Friday, November 14, 2008

A Letter From Baba

Dear Cadence,

I don't usually do this. I like to think that these letters to you are something special between you and your Mama. Nevertheless, for better or for worse, today marked a major milestone in your life, which I am left uniquely qualified to talk about, and I feel compelled to write to you about what happened. Whether you remember this day or not, today is the day you had your first major hurt, and it will stay with me forever.

Today started as have many days, with some playing in the morning and then chasing around to get you dressed.

This was followed by further displays of cuteness,

finding of new toys,

and mess making.

So, yeah, it was a regular day, although perhaps I was a little more tired than usual. Then, as I was walking over you to get into our bedroom, your clumsy Baba kneed you in the head. Not really hard but bad enough that you started crying. You know, it occurs to me now that this little accident may have been partly a consequence of your ever-increasing height. My step-over may have been calibrated for a much shorter lady.

It wasn't a happy moment, but not horrible... you've had much worse bonks, and I think it was more startling than anything. I took you to the kitchen and pulled out your nice cold medibear for your head, but - smart little lady that you are - you knew what you wanted. The last day or two, you've been more hesitant about asking for treats with me. Like the other night, when you got very upset after I told you that you'd have to wait until after dinner to have your piece of candy. Well, once you started crying and tantruming, I definitely couldn't give you candy, but luckily Mama was able to smooth things over. After dinner, you led me over to the candy bowl, and I picked you up so we were right in front of it. I asked you what you wanted, but you wouldn't answer... you just looked at me a little sad and sheepish, whereas usually you'd point right at what you desired and we'd go from there. So, finally, I asked you, "do you want some candy?", and you gave this sweet little nod.

Well, just the same way, we stood in front of the freezer and I asked you what you wanted. You looked at me sadly, but didn't answer until I finally asked, "do you want a freeze pop?" And once again, a slight, sad nod and then happiness when I pulled out a nice orange one for you. The freeze pop has, unintentionally, become your go-to comfort treat when you have an accident, so I was expecting you to want one.

I cut it open and threw out the stub, holding you in my left arm, the freeze pop in that hand. I'm not sure what happened - although I keep replaying the moment in my head - but I looked over at you just in time to see the tip of the freezepop wrapper poking your left eye. I swore, and you started crying, and Kate came running in.

We drove you to the nearest urgent care clinic, found out they didn't take medicaid, drove to a different one down the street, and got on the phone with our designated medical center. We didn't try there first, because it usually takes hours to get in touch with the triage nurse. Luckily Kate was able to call the center in a roundabout way, and we were able to talk to them while in the urgent care center's waiting room. We quickly got a referral to an eye doctor off in another part of town and we were off.

The whole time you were such a good little girl. You were hurting pretty bad, and screaming your lungs out while we were in the car, but once we'd get out and be waiting, you'd be okay and would look around, draw on our intake forms and even give us some smiles. But the scratch was pretty bad - visible even to the naked eye - and it was getting to be naptime before we had gotten to the eye doctor. It was rough, every time you'd start to fall asleep and your eyes would close the scratch would irritate your eye and you'd wake up.

Finally, you fell asleep and we got in to see the doctor. She took a look, dyed your eye so we could see the scratch and told us the (relatively) good news. It's a big scratch, but it's superficial and should heal quickly. She put in some ointment and stuck a patch on your eye (which you hated).

So basically, your Baba turned you into a cute little pirate:

Anyway, this long narrative is almost over, but I just wanted to memorialize another thing that happened tonight. Every time you'd reach for the patch, we had to tell you that you had to leave it alone and that prospect would make you tear up and sob. Finally, your Mama and I sat down with you and explained to you how important it was to keep the patch on. I asked if you could keep it on till morning and you nodded yes. And you haven't fiddled with the patch since.

Cadence, I've told you this a lot today, and I'm probably going to be saying it a lot in the years to come: I am so sorry that I hurt you. Words cannot capture how sorry I am and how much it hurts to know that I hurt my little lady. I hate that I can be clumsy and that sometimes you (or your mama) get hurt as a result. I'm trying to be more careful, and I promise you that I am going to try even harder to protect you. I am ultimately grateful that the scratch isn't worse than it is - the doctor said it may be healed in as little as 24 hours, and that you have been dealing with the pain and scariness so well. Thank you also for forgiving me, your smiles, hugs and kisses tonight have meant so much. But I am learning to be a better father, and I will learn from today.

I love you, Bug.