My daughter turned 19 years old today.
I'm not going to sit here and lament how old that makes me feel. You all know how old I am, and so do I. On the inside I'm still somewhere between 12 and 25.
Still. There's no need to lament. After all, I've been blessed to know what it means to be a father, and even better than that, to be a dad to three completely wonderful children. It's an immeasurable privilege that I thank God for.
There's something magical about a little girl, though. Or maybe it's hypnotic. Whatever the case may be, it drew me in from the very start and I don't suppose I'll know the end of it on this earth. She is the first person I've ever known since day one. Being the youngest in my family, I never had a younger sibling so this, in and of itself, was amazing to me. But being her dad is still amazing to me. Oh the things you can learn from a girl!
I learned how to sing soft lullabys. I learned how to rock us to sleep. I learned how to kiss a new way. I learned what it means to protect. I learned how to walk slowly, watching for big cracks in the sidewalk. I learned how to talk to a teddy bear. I learned how to listen to one too. I learned the warm feeling of girl tears on my cheek. I learned how to wave goodbye. I learned how to blow a kiss. I learned how to twirl arm in arm. I learned to kneel down while picking dandelions. I learned how to giggle. I learned to tell good bedtime stories. I learned how to be tickled. I learned how to sing into my hairbrush. I learned the good flavors of lip balm. I learned to love the sound of deep sleep. I learned that ears make great handles on shoulder rides. I learned that dreaming is the best part of living. I learned that "I'm sorry" needs to be real. I learned that "I love you" is best said softly and lived loudly. I learned that words can break your heart. I learned that patty cake is more complicated than baseball. I learned that girls can be studs too. I learned that I will never be done learning about my girl. I learned that being "dad" is the greatest honor I will ever have.
If I can grow up to be like her, I'll be happy.