As she was beginning to perfect her walking, she’d walk around the house all day long, without purpose. Later, I’d learn that was nothing novel for her, she was just following her own script, her individual expression of life.
Practice makes one perfect—no one had to tell her that adage, and of course she was too young to understand that anyway. She was nevertheless born with that knowledge. The first day she’d learn a new word, she’d keep on using that word in almost every sentence, whether it made sense or not. Then I won’t hear her speaking it for some time and I’ll forget about it.
One day suddenly, when I’d forgotten all about that word, I’d hear her using it, and she’d do that in a perfect context. It was no surprise therefore that she learned to speak well rather early, and had a great appetite for listening to stories.
I wasn’t one of those fathers who’d read bed time stories from the classic children’s books, I was too lazy for that. Naturally, it wasn’t long before I exhausted all my stock stories, which were gifts from both my parents and grandparents.
Being a lazy reader, I then resorted to make up my own stories. I was not endowed with many talents in life, and certainly wasn’t gifted with storytelling abilities, and therefore, my stories lacked coherence and substance. I became aware of my shortcomings, as I didn’t find any other child beside my daughter who’d pay attention to my stories.
There were times though, when I thought, not reading to my daughter Alice in the Wonderland, or, Hansel and Gretel, perhaps I was depriving her of an early education rich in imagination and mind broadening inculcation.
Soon however, I discovered, she was telling me stories. True that her stories were even more incoherent than mine, and they made even less sense, but she was using words flawlessly from a rich stock. In her stories, the blue elephants would have pink tails, and the tigers would make friends with small birds rather than their own kinds, nonetheless she’d the ability to make up endless sequences without being stuck in a groove.
In those days her world would revolve around me, and she depended on me to take her outside our house to introduce her to the world so that she could explore the unknown.
She would watch the flowers, butterflies, waves on the oceans endlessly, and ask questions nonstop. Her barrage of questions would sometimes create the impression that she was asking only for the sake of asking, and that thought brought irritation in me, but I forced to restrain my emotion.
The first shock I’d had was when she’d say, “But Daddy, you said it didn’t rain in the deserts in the summer, so how could it rain in Dubai in July?”
That stunned me, because several weeks ago I‘d told her it didn't rain in the desert in summertime, and I didn't think she was paying attention then. From then on I’d be careful while responding to her. No more casual comments.
I can quite relate to it now, that it was not my daughter who alone was growing up, I too was growing with her, and learning, and gaining wisdom.
Teaching her how to ride a bike, my own handling of it was getting better. Teaching her how to swim, I was overcoming my own clumsiness in water. Helping her with additions, multiplications and divisions, I was rediscovering the magic of numbers again. We indeed were growing up together.
Then, without even realizing I stopped growing own day. I first discovered this when she effortlessly installed an App. so that I could convert a YouTube song to mp3. She was still growing, but I wasn’t.
She was growing, if not outside, surely inside, since she was still asking me questions. But the nature of her questions was changing, and it was no longer easy for me to answer them.
One day she asked me, “Dad, you told me lies never win, but I can see all around me people who lie are the ones who move up all the time. What am I supposed to do?”
The question had shaken my own core conception and belief system, and I spent a long time dwelling on it, but still have not found the right answer.
Then another day she asked, “If I’m supposed to forgive someone seventy time seven then why does our country sends drones to far-away countries and kill children and women who even don’t know us?”
I’m still searching for an answer to this question.
I was beginning to dread her questions. I was secretly hoping she would stop asking me questions.
And she surely did stop asking me questions, although I didn’t realize it first when she did that.
One day, watching TV together, as she came over to share the Thanksgiving week-end, she smiled at a politicians comment, “The proposed cut in the program is only to strengthen it…” She didn’t ask me any question, just smiled at me; that day I realized my daughter had truly grown up.
That day I also realized I was seeing her less and less for the last few years.
Once I was the center point of her life and she lived in my world, now I lie in the periphery of the world she has created for herself. Once she strove for my continual attention, now other things have taken over her priority, and I seldom appear in her focus. Our worlds are still connected, but only remotely.
When the transition occurred I even didn’t notice it, since it happened gradually, and we don’t perceive gradual changes.
I’d also failed to notice that when I was with her it was always she who was driving the car. I’d also failed to notice, it was I who was asking her questions when faced with any decision making.
Oh, how has it come full circle!
But that’s the story of life, isn’t that? It’s time to accept, and move on. That’s how it’s supposed to be.