I realized very quickly almost none of what I had learned from life with her brother would be of any use with her-except as a means of comparison. I also learned that while our two children are related to one another and to us, their parents, they are very different people. Acknowledging they are people, with their own minds, decision and lives, is a quantum leap for me and it's one I make neither easily nor gracefully.
Michelle has always been here but also somewhere else at the same time. Her pleasure at meeting you for the first time is genuine but there's a wariness to how she interacts with you until she gets to know you that makes you realize you will need to prove yourself worthy of her friendship.
As an infant, it wasn't unusual to check on her while in her crib and discover she was wide-awake, lying there silently looking at her surroundings and taking everything in. You could see the wheels turning even if you had no idea about the thoughts they were producing.
I think it was in third grade she started violin lessons and quickly demonstrated an aptitude for being able to pick up any instrument and make music with it. And it wasn't that many years ago (Einstein would perhaps be proud or not of how I've misunderstood his Relativity Theory) her mother and I visited her while she was at Eastern Connecticut State University (School motto: No, dammit, we're not UCONN).
She and her coursemates staged a brown bag lunchtime concert and she surprised and delighted us with a short piano piece played as adroitly and expertly as she plays the viola, the violin, the French Horn, the ukulele (I think) and all her other musical instruments.
Michelle is a still kinda recent graduate of ECSU, working on a half dozen side-projects to include, until the start of last summer, a community orchestra, while working a full-time job in the growthless recovery that has been New England for close to a decade.
She lives with us which could help me better realize she is a grow-up and not the infant I used to hold in the crook of my arm all those years ago as my snuggle-bunny if I were to put my mind to it. Suffice it to say she is not the only stubborn person under our roof, if you follow my drift.
Those snuggle-bunny days are forever gone, but I still have my memories. I'm hoping she would be the first to enjoy the irony of a dad who too often (for her taste) still sees her as a child, wishing her, the confident and talented adult, the Happiest of Birthdays because she's helped show me how Life Goes On.
And I'm glad the sneakers arrived early.
- bill kenny