I will always be five steps behind.

“Daddy, I want to drive one of those…”

A motorcycle drove by…weaving in and out of the morning traffic.

“Why? Don’t you want to drive a car when you get older?”

“Look…no traffic for me. I will just drive down the middle.”

My mind looked into the future…my daughter would be an 18 year old motorcycle rider. She puts on her pink helmet and hops on her her pink motorcycle. I think of danger…and how unsafe it could be.

“No baby, cars are nice…cause all your friends can ride with you. You can listen to your music..its fun.”

She thought about it.

“No, I want one of those.”

We parked and began our walk to her classroom door. She wanted to race me. She ran ahead and I stopped.

“Baby..stop. Please be careful.”

We walked into her classroom and I watched her walk in. I started to walk away but stopped and turned around to look through the window. And checked on her one more time, she was sitting in her seat looking right at me through the window. She waved at me. I waved back. She knew that I would come back to look at her in the window. She expects that from me. She knows that I will always be watching her and making sure she is ok.

I thought about it on the way to my usual location. How many times do I say these phrases a day?

“Be careful baby….”

“Are you ok baby? What’s wrong baby?”

I remember when she was only a month old, my wife and I had to take her in to get a check-up. The man in the white coat said, “Ok, she needs to get a few shots today.”

“How many?”

He said, “Three…”

My wife and I looked at each other. “Three? That’s a lot…does that need to happen now?”

The doctor gave her the first shot underneath her foot…my little one yelped in pain and started to cry. My wife started to comfort her. The crying stopped. And then the second shot came….my little one screamed again.

“This is too much….three shots is too much.” My eyes began to water. “She is in pain…that’s enough.”

My words fell on deaf ears. The doctor was getting ready for the final shot. My daughter cried again and looked into her mother’s eyes.

“Ok…ok baby. It’s done. You are so strong…you are so strong.” The little one stopped crying.

It was too hard for me to take. I could not stand to see her in pain. And I knew I would always be hovering over her….I would always be five steps behind. And as she grew older, it continued. At every park and playground we visited, I was five steps behind her making sure she was safe on the playground…making sure she wouldn’t fall. It explains my resistance on certain issues. Sleeping in her own room? I am not ready for that. She is ready….and has been ready. But, I like the fact that I can wake up in the middle of the night and take five steps to her bed next to us and make sure she is ok.

Growing up is inevitable…I can’t stop her from growing up. She will be seven this year. And years after that she will be a teenager. And one day she will be married and I will watch her walk down the aisle. And hopefully, she will turn and look at us sitting there and watching her..making sure she is safe…and wave. Just like she did to me this morning.

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