Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dodging The Crimson Bullet: How A 'False Alarm' Helped Me Realize I Am (Mostly) Ready For My Little Girl To Start Growing Up




I dodged a bit of a bullet today. 

I have been a stay at home dad for over 10 years, and somehow managed to miss every single milestone for all three of my children. I have always been more of a night person, and my three girls seem to be following suit.  When I was off working my part-time evening job, they would each experience their "firsts": first laugh, first step, first word, and so on. I always thought it was poetic justice that my wife got to experience all of those things first even though I was with the girls full time and she was not.

Cut to this afternoon when I was cleaning the girls' bathroom. I opened the toilet to flush that inevitable flush that my fourth, invisible child, "Notme" always fails to take care of (doing so with perpetual hope that I'll find a clean bowl). There in the toilet was a bloody wad of toilet paper and un-flushed urine. My heart began to pound and I called all three girls in to ask who was the last to use the toilet. True to form, they each swore that "Notme" did it again. I explained to them the seriousness of the situation and about how important it was that I know who was the last one in there. I promised no one would get in any trouble, but still, they insisted:  "Notme" did it again.

I began panicking, as my girls are currently on antibiotics to finally get rid of the strep throat they've been passing back and forth for a month (we finally found a doctor who agreed to treat all three who each presented with symptoms, even though they didn't all test positive). One of my 6 year-old twins had been complaining of back pain a few days ago, and all I kept thinking was:  "OMG What if this is her kidneys?"  Or, "Did I miss something in the Halloween candy and they are poisoned?" My eyes darted from kid to kid trying to remain calm, when I made eye contact with my ten year old.

AHA! 

My panic level was off the charts on the inside, but I did my best to hide it with my outward actions and tone. I calmly said: "I need you to go in the master bathroom and take a flushable wipe to see if it is you who is bleeding." 

Her eyes popped out of her head, realizing what I was talking about. I hugged her and told her how exciting this was, and that she would be OK. And then I kept saying to myself: "It is going to be OK, it is going to be OK!!" I was dying on the inside...how could my little girl...my 10 year old little girl...be having her first period when my wife is not home???

I sent her in our bathroom, as I knew that we had a new supply of pads, tampons, pantie liners-- the works.

 I started to well up with tears at the thought of what this meant. My little girl is not a little girl anymore! What if she has questions I don't have answers for? What if she forgets what my wife taught her about using a pad? What if she comes out of the bathroom and doesn't look like "my little girl" anymore? Wait--I miss the first laugh and the first step, and I get THIS milestone???

She advised me that she was not bleeding, but thought she saw some blood on her underwear. I swapped a clean pair of underwear via stretched arm through the door and advised her to use a pad as her mom had taught her. With all the confidence I could muster, I asked her if she was feeling all right and if she had any questions. Thankfully, she said: "no, daddy, I am fine and I know what to do."

I looked at the underwear and there was no stain anywhere to be found. I went back to the girls' bathroom and further looked at the bloody mess in the bowl. I flushed it, and let out a deep sigh. My daughter came out of the master bath, and did not look different to me, as I had feared in my panicked mode. I gave her a big hug and told her I was proud of her and the young lady she was becoming.

My daughter went back to the book she was reading, and I returned to my cleaning. As I emptied the bathroom trash, I found a red ice pop wrapper stuffed in the bathroom garbage can!! I called all three of "Notme's"
 sisters in, one more time. I asked them to stick out their tongues. I directed them to look in the mirror and for the one with the "red tongue" to prepare an apology for once again blaming "Notme," and for putting me in a bit of a panic.  True to form, the responsible child of mine for this current mishap was the only one to look away from the mirror rather than fess up.  #notmediditeverytime!!!

My wife came home and I opened myself a cold, dark beer and stepped outside.

"Did you have a rough day?" she asked, as the screen door was slowly closing.

"Depends!" I quipped, as the door slammed shut.

*****

Milestones are an amazing part of parenthood. I am realizing as the kids grow older, the bigger these milestones will be-- each now tinged with a bitter reminder that we have to let our babies grow up.

I am grateful that I had this little dress rehearsal for something I am clearly prepared to handle; however, I would have no complaints if when this actually happens, my wife is home at the time.