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October 7, 2015


They were the first thing we noticed about her after she was born. They were the first thing I reached for after holding her in my arms, feeling each of her tiny fingers fold themselves around one of my own. Over the last four years, I’ve caught myself numerous times watching her hands. I watch her play with her toys and color with crayons, I watch her tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear and hold the hem of her dress just before she curtsies. I watch her and wonder what she’ll make with those hands of hers.

I remember the uncoordinated movements they made when she was first discovering them, jerky and sudden, and I remember the joy she found when she figured out how to use them. I remember them helping her balance as she crawled and I remember when she held a bottle for the first time. I remember when she gripped and used a spoon successfully and I remember the excitement she had after her mother painted her nails. I remember the first time she reached for my hand unprompted, squeezing slightly so I would squeeze back.

She’s tall enough now she can wash them on her own. She pumps soap into her palm (probably more than necessary, but better safe than sorry) and she rubs her hands together rinsing and drying them. She prefers to have them clean, a trait she more than likely inherited from me. Rarely, will she allow them to be dirty for more than a few seconds… sometimes stopping mid meal to wipe them or wash them again entirely.

There was a day months ago, she helped her mother plant flowers in a bed that lines our backyard. She let the soil separate around her tiny fingers and when she pulled her hands out of the Earth, the freckle in the bend of her left ring finger was covered. She walked over to me and I knew immediately she would request to wash them, but instead she wiped them on my pants. At first, I stepped back in shock trying to swallow the bitter taste of her actions but then I saw her smile.

I could wash my pants and the dirt would disappear and worst case if it didn’t, I could always get another pair. It was her way of sharing with me what she just created. It was her way of getting her hands dirty and bringing them back to show and tell. It was her way to stretch and feel her comfort zone stretch with her and it was her way of providing proof by leaving trails down the front of my legs. She smiled and I smiled back.

Shortly after, we washed those hands. We let the water run over her knuckles and under her nails and we had bubbles up to her elbows until they were clean again. We sat down at the table that night and I watched her weave her fingers together, bow her head and bless our meal. I caught myself watching her hands again wondering what they’ll create next, wondering when they’ll reach for my own again. I wondered what the outcome would be when she allowed them to get dirty once more and how much pride she would find digging deep within to do so. I can't wait to see.

September 30, 2015


I wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn’t. Every jerk of the shaky mechanics around us forced me to hold her hand tighter than was probably necessary and while I wanted nothing more to get off the Ferris wheel, I knew how much she wanted to be on it so I swallowed my stomach that had moved into my throat and forced a smile until it was over. 

“We can see the whole world from up here!” she said, her messy bun bounced as she spoke.

A statement that seemed exaggerated, but was really the truth in that moment… I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was so excited and happy and mesmerized by riding the main ride she was too short for the last two years that when she stepped up to the picture measuring her height and realized she met the requirement, she personified joy.

We stepped out of the bucket once the ride was over and she met back up with her friends, the children of our friends, and we tackled the fair one ride at a time. They ran ahead throwing laughs behind them and they played a game where they plucked a duck to win a prize and they tucked away bags of cotton candy for later. 

The forecast called for showers all day, but Mother Nature was exceptionally kind to us that evening. Although we came prepared in our rain boots and umbrellas, the rain stopped and started in perfect time for us to collect a few hours of fun under a gray sky. We couldn’t let the fair come to town without stopping by just like we can’t deny... rain or shine... how fast she’s growing up on us.


Read about our previous trips to the fair:  My Fair Lady, Fair Game.

September 23, 2015


She brought them with her, the stuffed animals that keep her company, and she climbed in my lap. She rested her head on my chest and she timed her inhales with my own. We sat there just the two of us having an entire conversation without saying a word and we laughed and cried without moving our faces. These are the moments I live for, the moments when simply being together is all that matters.

One day, I won’t be the hero she makes me out to be. I won’t be the strongest man in the world or make the finest pot of pretend tea. I won’t be her favorite person or the best dance partner or able to fix whatever she finds broken. One day, I won’t be on the receiving end of her numerous proposals or the prince to her princess, the Kristoff to her Anna, the Eric to her Ariel, the Charming to her Cinderella… but I’ll always be her father.

Several nights ago she woke up crying, I ran into her room and hugged her and begged to know what was wrong. “You left me and never came back,” she said between sobs. Ever since that nightmare she’s requested extra cuddles and my heart swells and breaks with every beat. All the advice and books yet nothing prepares you for the real world of fatherhood, of parenting, when they just want to be held and when you refuse to let go.

Most days, I have to admit I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to parenting. I wrap my arms around her at every opportunity, I try to answer every question she throws my way, and I inherit her interests as my own. There isn’t a manual despite those who think they’ve written one. There are, however, plenty of conversations both silent and spoken with stuffed animals present for most and there’s love… there’s a whole lot of that. I suppose in the end, that’s all that matters.

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