Today is going to be a rough one for me. I have a daughter, my oldest daughter Avery, turning thirteen today.
This is tough for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that we are locked in our house and unable to give her the great “so you’re a teenager now” birthday party. I want, for the purposes of this post, to ignore that little part of this whole birthday and focus on the “my little girl is fast becoming a little lady” part of it.
On her birthdays, Avery likes to ask me about the day she was born. It was truly a comedy of errors and I think it makes her feel special that after all of the things that went wrong on that day, we still decided to dip our foot back in the pool and have her sisters.
When Adrienne was very pregnant with Avery, we went to the doctor for what was supposed to be a well-visit at our doctor. Clearly, everything wasn’t well as our doctor instructed us to get to the hospital stat. To my experience, when a doctor says “stat” it’s almost never good news. It’s never “you have a clean bill of health. Go get yourself a sammich stat”. As it turns out, we went from planning for the birth of our first daughter to inducing delivery in the course of just a few hours.
For the sake of an expediency that Avery didn’t afford us, it will suffice to say that Avery birth required hours of natural delivery and then a C-section. My wife often claims that she gave birth twice in the same night without the benefit of twins. The doctor thought she may have nicked Adrienne’s bladder during delivery and would have to explore that problem while I sat in a dark room for a little girl who was ready for mom to feed her for an hour and a half and she didn't hesitate to let me know it. There's the fact that her little feet were so small that her sensor anklet kept slipping off making the hospitals “kidnapping alarm” go off constantly. It was an extra long stay at the hospital and days without sleep.
It was a crash course in parenting that all parents go though. It was an unsettling beginning to a wonderful adventure.
If I were to use one work to describe Avery, that word would be ‘kind’. Her default setting is to think of others before herself. Maybe that’s something that every parent thinks of their own children but with Avery, it’s so incredibly accurate.
Over the years I’ve watched Avery take her birthday money to buy treats for her sisters, her friends and her cousins. She is appreciative and generous. She doesn’t judge people based on anything besides how they make her feel. Popularity and other external factors just don’t matter to her. I’ve watched birthday after birthday where Avery invites kids from every avenue of her life and try to get all of them to get along, regardless of their interests. She can’t understand that simply being nice isn’t enough for everyone to be besties. I envy that part of her as it’s something I have truly lost. If she is entitled to a special dinner, or gets to choose a movie, she asks those around her what they want and makes her decision based on that. Hell, for her thirteenth birthday dinner she decided the menu almost exclusively on what her sisters like to eat while watching movies. Incidentally, she didn’t take me into account when she chose a menu of cheese sticks, pizza rolls and little smokies.
Long story short, she is a special kid. My favorite time with her was shortly after her sister, Macy, was born. Macy, for a long time, didn’t see the value in anyone who couldn’t produce milk. In our little household, that eliminated Avery and me from any real utility.
What that meant is that Avery and I had to fend for ourselves in large part. During those months, Avery became my little buddy. We became inseparable, and that is something that has continued for the decade since.
The lesson here. None really. I just want to celebrate a wonderful little lady who will always be my little girl and my little buddy. I am proud of the woman you are becoming. It astonishes me that someone as good as you came from my parenting, clearly you leaned heavily on your mother in that department. I’ve said to you dozens of times, “I can be your friend and I can be your Dad. I’ll always pick Dad first, but my favorite times is when I can be both.”. Well, Avery, I can tell you, that for the last thirteen years, I been both more often than not.
Now, go get your homework done and clean your room, just because you’re becoming a teenager in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t mean I have to turn off being dad!
I have an addition to this post today. I want to say a giant thank you to those of you that took the time out of your day to do a drive-by happy birthday for Avery. Seeing friends and family pour past the house was a surprise to her and the numbers were a surprise to me. It was something generally reserved for YouTube. We did everything we could for her but the fact that so many people swung by and yelled their warm wishes her way meant more than anything we could have boxed and wrapped in pretty paper.
She said it was the best day of her life.
And she's been to Disney.
You people did that for her. Thank you.