Friday, February 26, 2010

The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat

Maybe you've watched ABC's Wide World of Sports a few years - sheesh - decades back like I did. I remember seeing that ski jumper take a spill at 60+ miles per hour just before hitting the end of the jump, taking out some sort of pole and clobbering a few spectators - the agony of defeat!

If you have worked with, been around, watched them on TV, are related to, or own your own teenager, then the phrase, "the agony of defeat" takes on a whole new meaning.

I am sure that you are able conjure up your own thoughts of teenagers - even your own teen-aged experiences - both the ones labeled victory and defeat.

19 years ago I was at Cape Cod Hospital, and I was enjoying the "thrill of victory," as my middle daughter was born. I was working alone at a Camera store in the Falmouth Mall - a Tuesday in the late afternoon. I was scheduled to close at 9. The phone rang about 6 o'clock and it was the hospital saying that my wife had been admitted and they were going to do an emergency c-section at 8. I called one of my sales reps and asked him to cover me. He showed at 7 PM, and I left for Hyannis. I arrived at 7:58, donning my surgical gown and mask as I made my way to the OR. Erin was born at 8:01.

Now at the pinnacle of her intelligence, I am constantly challenged by the one who thinks faster when necessary, and not at all when it really matters, than I do. She sufferers from "LMSWIPD" Syndrome - left my stuff where I put it down - syndrome. It is very common in this age/gender group. She also gets PMS, too much sleep, can only distinguish other teenagers voices, texts 48 words per minute and collects Dunkin Donuts iced coffee cups in her car. I am assuming that some day a carload will be worth quite a lot - well if she leaves the tags on them

That's the victory. I have a daughter that is pretty much normal in every way.

As a parent you never think you'll say what your parents said to you - "Can't we listen to some music in which I can understand the words?" And my folks thought Elton John and Robert Plant we hard to understand - try August Burns Red!

When Erin and I interact, there is a lot whining - she hates when I do that. I suppose we are making progress, but most days I still feel like I could do a better job.

As a child of divorce, there is a lot of agony in there. Sure, some of it seems to have calmed down, but the scars are probably always going to be there. Some days I hear about kids that are resilient, but I think kids that receive love and live in peaceful homes do much better in life.

I often think of the day Erin was born - how tiny she was barely 6 pounds. I also think of days when she called to tell me he mom was drunk, or that someone hurt her at school and there was nothing that I could do. Oh yes, and then there was the day she swallowed her lunch money and one of coins was precariously perched; nearly blocking her airway. They couldn't help her in Hyannis, so together we took the ambulance to Boston. I gave her the x-rays as a souvenir. I even remember the last time I carried her - it was to her last day of Kindergarten.

So, Erin, when you read this, remember how much I love you. How I wish I could still pick you up and carry you - how I could have let you cry on my shoulder when you were hurting - but that part of life has passed us by. I'm sorry for all things I seem to have messed up in your life, but I'm going to keep on trying to be the dad you need, and deserve.

Happy Birthday! Oh, and can you pick up your room!

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