It’s somewhere between 4:00 and 5:00 ( in the morning!) right now, and I was just awakened by the cry of a 3-year-old in her room.
Normally, the only reason I might get called by a kid that early is because mom was gone or… nothing else – that’s the only reason.
So, for a call to come out to dad was exciting.
I’m awake. I sit up and look over to make sure my wife is still there. She is. Now I’m worried..
“Dad? Where are you, dad?”
In a singular motion, I’m out of bed, across the hall, and into the room containing the little girl in distress.
“I’m here, Millie. What’s wrong?” I try to sound as calm as I imagine her mom would be.
With super-human acuity, I immediately discern the cause of her malady – her covers are off. Now with super-human speed, I return the misplaced blanket to its rightful place. I kiss her on the forehead and walk back towards my room with adrenaline pumping as she breaks the early morning silence one more time.
“Dad? I’m thirsty.”
Super-human superfluousness settles on the room as I ask her if she wants a drink. I’m sure even her three-year-old mind was thinking ‘duh’ as she nods in the affirmative (Is there ever a way to nod in the un-affirmative? Wondering this as I type makes the superfluous reference even more appropriate. Way to go, dad).
I race to the kitchen to get the drink, certain that if I’m not moving at lightning speed that something dire will happen while I’m gone.
I don’t know if there are actual world-records for 4:00 a.m. water glasses being filled and returned to children’s rooms, but I’m certain I’d have it if there was. Two words: Super-human rapidity (is that two words or three? Dang hyphens…)
So the new world-record holder of 4:00 a.m. water-retrieval sprints back down the hallway, giving no heed to the dangers of walls, corners, or uncollected toys. My personal safety doesn’t matter, only the hydration of my little girl. I kneel down to give her respite from her dry throat, and…
No movement, no gasping for breath, no sound of any kind. She’s asleep. Her pre-dawn room service request is left unfulfilled.
And the super-human dad leaves her room with a smile. I’m not smiling because she was denied her aquatic reprieve, but because she called for ME.
So, now with adrenaline pumping and the thought of further sleep being unattainable now, I’m left by myself to think.
I think about all the dads who are super-human. Not super-human speed, not super-human intelligence or influence, but super-human in the most important thing: Just being there. I think about all the kids who don’t get to have a dad pull up their covers for them, don’t get to ask a 40-year-old man for water at 5 am, don’t get to hear corny dad jokes 24/7, and who don’t get to call out for dad because he’s just not there.
You see, I hear more and more stories about these ‘men’ who are biologically grown-up and emotionally still babies. So many kids are handed a gaping hole in their lives because someone somewhere decided their wants are more important than their kids’ happiness and security. Really? To call these types of people ‘dog terds’ is an insult to the stuff dogs leave on your lawn.
I’ve already ranted about this in a previous post, so I’ll just leave it at that…with a small addendum –
To the terds out there who bought into the delusion that your ‘needs’ trump the real needs of your kids, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that you’ll never get to be awakened at 5:00 in the morning to help a little girl feel safe and warm.
I’m sorry that you don’t get to hear the laughter of a 5-year-old boy who just invented (and shared with you) a joke that doesn’t make any sense at all.
I’m sorry that you’re going to miss the hugs of a 7-year-old blue-eyed princess who ‘just wanted to say she loved you’, the smile from the 9-year-old accompanying you on a daddy-daughter date, the successful pranking from your sons hiding in a closet to scare the bejeebies out of you, and the eye roll of your teenage daughter when you refer to her friends as ‘marshmallows’ (She calls them her ‘peeps’, and when I was growing up, that was a bright pink marshmallow chicken…)
And as I ponder on these things, I know for certain that the most super-human attribute a dad can have is just being there. Not pursuing their own interests, not filling their own ‘needs’, just plain and simply being there. For all you dads who are doing your best and sticking around, you’re super-human to the only people that matter – your precious children. Most of your quirks and flaws will be forgotten as your children remember that you were there for them. Remember that the next time you hear the early morning call –
“Dad? Where are you, dad?”
We’re super-human dads – We’re right here…
..and we always will be.