Friday, August 24, 2007

She's Got My Back

One thing I love about being a dad is those moments when one of my girls does something that catches me totally off guard, leaving me speechless and breathing deeply for fear that I might lose it right in front of them.

At the beginning of the school year I established a morning routine where, after either gently or rudely awakening the girls from their peaceful slumbers, I would give them piggy back rides to the family room while they picked the crusties out of the corners of their eyes. I have spoiled the girls with piggy back rides and the girls have come to expect them. Imagine their disappointment when, a couple of weeks ago, I woke up and could hardly get out of bed due to pain in my lower back. I am no stranger to lower back pain. It comes and goes in phases, and I can usually work my way out of it over the course of the day. But for the past two weeks, it's been too much to work through first thing in the morning. So not only do the girls literally receive a rude awakening, they then have to stumble to the family room on tired little feet.

The girls have also become accustomed to my back pain. They know better than to ambush me from behind as they have seen me crumple to the floor, crippled with pain, on more than one occasion. They've seen me struggle to get up from the couch like an 80 year-old man, and they have also "adopted" lower back pain to get out of doing things they don't want to do.

Earlier this week, I was surprised to find Kailey sitting up in bed when I walked in to wake her up for school. Trying to wake Kailey up is like trying to wake the dead. She's the one I most often have to resort to the "rude awakening" to get out of bed. I shuffled into her room clutching my back and trying to work out the kinks. Her eyes lit up when I entered the room, and as I sat down beside her, I noticed
she had her allowance money spread out across her bed. "Hey, Sweetie. Whatcha doing?"

"Dad. I saw this commercial yesterday for this bed. It's called a Tempur-Pedic. They put a glass of wine, like this red wine, on one side, and they jumped on the other side, and guess what? It didn't even fall down! But on the other bed, they jumped on it, and it spilled all over the bed!"

"I'll bet that made quite a mess," I laughed, knowing exactly what commercial she was talking about.

"Yeah, it did! When I saw that commercial, I thought I could buy you a Tempur-Pedic bed for your back!"

I sat there staring at my daughter, dumbfounded as I realized what was going on. Kailey woke up that morning and pulled out her allowance money to count it and see if she had enough to buy her old man a bed that would ease the pain of his aching back. Kailey has saved quite a bit of money for an eight year-old, but nowhere near enough for a Tempur-Pedic. Believe me. I've checked. But the fact that she was willing to spend her savings on me blew me away. I tried to say something, but the words clotted in my throat. So I reached out and gave her a big hug while I composed myself.

"Thank you, Sweetie. That's very kind of you," I finally managed. I wanted to give her a piggy back ride right then and there; hell, I wanted to buy her a pony, anything to show her how much I appreciated her gesture of kindness, but knew that somehow it would all fall short. So I did the thing that she needs most from me: be a dad. Love her. Protect her. Care for her. Provide for her. I helped her put her money away and we walked hand in hand to the family room where I resumed my morning ritual duties. Only on this particular morning, I did it with a little more spring in my step...bad back and all.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That's very sweet indeed.

You have a very good way with words - that was a beautiful story.

the battered ham said...

Thank's always good to be a dad, but on that particular morning, it was great to be a dad. Moments like that give me hope that I'm not completely screwing up my kids. Thanks for visiting.