Juggling Act

by Ray Colon on December 30, 2012 · 17 comments

Early Egyptian Juggling

Rather than subjecting you to a year-end “best of 2012” post, I decided to fire-up the Wayback Machine to share something that I wrote long before I started blogging. This story was written on March 13, 1996, when my 20-year old daughter was three. It’s one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it. Happy New Year!

“My daughter is still of the age where to watch me juggle two balls is magic.”

Standing there, performing for my daughter, I struggle to keep both balls aloft — not so much for a lack of dexterity on my part, but because I cannot resist staring back into her gaze of amazement. I have seen her tiny features transformed from a cherubic likeness to those that are now distinctly her own — as if chiseled from the hand of Michelangelo himself. She looks up to me with unyielding trust and an expression that evinces a discernible air of confidence that I will always be there for her. The level of satisfaction is so complete as to cause me to breathe deep the heavy air of responsibility. I am both elated and frightened — each with equal intensity. How can I possibly make all the right decisions? How can I ensure that she will look back upon these times with a sense of having been loved? These worries are undoubtedly not new, for every parent must surely feel similar pangs of trepidation, yet the knowledge that this is most likely a universal anxiety does little to ease my mind.

She likes to roughhouse with me and releases the loudest, most heartfelt laughter when engaged in this type of play. As she grows, I increasingly feel the sting of a once harmless slap to the cheek. She’s getting stronger every day. The crick in my neck, from a too firm grip while playing horsey, tells me so. We play anyway, because I’d rather feel discomfort than disappoint. Call it my contribution to the stereotypical fatherly weakness.

My little girl won’t always be little, and that is a frightening thought. When the teenage years arrive, I pity the early prospectors for her attention; for I am certain that I will not take it well.

But those years are still far off and there are more immediate concerns. It makes no sense to look too far into the future because in doing so we risk missing the present.

I had a birthday yesterday. I didn’t feel any sense of having achieved any particular milestone since thirty-six is not divisible by five or ten. I did however get up early in the morning to allow myself some moments of quiet reflection.

George Burns died last weekend.

Although he lived to see his hundredth birthday, I had a sense that he died too soon. What does that say for the rest of us? For me, it says that time is precious and that while we do not have the power to stipulate the place or time of our leaving we can control the use of it while we are able.

My daughter didn’t care about any of that. To her, it was Daddy’s birthday– whatever that meant. When I finally did return home from work, my wife reported that my little girl had dutifully practiced the birthday song all day long. Upon hearing this, I anxiously awaited her special rendition. The candles lit, I turned off the lights, sat back, and awaited the serenade. I looked into her eyes and said, “I’m ready.”

She would not sing. The long rehearsed tribute was undone by an unforeseen fit of shyness. The candles were melting onto the cake, so I made my wish and blew them out.

Maybe next year.

____________________

I was reminded of this story this morning, when I read a post by Neal Call. After commenting here, of course, I recommend that you visit Neal’s blog and read On holding hands (a meditation on being a father). He writes well and I think that you’ll enjoy his post.

Author Bio:

Ray Colon has written 167 posts on Ray's Blog.

He works with numbers for a living, but don't judge - boring accountants need love too. His blog has no niche (unless writing about things that are important to him is a niche). Some folks cringe when he gets “all political” on them, but he does it anyway when he's in that kind of mood. Sometimes, he writes something nice about someone, but you shouldn't get used to that. His first book, the one he hasn't written yet, is not available on Amazon. Subscribe to Ray's Blog via RSS  or Email.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean December 31, 2012 at 12:00 am

“She looks up to me with unyielding trust and an expression that evinces a discernible air of confidence that I will always be there for her. The level of satisfaction is so complete as to cause me to breathe deep the heavy air of responsibility. I am both elated and frightened — each with equal intensity. How can I possibly make all the right decisions? How can I ensure that she will look back upon these times with a sense of having been loved? These worries are undoubtedly not new, for every parent must surely feel similar pangs of trepidation, yet the knowledge that this is most likely a universal anxiety does little to ease my mind.”

My partner just smiled when I read aloud this passage to him: he is father of 2 now adult children in their early 30′s.

I’m not a parent, just an aunt of 7 nieces and nephews from 3 sisters. I have a more luxurious position to observe and look after them occasionally when they were younger/when I’ve been around.

Sometimes parents…can’t stop being parents..like my parents. Well, you know what I mean. Anyway, Merry Christmas to you and your family. May 2013 hold good things and even something wonderfully new for you etc. that will test your natural gifts, etc.

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Ray Colon December 31, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hi Jean,

That’s so nice that you read this aloud to your partner and that it brought a smile to his face. Aunts, like other members of an extended family can play an important role in the rearing of children, especially when they are young.

It’s true, parents can never stop. My mom especially. :)

Thanks for the wonderful holiday wishes. I hope that you and yours enjoy a fantastic 2013!

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neal January 1, 2013 at 12:32 am

Ray, this was a great piece. It’s kind of a trip to imagine my own almost three-year-old when she’s twenty, and to imagine what she’ll think of all the things I write about her.

I wonder if you’ve shown this stuff to your daughter, and what she thinks. There’s poignant stuff here, all the more because it’s not tied up with a neat perfect bow. This is some of the real stuff of life and parenting that I wish more people could capture, and which I capture all too rarely myself. I’m a fan!
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Ray Colon January 1, 2013 at 5:01 am

Hi Neal,

Thank you so much for all of the very kind words. It’s appreciated. I didn’t write too often back then, but I’m glad that I was stirred to write this story because it has remained one of my favorite efforts.

I did show it to my daughter a couple of years ago and I reminded her of it this evening. Her reaction was just a smile and a little blushing.

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Julia Whitmore January 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

Lovely post. I can identify since our youngest is also 20. They were three just yesterday, right? Hope you are still juggling, and had many subsequent happy birthday renditions.

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Ray Colon January 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

Hi Julia,

Thanks, I enjoyed revisiting it. I’m not much of a photographer, so I guess that writing is my preferred way of capturing a moment.

They were three just yesterday! How did that happen?

My wife and I still laugh about the time that we were setting up the crib. She looked concerned and asked if I thought it would be big enough. (It was standard size). I held my hands about 18-inches apart and placed them on the center of the mattress. “Don’t worry, she’ll only be ‘this big’,” I assured her. My daughter hates when we trot out that story, but we laugh every time.

The juggling continues and yes, she has sung the birthday songs, without fail, ever since.

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Stay At Home Brad
Twitter:
January 5, 2013 at 3:05 am

Great post Ray, I wish I could write as well as you do. I’m more into photos than words, I guess. It takes all kinds though. Also, I want to thank you for your comments on my blog. I really appreciate them. I’ll make sure to come by here when I see there’s a new post. Take care!
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Ray Colon January 5, 2013 at 11:17 am

Hi Brad,

Thank you, that’s nice of you to say.

It does take all kinds. I try to add a photo or two to each post when I can find ones that fit, but I also try to make each post as concise as possible because of that whole Internet attention span thing. :)

I add all different type of sites to my Reader, because I am in the mood for different things at different times, but I tend to spend most of my time on blogs like Neal’s, who I linked to at the end of my post, because of the writing.

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Val
Twitter:
January 5, 2013 at 10:23 am

Lovely post, Ray. :) Do you think your parenting changed much as she grew up? (I’m not a parent…)
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Ray Colon January 5, 2013 at 11:20 am

Hi Val,

Thanks! Has my parenting changed over time? Absolutely. Without an instruction manual, we are bound to make many mistakes along the way. The hope is that we are able to adapt and improve before we do some real damage. :)

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marydpierce January 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm

You can juggle? That’s a great skill to have! I’ve tried, but hand-to-eye coordination is not my thing. I could make up stories though, and my son asked me to do that a lot. He also liked it when I made his “friends” talk – Woody, Buzz Lightyear, various stuffed animals. . . .

What a lovely story about parenting. The years fly by, and it’s nice to find a parent who relishes the moments. I’ll bet your daughter relished them, too.
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Ray Colon January 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Hi Mary,

I absolutely cannot juggle, unless we’re still talking about the two-ball variety. My hand-to-eye coordination seems to work only with sports. I don’t have your powers of ventriloquy. <== Ha, ha, I typed that and cracked up when spell-check didn’t underline it. Look it up and it actually exists. I probably won’t find a place to use it again any time soon.

Thank you. This one remains a favorite, even though it is a reminder that the years do go by much too quickly. Deep down, I believe that she likes it, although she feigns embarrassment.

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lameadventures January 5, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Lovely post from your personal Wayback Machine Ray. What’s life like now that your daughter is twenty?

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Ray Colon January 6, 2013 at 2:13 am

Thank you. The Wayback Machine came in handy for my final post of the year.

At 20, her life is good. She’s a confident and beautiful woman, halfway through her third year in college. She’s been home on her semester break for the last two weeks, so we’ve enjoyed being all together for the holidays.

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Lynette Benton January 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm

So, so . . . Did she ever, maybe in later years, sing to you?

Delightful post, Ray. Thank you for it.
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Ray Colon January 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Hi Lynette,

Thanks. Yes, she has sung along with the family in all of the years since. This turned out to be just a one-time hiccup. :)

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