The Care And Keeping Of You
Prior to Wendy and I becoming parents there was one thing that we had not given thought to as parents, protecting our child from pain. I am not talking about the “fell off the bike” pain or “the neighborhood kid punched me” pain. During a visit to the ER, we saw a father carrying his small child past our trauma area. She was limp, hopefully just very sleepy. The doctor was making his way from room to room and had left our room to go the next room which is where the little girls was. I am sure, just as with us, there were a lot of questions to find out what was wrong with the little girl. And then we heard it, the blood curdling screams. I looked at Wendy as said, “they must be trying to get blood from her.” We cringed with every scream and our hearts soon sobbed with her cries. But at that moment yet, we were still just thinking “that poor little girl.”
Then it hit us. It REALLY hit us. The child’s screams and cries suddenly changed from random and numerous, to focused, emphatic, and demanding. “DAAADDDDDYYY!! THEY’RE HURTING MEEEE!!!” Two different feelings were occuring in me at that moment. First, I know how I would react, Wendy as well, if anyone were to inflict pain on our children. But the second, she had to have been watching her dad stand there, not doing anything while the tech stabbed her with the syringe. She all but accused him of letting the tech hurt her. This was one thing as a parent, neither Wendy or I had given any thought to.
But there are several difficult things that I have anticipated being a father to two girls. Changing diapers was a piece of cake. Rocking the girls to sleep? I miss that horribly. Boyfriends. The change.
So I am sitting at the kids’ karate class with other parents and Madison sits down next to me. She starts scratching her legs like she is some sort of scratch-off lottery ticket. I asked what was the matter thinking maybe we were using a different detergent, maybe the sweat was getting to her? She blurts out, “it’s the hair on my legs! I have hair on my legs!” I could not reach my ears with my fingers quick enough to plug my ears and do the “la la la la la la la” thing. I know what I heard.
A parent sitting next to me said, “you know Paul, she is nine.” And I looked at her ready to give her the Nobel Obvious Award and quickly responded, “yeah? so what does that have to do with anything?” Denise responded, “girls, anywhere between nine and twelve… you have to prepare her.” I had no idea what she was tallking about. I knew growing hair was a sign that she was getting older, but I honestly did not put everything together to realize the bigger picture.
Evidently my confusion was showing. Denise continued, “The Care And Keeping Of You…” Taking care of me? I had no idea what she was talking about. “It’s a book. You need to read it with her.”
About a week later I was at the hospital for a couple of my appointments. In between appointments, I will do one of two things, visit the Barnes & Noble around the corner from the hospital, or grab something to eat. This day I had a little more time in between appointments so I managed to do both. Barnes & Noble had the book, it was from The American Girl Doll series. So I bought that and a couple of other books for both daughters and headed off for lunch.
I usually eat at the same place every time I am in Manhattan, and I am usually in an out within approximately twenty-five minutes. But today, the service was a little slow. As I waited for the waitress, I figured I would take a quick look at the book I needed to read with my daughter. The first several pages were harmless, talked about changes, emotional, hair growth. Okay, time was running out, so I skim to a little more than half-way through the book. Breast development? Quickly, flip away, backwards! No, I flip forward a few pages. Inserting a tampon?!? With pictures? What the Hell?!? I was no longer safe flipping backward as I was too far into the book, and I was more afraid to turn any further ahead. I could do only one thing, and that was look up and away. And there she was, the waitress looking down at me with some questionable look of disgust.
I tried to assure her, “it’s not what it looks like.” What I thought was taking a lot longer for lunch, soon became true fast food. I put the book back in my backpack, finished up my lunch without looking back up from the table, and went to my final appointment.
I arrived back home, handed the book to my wife. I told her the book started off great, and good luck from there. I am not about to talk tampons with my daughter. Having been raised in a house full of women, I would think that I would handle this better.