Fatherhood has been very rewarding to me over the years. I have four great kids: a 20 year old son, a 19 year old daughter, a 17 year old daughter, and a 15 year old son. Over the course of my writing, I have easily made reference to any one of these four great kids. After all, parenting is like being on a roller coaster. Sometimes, it’s a great thrill. Sometimes, it gets a bit scary. Every once in a while you may even get nauseous from the experience. But at the end of the day, I can remember it was an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
For this writing, I am going to focus on my baby girl, 17 year old Brianna. Brianna and I have been through some exciting twists and turns on the metaphorical roller coaster. When she was barely a year old, she had surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids. She was just getting the hang of walking. I can close my eyes and still envision the event as clear as day. We took Brianna out of her hospital room and spent some time together in the solarium. Her mother would coordinate the IV tubing and pole while Brianna would take a few steps and stumble. She would then giggle and get back up again. After a few of these dry runs, I went across the room and knelt on the floor. Brianna gave me her bright babyish smile. She took very slow, deliberate steps across the room. With every step, her smile got bigger. She never stumbled once. She walked all the way across the room and into my arms.
Over the years since that event, I have seen Brianna go through a variety of changes. I have seen her go from being a mother to more than 20 dolls (that was a VERY lucrative Christmas for her) to a young lady who beams when she speaks about the 5th graders she got to interact with during an internship recently. I have seen her transition from a little girl learning her ABC’s to a high school senior planning toward a career in Elementary Education. One day, I was looking at a little girl singing in her school choir. I blinked my eyes and I heard the angelic voice of a 17 year old girl singing songs around the house. She has gone from a little girl who thought her Daddy hung the moon to a girl who is quick to assert that my essays are “SO dry”.
I spoke to a friend from high school recently and we were discussing the ages of our kids. I told him my “baby” is 15 years old. He told me his youngest is 8 years old and added “I can still swing her around.” Given the ages of my kids, if I tried to swing any of them, it would surely result in injury. I now get to add the experience of watching my daughter walk across a stage and accept her high school diploma. In accepting the diploma, she leaves behind 12 years of being a student. In the fall, she will prepare for more education so that she may become a teacher. She is no longer a little girl. But, she will always be my baby girl. I will always be the proud father who will gladly accept her into my arms.
Brianna, it has been a great roller coaster ride with you thus far. In the future, we will sometimes ride together. I may even want to insist on riding with you from time to time. Other times, you will not only ride without me but I won’t even be in the park with you. The ride will sometimes be scary, bumpy, or may even induce nausea. You’ll have to get off the ride, shake it off, and get back in line. In the end, you will have had an experience that no one can take from you. I love you very much and you make my heart swell with loving pride. Thanks for riding with me.