Friday, May 11, 2007


Twenty-eight years ago today, I learned the true meaning of Love at First Sight when I laid eyes on my newly-emerged-from-the-womb baby daughter for the first time.

Beer Goggles have legendary powers of obscuration, they say, and whatever you see through them looks especially lovely...but they got nothing on Baby-Goggles. For Elder (then, Only) Daughter was a mess, SWMBO having gone through eight hours of hard labor. At the very end, one of the delivery nurses (who had evidently earned her sobriquet “Jo Jitsu” for a reason) was leaning on the Missus with her arm, trying to squeeze Elder Daughter out like toothpaste from a tube. She finally emerged, slathered in blood and vernix, with a head whose shape bore a vague resemblance to an aubergine.

All of that mattered not one whit to me and the Missus. It was, indeed, Love at First Sight, striking with all the impact of a barreling freight train. A huge emotional impact, wrapped up in a tiny six-pound body.

We took our new baby home and learned to be parents...and Elder Daughter was a good teacher. Some moments stand out. Her first solid food at the age of three months, propped up in a baby carrier while we visited friends in Houston. The first time she laughed, lying on her back at my grandmother’s apartment in North Miami Beach, as I played with her by dropping a wadded up Kleenex on her face over and over.

She was an amazingly verbal child, speaking in complete sentences at nine months. Until she learned to talk, she had been been subject to frequent bouts of Extreme Crankiness; as soon as she mastered a more effective way of expressing herself, she became far more pleasant. The ability to communicate put paid to most of her childish frustrations, it seemed.

She did not master walking until she was fifteen months old...and she explained why, while pulling herself up on the furniture: “I no walk. I fall down!” She wanted to wait until she was sure she could do it right.

Elder Daughter 1981
Me and my shadow: Atlanta, 1981.

As she matured, however, her cautious nature was gradually displaced by an adventuresome spirit. She learned to sing and dance, putting those talents to good use in high school and college theatrical productions. In her senior year of college she studied abroad, and, after being graduated, went off to England to live and work for a year. A shrinking violet? Not this kid.

She’s always welcomed change, even when changes have been challenges. Now living in a new place - Washington, D.C. - and toiling away at a career that melds television production and education, she is articulate, intelligent, and perceptive, all traits that date back to her earliest days.

Elder Daughter 2007
Elder Daughter, 2007.

As a baby, she stole our hearts from her first minute on Earth. As an adult, she thrills us, captivates us, and makes us proud. (Plus, she shares my twisted sense of humor.)

She is our Elder Daughter, and we love her. Happy birthday, sweetie!

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