Daughters… I have to say that I actually fail to stop and really look at them sometimes. Foolish, but true. Della is the one on the left and Halen is on the right. In this picture Della is 10 and Halen is 8. What great ages. What great stages. What Divine opportunity has been given to me to be a father to not one but two extraordinary young ladies. They actually like being with me, which is a huge cosmic act of mercy – really. My daughters actually want to just hang out with their parents. I am a notorious wet blanket – a Mr. Serious, but they bring out the devil in me. I’m constantly teasing them. I try really hard to listen to them. (It may be just me but I find it takes a concerted effort to give a child my undivided attention. I can actually feel my brain exhale afterwards.) And reading to them? Reading is the one thing I do consistently well with my girls, or “The Ladies” as I often call them. This term of endearment took on a whole new meaning when we read Peter and the Star Catchers together for the first time. The villain of the story has a special set of sails he calls “the Ladies.” The girls and I never laughed so joyously and harmoniously as when we read that book together. It is a prequel to Peter Pan. It is written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and is a worthwhile and memorable read. Best of all the two writers follow it up with two great sequels.
Anyway, the ladies and I love to read together. They like for me to read aloud because I – the wet blanket – do all of the voices. We just finished reading City of Ember and People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau. Next comes the third book in the series: The Prophet of Yonwood, but I informed the family that I needed to take a break from DuPrau. We are now reading Inkspell by Cornelia Funke. So, obviously we place some importance on literature. Really though, it is the time together. When they were smaller we would cuddle up on the bottom bunk and bask in the peace and tranquility of story time. Heaven itself would be hard pressed to replace this sacred hour of meditation. Our all time favorite picture book is The Last Resort by Roberto Innocenti. We would often end the day with this beautifully written piece of imaginative, romantic fiction/poetry. It’s voices are a joy to read.
Still, our time together is not always sweet. It is sometimes very bitter, but not because of them, but because of myself. As an adult There are times when I fail to find the patience and understanding I require, and so I find myself raising my voice and barking at them, or just being ultra critical of them. We recover from this because I’m not too proud to admit when I’m wrong, but mostly because they love me. I of course love them, but I find the love of a child is often purer and freer of conditions, and so I learn from them. When I consider their love I describe it thus: Light is the quietest force in the universe, yet in silence it warms, nourishes, gives life, fights back the darkness and brings hope to each dawning as a living symbol – a force for hope. Such is our love to me.
So, I’m writing this post because the ladies are growing so fast. We are celebrating Della’s 11th birthday this next weekend. But, I am not afraid. I once was, for every parent warned me to enjoy them – the innocent years – while they lasted because they would be over soon, and you know what comes next: the teens! Well, my answer to this warning is this: When I consider the future and what it may hold for my daughters I wrestle with the endless worrisome possibilities like any parent, and sometimes they get the better of Mr. Serious, and my blanket becomes very wet indeed. However, I find the more I practice the exercize of giving my girls my undivided attention: looking at them, listening to them and holding them until nothing else exist but the idea of us, the surer their steps become, and so I can look into the dark unknown and know it will not survive the dawning, and my soul exhales.