Friday, October 31, 2008

Thank Heaven . . .

We brought her home from the hospital Nov. 8, 1988. It was Election Day and that night George H.W. Bush would be elected President of the United States. (Who did he run against again?)

This coming Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, another Election Day, is her 20th birthday. She came home from college last weekend to do early voting in her first presidential election.

I speak of my lovely daughter, a sweet, sweet little ray of sunshine squeezed between two rough-and-tumble boys, and one of the nicest gifts I have ever received. Even though we could have known her gender prior to her birth, we chose not to, which made it all the more sweet when we learned some of the blue in the nursery would have to be painted pink.

She had my number from the very start. Any attempt at discipline was totally useless (since she was perfect in my eyes) so that had to be quickly assigned to her mother.

As a toddler we would dance to show tunes, the most memorable being "Beauty and the Beast."

"We'll dance to that at my wedding one day, Daddy," she once told me. ("Not if I have anything to say about it," I would think to myself. "Why would you ever want to leave me for another man?")

She was a nurturer from an early age, which still shows as she makes plans to be an elementary school teacher. She got her start at age 4 when we brought home her little brother. She already had a doll family and it was easy enough to add him to the group. And I might add that she has kept a watchful eye on him ever since.

As she grew into adolescence her leadership skills became evident. When she told me she wanted to run for class office before her sophomore year in high school, I encouraged her but told her to just do her best and not worry about winning or losing. She never had to worry about that because sophomore, junior and senior years, she never lost. She served her classes with distinction.

When she gave her high school commencement address, I was a nervous wreck, having given her a few pointers and listened to her rehearse. If she was nervous at all, though, she did not show it. I think it was right then, when she left the podium after her speech, full of poise and confidence, that I realized she had truly grown her wings and would soon spread them whether I liked it or not. It was reality-check time.

Three months later when we took her to college, her mother had to finally put me in the car and drive me away as I watched through a window into the stairwell of the dorm as my baby climbed those stairs to indendence. I will never forget that image of her, nor will I forget that a couple of hours earlier as I continued to give her last-minute instructions, she had told me she would really appreciate it if I would not make a scene when it was time for me to go. Well I did not make much of one.

Today, a sophomore in college and within days of being twenty years old, she is as sweet as ever and she continues to hold me in the palm of her hand. We talk often and she exuberantly tells me all that is going on in her life. She always has time for me.

She loves college and has blossomed there even more. Silly, unworthy boys seem to be giving her a lot of attention these days and I do not envy the one who one day will dare to ask to take her on a permanent basis. That will not be an easy test to pass.

Who could forget Maurice Chavalier's classic "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" which had to have been written on behalf of doting daddies everywhere?

"Each time I see a little girl,
Of five, or six, or seven,
I can't resist a joyous urge,
To smile and say:

Thank heaven, for little girls,
for little girls get bigger every day!

Thank heaven, for little girls,
they grow up in the most delightful way!

Those little eyes so helpless and appealing,
one day will flash, and send you crashin' thru the ceilin'!

Thank heaven, for little girls,
thank heaven for them all,
no matter where, no matter who,
for without them, what would little boys do?

Thank heaven,
Thank heaven,
Thank heaven, for little girls!"

Thank Heaven, indeed.

Happy Birthday Sweetie! Come home soon!


Redlefty said...

How sweet! Mine's only five and I'm trying to be fully present in every available moment.

So who'd she vote for? ;)

Kelly said...

Awwww Bob, this is a beautiful tribute to your beautiful daughter!! I know you're proud of the lovely young woman she's grown to be.

My own memory of that particular election day was learning for certain that we'd be adding another chick to our nest the following summer.

Pam said...

MAJOR Awwwwwwwwww factor here, Bob!! I nearly teared up! Wonderful tribute to your daughter.

I'll bet she saves this post!

Hal Johnson said...

Great one, Bob. While my only child is a boy, most of my friends have had girls, and I've learned over the years that a four year-old girl can steal a grown man's heart in a flash.

Debby said...

Oh, Bob, how very nice. You and Hal both put the tears in my eyes tonight. I think that it is lovely that you adore your daughter. The fact that you say it out loud, unabashedly, for her to hear is the greatest gift you can give that girl. My youngest is also voting for the first time. She will be coming home from college as well. She is also blooming in college. She is devoted to her history. She wanted to take a class with a specific professor known for his ability to bring history to life. This next semester is his last. His class was filled. A professor that she has now was so impressed with her that he did something that he's never done before: He spoke with the other professor on behalf of a freshman. She was shocked to be contacted that the professor had opened his class to one more. Cara.

quid said...

Wonderful post... my own baby girl turned 27 a couple of weeks ago. At her age, I was giving birth to her. She's had a much longer span time in finding herself, but, despite the spins and forks in the road, I marvel at her strength, audacity and big heart.


Bob said...

Sounds like that baby girl of yours is really special, Quid.

Andrew said...

Excellent post! My daughter is 10 and the years are going by so fast. Best birthday wishes to your daughter!