Sunday, April 11, 2010


(Note: This was originally posted at the HennHouse in March...)

Dads and daughters...

That is such a loaded phrase. For some, with nostalgia, emotion, happiness. For others, regret, anger, loss. But there is no mistaking it, dads and daughters have special relationships. Different than moms and daughters. Or dads and sons. Those are great relationships, too. But dads and daughters? Special. Very special.

We had been home from the hospital for two weeks. She was recovering nicely, but I felt like she needed to be pushed. Prodded. Encouraged. To get back into some of the things that she seemed reluctant to do. She lost a lot of weight and strength while she was hospitalized. I wanted her to get some back. So, I pushed her to keep trying. And honestly, she was doing great. But the one obstacle was the braces. The waistband for the twister cables sits right on two of her incision sites. She had them on at the hospital before the final surgery and it hurt. A lot. She was more than reluctant to try again.

Two weeks after her third surgery, I implored her to put them on. Just to try. She was adamant that it wasn't going to happen. She can be a very persuasive child. So, she does what she does when she doesn't want to do what I'm suggesting. She negotiates. Girl can hold her own. Let me give you an example:

Me: "Esther-Faith, would you like to have broccoli or green beans for dinner?"

Esther-Faith: "I think I'm going to have itty-bitty marshmallows."

Me: "Esther-Faith, would you like to have broccoli or green beans for dinner?"

Esther-Faith: "I think I'm going to have applesauce."

Me: "Esther-Faith, would you like to have broccoli or green beans for dinner?"

Esther-Faith: "I think I'm going to have tomato soup."

Ad infinitum.

As it turns out, she lost NONE of her negotiation skills while hospitalized.

But neither did her Mama.

So, on February 19, we compromised. After the back and forth of the "would you like to's" and the "I think I'm going to's," we came to the compromise that she would put her braces on when daddy got home from work. Only if she could get into the learning tower.

I texted him that I thought I was losing the battle. That I wasn't sure she would ever want to put them on again. I told him of our compromise. He loved it. Daddy as the reward.

Daddy got home from work, changed his clothes, and HE started to try to negotiate. Knowing that it was already determined that she WOULD put them on, he switched tactics and asked if she wanted to sit or stand while wearing the braces. She ignored the question instead saying, "I think I'll use my wheelchair." And round and round it went until we convinced her to try.

Once in her braces, it was if she had lost no time. She wandered the house, chasing the cat, emptying shelves, reaching for things on the counter. Climbing, falling, standing, walking.

It was a beautiful sight. There were many tears at the HennHouse. I took her picture and texted it to Kate and my mom and a couple of friends and anyone who I thought would appreciate the accomplishment as much as I did.

Then she did that thing she does with Tim. I would call it batting her eyelashes, but she doesn't really do that. It is more of a WAY she asks him something. And he really can't say no. EVER. If she wanted to paint the ceiling pink and she asked him the right way, he would find a way to convince me to paint the ceiling pink.

But that day, she walked over to him in her braces and simply asked him to dance. I'm not sure a whole second of time passed before they were out on the "dance floor" grooving to Mahalia Jackson. She would instruct him to tip from side to side, and he would do it. She would instruct him to jump, and he would do it. She would instruct him to swing her around, and he would do it. Song after song played, and they danced the night away.

At one point, she set one of her little feet onto Tim's toes, and she stepped her other foot onto his other toes. My memory flashed decades back to when I used to dance with my dad the same way. I looked at Tim's face. And he was happy. Truly happy. He laughed. She giggled. They danced.

It was one of those moments that I'm sure will be seared into my memory for a very long time.

Tim is a smart person. It wasn't lost on him what was happening. She was holding onto him, not the wall or her walker or a chair. Him. So, he started to let her hands go. One at a time. They would scream "TA-DA!" and then he would grab her hand again. She was so into the music and the dancing that eventually, when he let go of both of her hands, she didn't realize it right away. She just danced. It was truly amazing. He stepped back and let her dance. She lost her balance a little bit and reached for him--almost taking a step toward him in the process.

Watching your kids take their first steps is one of those iconic moments in parenting. The toddling and falling. But we haven't had that moment with any of our kids. It was emotional the first time she walked with her walker. And the first time she walked holding onto us. But holding onto nothing? It hasn't happened yet. That night, though, I could finally see what Kate saw in her dream. That she WILL do it someday. She will take those unassisted steps. And I will look on through the tears that represent all that she has been through. And all the anticipation in the years of waiting.


Scasmflops said...

This is a beautiful story

Gretchen said...

Wonderful ... thanks for sharing :)

HennHouse said...

Thank you both... We're still waiting for that first step, but I know it will come at JUST the right time!