I'm told you can learn a lot from your children. Considering how dumb I am, but how much dumber I was before we had kids, I guess that's true. The education in understanding others that started when I married and deepened with the birth of our son, developed that much more with the arrival on this day, an undisclosed number of years ago, of our daughter, Michelle.
I realized very quickly almost none of what I had learned from life with her brother, Patrick, 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. It wasn't that long ago her mother and I visited her while she was an undergraduate at Eastern Connecticut State University (motto: No, dammit, we're not UCONN) for a brown bag lunchtime concert she and classmates staged. She surprised and delighted us with a short piano piece played as adroitly and expertly as she plays the viola (and all her other musical instruments).
Michelle is a recent graduate of ECSU, working on a half dozen side-projects to include a community orchestra, while seeking a full-time job in a growthless recovery. 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, if I so chose. She is not the only stubborn person under our room, if you follow my drift.
Those days as my snuggle-bunny 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, who wishes her, the confident and talented adult, the Happiest of Birthdays because she's shown me how Life Goes On.