How I Broke My Daughters Heart

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      I feel like an absolute tool. It was like knocking a glass of milk off the counter with your arm and watching helplessly while the glass slowly falls to the tile floor . . .and shatters. Slow motion and once it started I couldn’t stop it.

      Ok, heres how it happened. My daughter Sabrina is four years old and very precocious in some ways, I’ll admit I am biased of course. She has been hounding me for awhile to get her a computer and of course the answer has been an emphatic “no”. I’m not about to be one of those snooty, annoyingly capitulant parents who gives in to the whims of my children. I’m no pushover! I was raised in the John Wayne School of Parenting so the answer is no! Well . . .it was no. For a good long time. I know, I know what your thinking but in my defense I have two daughters, two dogs and one wife. All of which are female and my resolve is only so strong.

      Anyway I promised her that if she learned to “read words” then I would get her a computer. Well at age four she has learned to read and write several words. Now I’ve painted myself in a corner. So I have to get a little crafty. My wife Rhonda and I decided that she could “share” the household computer with us. Not too impressive really, that is until I set up her own user ID and password. Sabrina and I chose the avatar that she like the best, a porcelain looking kitty and she also selected the desktop wallpaper, yet another kitty. This one with angel wings. So I am a ROCK STAR now! Life is good and she is sooo happy with me.

      Cut to the dramatics. It is now four o’clock in the afternoon and she and her nineteen month old little sister Olivia have just gotten up from a late afternoon nap. Sabrina wants to play her video game and ever-so-wisely her mother has said no. (see what I did there?) There is wailing and screaming and general ennui. All the makings of a proper Greek tragedy. It goes on and on and on. By this time John Wayne has had a belly full and so Sabrina goes in the corner and is left there until The Duke calms down. Have I mentioned that I suffer from auditory over-stimulation?

Cropped screenshot of John Wayne and Angie Dic...

Cropped screenshot of John Wayne and Angie Dickinson from the trailer for the film Rio Bravo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      Once I am thoroughly calm I call Sabrina to come from her exile and we have a talk. I like to use contrast to help her understand things and it seems to work well. So she stands there sniffling and red faced. I lead with “I love you” as any good parent would and I begin to verbally illustrate (using contrasts) the mistakes that she has made since the time her eyes opened from napping. She seems to understand but It is important that she is sorry for the bad behavior. SO, I remind her of how a few hours ago her mother and I gave her a share in our computer and how instead of being happy and appreciative she has chosen to pitch a tantrum.

      It worked. Too well. As I was “contrasting” and “illustrating” a singular look comes over her face. A look of complete understanding, and more to the point, a look of utter pain and brokeness at what a bad child she feels that she has been. Large, voluminous tears pour from her eyes as she tells me that Daddy and Jesus aren’t proud of her. A lump the size of my foot catches in my throat as John Wayne holds back his tears. Immediately I pick her up and explain that her daddy and Jesus will love her forever, no matter what what she has done. I had broken my daughters heart. In that innocuous moment I took from her a small piece of innocence. She experienced a mature and deep realization, far deeper than I wanted her to feel. She grew up a little at that moment and it almost killed me. Gosh I love that girl.

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