Sylvia and I were married for 9 years before we had our first child. Megan was the answer to many of our prayers. She came into this world as the most absolutely beautiful baby ever born and soon became the smartest and quickest and friendliest child that ever lived. Trust me on this one – it’s all true. Once she started school she became the light of her teacher’s eye and the best friend to the kids in her class. She excelled in all subjects and with all people. She is truly that remarkable and beautiful and darn near as close to perfect as young lady can be. It seems that only yesterday I watched in absolute awe as Megan came into my world and nothing had been the same for me sense. My little girl quickly became the focal point of my world and when her brother and little sister came along I knew that there truly was a much higher purpose than me. These precious little souls are the greatest gift ever given. And my Megan started this incredible journey for me. It is a journey that gets better every day.
It seems like only yesterday when Megan said her first word….yes, it was Daddy!! That is a fact that I keep alive and well in our household much to her Mother’s chagrin. From the day Megan was born her mom and I told her she was special and that we loved her. Throughout the day her Mom and I would love on her and hold her and we also took great care to tell her we loved her as often as possible. This is a practice that has carried on to this day. Megan hears that she is loved at least 6-10 times every day. She has heard that since the day she was born. I am pretty confident she believes it by now.
It seems like only yesterday when Megan took her first steps…yes, she turned loose of the coffee table and waddled into the arms of her Daddy!! Again, chagrins and all. From the moment Meg started walking we cheered for her and told her how graceful she was and when walking turned into running we constantly praised her athletic abilities. And from that first step we began teaching Meg that there were places she could go with her newfound freedom and there were places she should not. A toddler should never venture into a bathroom or pool area or outside alone. A child should never venture away from home alone. A teen should never be in a place where drugs are used or alcohol is a focal point. We cheered Megan’s mobility as we began teaching her boundaries.
It seems like only yesterday when Megan started school. Her Mom and I stood outside her kindergarten class as she excitedly began her academic life. When we first took her into that big and foreign room there were tears and a little bit of screaming but after 15 minutes or so I was able to calm Momma down and peel her away from Meg’s desk. From the moment Megan began school we told her that she was friendship worthy and deserved great friends. We also taught her that friendship meant sharing and talking nice and never, never, never being ugly or bullying towards other kids. Megan has a genuinely sweet spirit and I will never forget her 3rd grade teacher telling me how Megan always went into the cafeteria at lunch time and if she saw someone sitting alone or not talking she sat next to that person and that was her friend for lunch. Megan really is that special.
It seems like only yesterday that Megan started middle school and her childhood beauty began transforming into the beauty of a young lady. After making sure that all of the boys in her class fully understood that I am a very large man and a former college defensive lineman and that going to prison to protect my daughter’s honor was not a problem for me, Sylvia and I decided to foment expectations. We have rules in our home that boys open the doors for girls, that’s not sexist it is polite. We have rules that there are topics of conversation that Meg’s little brother can have with me but they are off limits for his sisters. We have rules that when a boy and girl arrive at a place at the same time the girl goes first. Again, that’s not sexist it is polite. We have a rule that if a girl is carrying something that the boy will offer to help, again – polite and all.
With Meg’s rapidly approaching womanhood my wife had the wonderful idea that we needed to take it a step farther and incorporate a Daddy/Daughter date night. Hey, I’m game! An evening on the town with my precious little girl? Awesome! But we took it a step farther. My wife and I talked about it and decided that I would over-emphasize the door opening, and lady first, and appropriate topics of conversation and would explain why at each step. Then I would remind Meg how loved she is and how precious she is and how she is a lady and she deserves to be treated as a lady and as special and as loved and then I showed her what that meant by opening her door and pulling out her chair and deferring to her to walk first. I told her over and over that any boy that ever wanted to be close to her should meet these lofty standards or else he wasn’t good enough for her. And yes, I mean every word of that.
It seems like only yesterday when a boy developed a hard crush on Megan. He followed her around and wrote her notes and called her. He showed up at her school activities and told everyone that she was his girl. Megan came to me and told me that she had asked him to calm it down and that she just wanted to be friends but he wouldn’t relent. She asked me to help. After plotting burial locations I went to the boy’s home and talked face to face with his father. My first thought was to, well – let’s not go there. Instead, I reminded myself that this was the Daddy of a young teen who probably thought his little boy was the best thing since sliced bread. I explained what was happening and that Meg just wanted to be friends and that I needed his help with proper boundaries. He agreed. I also talked to Meg’s teacher and asked her to keep an eye on the situation just to make sure everything was ok. Then, I made sure my little girl knew that she did the right thing by talking to her Daddy and that her Daddy would always be there if and when she needed him. I talked to her and told her that there is no problem that exists that is greater or bigger than the love her mom and I have for her. And then I explained how I backed those words up with actions and showed her that I meant what I said.
It seems like only yesterday when Megan started driving and she began spreading her independent wings. I have spent much time in prayer for her safety and I am constantly checking her tire pressure and oil pressure and reminding her that texting and driving will result in her car being sold and her not driving again until she is 41. It seems like only yesterday when I got the scariest call of my life and my little 16 year old girl was driving herself to volleyball practice when another girl who was texting crashed into her totaling our Expedition (a large SUV that is hard to total). I will never forget the fear in her voice when she called me and cried, “Daddy, I just had a bad wreck”. I don’t remember my feet hitting the ground as I ran to my car to get to her. My wife’s brand new Expedition was bent in half and straddling the curb with broken glass and parts everywhere but the only thing I remember seeing as I pulled up was my little girl standing on the curb crying. I ran through the intersection to get to her and comfort her and make sure she was OK. I made sure she knew that the car was very secondary to her being ok. I aged 10 years that morning.
It seems like yesterday when my little girl sat for the ACTs and SATs and scored so high that she has colleges chasing her. I check the mail every day and cringe when I see a letter from a school that is more than a couple of hours drive away. I listen to her talk excitedly about going to college soon and I can hear the countdown of her last year at home beating like a drum in my head. It seems like only yesterday I walked her to her first desk and helped her put her crayons in the box.
...my beautiful Megan got dressed up in the second prettiest dress I have ever seen. Her Momma spent an hour on her hair and they got a manicure and pedicure and she put on beautiful silver sequined shoes and the doorbell rang and her first date was at my door, corsage in hand, to take her to the junior/senior social – the prom. Yesterday my little girl walked through the door and it wasn’t my hand she was holding. Yesterday my little girl got into the car and it wasn’t Daddy driving. Yesterday my little girl sat and ate and talked and walked and laughed with another, not me.
As I watched Megan leave I was thrilled and excited for her and believe it or not, I wasn’t even worried. Megan has heard that she is loved and she is valuable her whole life. Her self-concept does not and will not depend on a boy for fulfillment. Megan has been treated like a lady and has been taught that any young man worthy of her company will do the same. She has been taught to expect it and accept nothing less. Megan has been taught how to act like a lady in word, in action, and in beauty of spirit and how to reach out to her Mom and I should she need us.
Yesterday my little girl spread her independent wings a little further. I wasn’t sad or scared or even worried. Every step of Megan’s life has been a journey that I have been blessed to be a part of and I can’t wait for the next step. Megan is Megan. She is a self confident, self assured, kind-hearted, intelligent, beautiful young lady who knows exactly who she is, how she should be treated, and what to do when things go right and what to do when things go wrong. And none of that is by accident.
Yesterday came and went so fast, thank God Megan is Megan….