left me no field guide and
in this world I need to be more than just
Do you remember when
I gazed upon you with wonder
an unflinching conviction that you were no
Please can’t you see
how hard I struggle to soar and
I’ve no currents with which to take flight—
And from my booth I dash
carrying this child in my arms
shielding her from life’s evils, forever
to the skies I search in vain
I had the opportunity to chaperone my daughter’s kindergarten class trip last week.
We visited World of Wings, a great facility featuring a butterfly atrium, rooms filled with creepy-crawly bugs and slithering reptiles (inside their holding tanks, of course), and a whole host of other fun exhibits. But the single attraction that stole the show by unanimous kid-vote was the bouncy house!! Butterflies flitting above their heads and Horned Bearded Dragons be darned, nothing could compare to the awesome allure of that bouncy house…
Naturally, I loved every minute of it. I loved being part of my daughter’s day, watching her interact with her young friends, seeing the sheer joy of discovery and rampaging fun on her face. I loved listening to her laugh; I loved seeing the curiosity that filled her innocent eyes. And yes, I loved watching her run amok with a whole horde of crazed, gleeful kids inside the irresistible bouncy house.
Just like those magnificent butterflies, my daughter spreads her wings a bit more every day. For someone who conjures and writes tales of the gruesome and horrible all of the time, it’s simply the most beautiful of wonders to see.