Error: I'm afraid this is the first I've heard of a "comments" flavoured Blosxom. Try dropping the "/+comments" bit from the end of the URL.

Tue, 20 Sep 2005

I am the walrus

'The time has come,' the Walrus said,
'To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing-wax -
Of cabbages - and kings -
And why the sea is boiling hot -
And whether pigs have wings.'

My daughter started school last week. Real pre-school, with all the other (soon to be) 4 year olds, in a sprawling, slightly rundown, old Catholic school building with cracked linoleum floors and drinking fountains on the walls at would be for me, knee height. Lots of love is in that building. You can feel it as you walk in the front door. You can see it on the smiling faces of all the little children as their mommies and daddies walk with them hand in hand down the halls and greet the teachers waiting in each doorway.

She brought her Dora The Explorer lunch box and her Hello Kitty backpack and she wore her Disney Princesses glow-in-the-dark sneakers and off she trotted into the classroom with nary a backward glance. Sure she’d been to daycare before, but this was different; this was School. It’s a rite of passage for your child. The beginning of what should hopefully be a long and rewarding journey – the quest for Knowledge.

But for her, it was especially wonderful, she’d “caught up” to the other kids her age. There really was no way to visibly discern that she’d been born 3 months prematurely or that she’d spent her first 58 days of life in a neo-natal ICU. Back then, when I first saw her laying there with innumerable tubes and gadgets hooked up to her tiny body, I never even considered thinking about the first day of school. I only prayed really long and really hard that she would live through the night. And she sure did. By the grace of God she not only survived, she thrived too. Those 58 days were Hell on Earth at first, then as she grew bigger and stronger it was just the interminable waiting until they’d finally let us take her home.

All through her first year we were warned, don’t expect too much, don’t get your hopes up yet, don’t measure her against what other kids her age are doing. They told us she probably wouldn’t be like the “other kids” until she was 5 or 6.

Yet here she was, trotting off to preschool, a few months shy of her fourth birthday. Just like all the other kids. I was damned proud of her.

All those memories and more were running through my head as I fumbled around in the hallway for a minute or too and started to walk away. Then she bounced out of the room with her teacher in tow and lunchbox in hand. The teacher, a nice matronly lady who looks exactly like a Catholic school teacher would look if you ordered one from Central Casting, took her by the hand and showed her where the lunch boxes were stored in neat little cubbies along the wall. She lined hers up with all the others. And back into the room they went as I scurried off to work with a big smile on my face.

After that first day, when we picked her up, she excitedly told me “Daddy, we learned about God! He loves me!” You got that right, kid.

When I went to pick her up after the second day, I found out that they’d given her toddler detention. The teacher had told all the kids to get in line so they could go to the library and she said “no” and sat down in the middle of the floor. Teacher picked her up and put her in the Time Out Chair and she had to sit there quietly while all the other kids got to go to story time.

She took her punishment and didn’t complain. Mom wanted to scold her; I just hugged her a little tighter and asked her if she was going to get in line next time. “Yes, Daddy.”

After that, she was always the first in line. That’s my girl.

I became a parent late in life, well after my fortieth birthday. All those years I always said that I’d never have kids, they were too much of a pain in the ass. I was lying of course. I never wanted to have kids because I would have had to bring them up in my totally dysfunctional and screwed up family. I figured that my own childhood sucked enough, why would I want to inflict that onto another kid? I didn’t know families could be different from mine; I didn’t know there were “normal” families out there, where the parents didn’t give their kids cute little nicknames like “Useless” and “Knucklehead”, and where you didn’t have to put yourself to bed each night because Mom and Dad were passed out drunk in their mismatched Sears recliners while Johnny Carson blared from the tiny tv with the bent rabbit ears. Nor was I familiar with a world where Mom’s brother and his bunch of scuzzball kids didn’t take your little brother or your sister out behind the garage and do the kinds of things that you’re only supposed to read about in the newspaper.

But of course, we can’t actually talk about what happens out behind the garage. What would the neighbors and the rest of the family think if we made a scene? Just go to bed and stop your crying or they’ll really give you something to cry about. Make sure you take out the garbage first though.

Nope. I wasn’t going to bring a child into any of that.

Looking back, life to my family was always a zero sum game. If somebody was happy, somebody else had to be miserable to balance it out. They loved to foster competition, but not in the constructive “you’ll do better next time” way. Nope, their idea of competition was to constantly remind you that the other kid was so much better than you could ever hope to be. So, if you got good grades, you had to be told that your grades were not the best in the school, or as good as your brother used to get. If you built something like a small mailbox in shop class they had to point out it was the wrong color to hang on the house. In fact, if you did anything well, you had to be brought down a notch, lest you think you’re special or something.

Much later in life I came to realize that this attitude devolved from their own insecurities, and to feel good about themselves, they had to put somebody else down. But, preteen kids don’t usually have those kinds of insights, and growing up we all quickly came to realize that we would never be good enough to please our parents. Little kids are like puppies though, no matter how many times you kick them, they keep coming back for more. As kids we always believed that if we just did one more really great thing, then they’d show some appreciation, they’d really be happy for us, finally they’d say “good job”. I don’t recall it ever happening though.

My brother had a special spot in their crosshairs since he was a pretty athletic guy and Dad pushed him to go out for all the sports. Back in his day my father played football and his idea of motivating my brother was to always compare their respective football careers. He made sure to let my brother know that his performance didn’t measure up to what Dad had done when he was the same age.

I remember one summer when my brother was 8 or 9 and he entered himself into the “Punt, Pass, and Kick” contest sponsored by the NFL. He easily won the townwide competition for his age group, and then he won the county competition too. So, Dad had to take him to the state finals about an hours drive away. Right before they were about to leave, Dad tells Mom “this is a complete waste of time, you know he’s going to screw it up, he always does”. Of course he said this right in front of us. So, they drive off to the competition, and my brother gets his turn on the field, and he shanks the kick way off to the left. Dad was right, he screwed it up. Dad was always right. Sometimes we made sure of it.

Somehow, despite growing up being called “Useless” all the time (“hey Useless, go get me a screwdriver” or “go find Useless and tell him to get in here”) I managed to do pretty well in school and actually got myself accepted into a prestigious university. I met some good friends, and for the first time got a glimpse of what life was like outside the sphere of my immediate family. Being away for those 4 years made me realize that just perhaps I was not quite as useless as my parents had said I was. I got good grades and I learned how to cook (cafeteria food being what it was, anything I made had to be better). The best thing about college though was that I met a gentleman through the Church there, the Deacon who presided over the daily liturgy when the parish priest was otherwise occupied. We struck up a friendship, quite by accident one day when I was dragged to Mass by my roommate who thought that perhaps I was drinking a little too heavily than I should have been and maybe a little old time religion would set me on the straight and narrow.

Deacon “H” somehow knew that I needed a friend. Maybe my roommate told him, I don’t know. All I do know is that he took me under his wing, and we sometimes spent hours having intense, wide ranging, philosophical discussions. He got me involved in the Church, and I became an usher and a lector. He offered me encouragement, and as a father figure, I was totally hungry for his attention. He was the nicest, kindest, most genuinely saintly man I have ever met. He taught me that it was OK to be a social drinker, but moderation in all things was the key. He helped me to understand the nature of Evil and how to pray for guidance. He relit the spark of self-worth inside of me. He was in all probability an Angel from God.

Several years after I graduated he passed away and I wept for days upon hearing the sad news.

I wouldn’t say then that I was completely happy with my life, or that I wasn’t still seeking my father’s approval. And, if I had been stronger back then, things might have gone smoother for me, but then I probably would have never met my wife. During my Senior year as I was interviewing for jobs (none anywhere near to where I grew up) my mother had the first of her many “fatal” heart attacks. I was summoned home. A stronger man would have said “no”; I was not that man. I finished my degree, and moved back home to help my father take care of my mother. I got a job in the next town over, and they gave me my old room back.

My mother turned out to not be nearly as sick as they had led me to believe. I once saw an old movie where one character sarcastically says to another “she’s been dying of the same heart attack for 20 years”. That was my mother’s new schtick. I traveled a lot on business, and if I was gone too long, she checked into the hospital with chest pains. By this time my brother had enlisted in the army, and my sister had gone off to college, so I was alone at home with them. But, since I had spent 4 years living away from them (albeit with summers back home) I was used to a little more freedom than they were willing to grant me. The constant neediness began to wear me down, and the perpetual hospital visits with their marathon bedside vigils weren’t any fun either (she was always too sick to leave the hospital but never too sick to pick up the phone and complain that I was too busy to come see my sick mother). And every time I broached the subject of getting my own place, they went ballistic telling me how ungrateful I was after they had put me through college and that it was my duty to stay there and take care of them in their old age.

So, I stayed, until the day I mentioned I needed my own phone line. This was long before cell phones became the ubiquitous gadgets they are today, and way before Judge Greene destroyed Ma Bell. We had one phone in the house, hung on the kitchen wall. With a short cord. You could not have a real conversation with someone without Mom or Dad overhearing everything you said. At the time I was trying (unsuccessfully it turned out) to woo a young lady I had met through work. Using the kitchen phone to talk to her was out of the question and thus I wanted to order a second phone line for the house. Mom and Dad flat out said “no way”, that it was not needed, and what was I trying to hide from them?

The next day I called an apartment broker, rented a little 2 bedroom place quite near to where I worked, and moved out about 2 weeks later. My mother acted like I had driven a stake through her heart. I didn’t care about that nearly as much as I feared I would. I don’t know where I found this inner strength, but there it was. Eventually we derived an uneasy balance between me living alone, and them wanting me to attend to their various whims and needs. I had to spend most Sundays at their house, and agree to come by several times a month and cut the grass. I had my freedom, such as it was with them 5 minutes away. When my sister graduated from college they roped her right back in, and she dutifully moved back home. She never escaped, never married, and still acts like she’s 12 years old to this day. Because that’s how they always treated her.

A few years went by, and I bought a house in the same neighborhood where I was renting the apartment. It was a nice little town, with a mixture of young families and older couples who had retired and sent their children out in to the world. Eventually I became friendly with a couple a few years younger than me. They had a daughter and a newborn son. Right away I noticed something odd about how they interacted with their children. They said “I love you” to their kids. My parents had certainly never said that to me. They hugged their kids; I think we had once tried an awkward “group hug” one Christmas morning when I was about 15, but otherwise my family never manifested any displays of affection. Why would we?

Along about the same time I met a wonderful young lady. I was traveling on business, and we were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. She didn’t seem to mind that I was this geeky, nerdy guy. And I certainly didn’t mind that she was nice to me and laughed at my corny jokes. We were soon spending weekends together, and she eventually moved in with me.

Mom and Dad did not approve of that situation at all. When we announced that we intended to get married, they really went ballistic. Her parents were divorced! And her grandparents are Mexicans! (What was wrong with me that I couldn’t find an American girl to marry?) And you are living in sin! It’s scandalous! (A counter-intuitive objection since marriage would render it moot.) And you spend time with her family, you are neglecting us! (A point not to be taken lightly, they always found a reason to make me feel guilty if I made plans without checking if they needed me for something first.)

They never really got over their irrational hatred of my wife. They fretted over all manner of imagined slights she may have perpetrated against them when in reality all she really did to them was make me see that it was vitally important to please her sometimes too. In the end they would tolerate her presence, but I don’t think my parents ever used my wife’s real name in a conversation. She was always “your wife” when they had to mention her at all. One Christmas we managed to convince the whole family to come to our new house for dinner. My wife made individual Cornish hens from a recipe out of Gourmet magazine. My brother was there with his first wife and 2 kids, and some cousins too. She really went all out to make a special meal; it was fantastic. Then, just as the meal was served, mom and dad voiced their displeasure – “after all these years doesn’t she know we always have ham on Christmas”. Mom picked at her food, Dad got up and went to watch tv. Merry effing Christmas to them too.

Despite silliness like this, I was having a pretty good life. My wife loved me, and I loved her back. We had a small circle of close friends. I have a good job, and I’m reasonably well compensated for it. I’m not sure how, but one day my father found out how much money I was really making. It wasn’t a princely sum, but it was more than he had ever made in his life (he’d retired a few years earlier). It really burned his shorts. He dusted off his briefcase, and set out to get himself a job that paid more than I made. He got one too, at least for a few months. They let him go because he kept getting into pointless arguments with the younger guys, mostly when he wouldn’t trust their computer models to do the same stuff he said he could do by hand.

He had a motto – “I’m the best, if you don’t believe me, you can ask me.” Of course, he never added the second stanza – “and you’re not” – although it was always implied. If he couldn’t beat somebody fair and square; that is, if he didn’t know something or couldn’t do a particular job, then he resorted to browbeating and sarcasm. Anything to let him feel like he was still number one. Your kids and your family have to take crap like that; employers, not so much. I always wondered why he changed jobs so often, now I knew.

When my mother died we discovered that Dad had been banging one of her friends for years. They promptly became a couple out in the open, just a few weeks after Mom’s funeral. My brother and I found this to be immensely entertaining.

My mother’s funeral was scenic too. One of her brother’s sicko kids showed up, with his demented offspring in tow. Of course they put on great wailing public displays of mourning. Thankfully his other siblings couldn’t make it; his older sister had escaped by living as the #4 wife of a fundamentalist Mormon guy in Utah (along with wives 1, 2, and 3), and his brother was in a military prison for taking his own kids out behind the garage for his special brand of fun and not noticing that the MP’s were on patrol. The wake lasted for 3 days, and these buffoons sat there front and center for the entire time. My Dad had to fly in his grandchildren to show them off to everybody (my brother had gotten divorced; his kids lived with their mother down south) and to point out how they didn’t live with their father anymore and what kind of guy abandons his kids anyway?

My version of mourning was somewhat more subdued, although I did have to suppress the urge to break out and sing “ding dong, the wicked witch is dead”, at least publicly.

Dad stuck me with the bill for the funeral lunch. Mostly because a couple of my friends had stayed with me through the whole ordeal and he wasn’t going to pay for their lunches.

It was those friends who showed me that I didn’t have to live in a world of dysfunctional adolescence. They saw how my mother’s death did not affect me the way they would have expected their own mother’s death to affect them. They had normal families, and in normal families children do mourn their parents. I had to explain myself. It took a while, but one friend in particular (call her “G”) was able to get me to open up to her. “G” and her husband had 3 children, and everybody thought they were just about the ideal family. I told them most of the sordid story of my family and my childhood. Just talking about it with them made me realize that recognizing a problem was the first step to overcoming a problem. I could step back and see the true horror of how we had been treated as kids.

Seeing “G”s happy family and recognizing my parents for what they were gave me the strength to have children.. “G” and her husband got me to see that I need not be a parental train wreck. Not if I didn’t want to be one. With my mother gone, I could consider having a baby, and she wouldn’t be there to barge in and try to take charge. With her gone, I didn’t have to even tell her sicko nephew about my child.

So, my wife and I took the plunge. When we found out she was pregnant we were ecstatic. We got the baby’s room ready (ultrasound told us we were having a little girl). We didn’t have to spend much time picking out a name for her, we picked my Godmother’s name. She was my father’s sister, and really the only woman I remember from my childhood who could stand up to him. Definitely one tough lady. But she had a heart of gold, and she was always there for me in ways my own mother or father would never have tried.

Then just when things seemed like they were going to be perfect, with Christmas exactly 3 weeks away, I got the phone call that ripped my guts out. My wife was at work, 6 months pregnant, and her water broke. She was on her way to her doctor’s office, and I had to get there fast. When I walked in to the office, the receptionist immediately led me into a room where my wife was flat on her back on a table, with her doctor standing next to her, holding her hand. Tears were streaming down the doctor’s face.

I feared the worst, and couldn’t bring myself to ask about the baby. Then I heard the thumpa thumpa of the fetal heart monitor and I caught my breath. I knew that sound, I’d heard it during every monthly checkup. “We’re waiting for the ambulance to get here” she said. Nevermind that; the hospital was right across the street. I bundled her into the car as the doctor got on the phone to let them know we were coming. The hospital was great. They had a security guard meet us at the front door and escort us right up to Labor & Delivery. For the next 12 hours we stayed in a delivery room, surrounded by nurses and waiting to see if they could stop her from going in to labor.

Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. The doctors certainly earned their pay that day; they got my wife stabilized, and started her on a dose of steroids to help the baby’s lungs mature quickly. We got moved into a regular hospital room, around the corner from the maternity ward. Then we settled into a routine. She had to remain flat on her back, with her butt elevated to keep what little amniotic fluid there was left inside with the baby. It looked like she was going to be there for at least a month or more; the doctors and nurses were upbeat, they’d seen problems like this before and they assured me that things would work out.

All our friends rallied around us. Somebody was always at the hospital to visit with my wife; I could go to work confident that she was in good spirits, and I usually left work early and went over there to have dinner with her (the hospital food was actually quite good), and we made plans to have our Christmas celebrations there too.

Eleven days after she went in, on a sunny December Sunday morning, she went into full blown labor. There we were again, back in the delivery room. This time there was no going back; the baby was going to be born, at 29 weeks of gestation. The epidural went in, and I held her hand counting the time between her contractions. At 1 o’clock I turned the tv on and we watched the Jets game. Her regular doctor was away for the weekend, and his partner was a big Jets fan, so we had some fun talking about their pitiful season.

Then, at a little after 3 in the afternoon, my daughter was born. As soon as she came out she let out a nice big wailing cry; definitely a good sign. We only got to hold her for about 5 seconds, and they whisked her off to the neo-natal ICU. It would be about an hour before I would be allowed to go see her; they had to stabilize her and run a bunch of tests.

So there we were; sitting in a delivery room, with no baby to hold, and not really knowing anything about her. Then, a nurse came in with a Polaroid photo of her in the incubator. She was all wrapped up in blankets, and there were tubes everywhere, but she was pink and her little hands were clenched into tiny fists by her sides.

We had a daughter; it was time to let the world know. I called my father to give him the good news. It’s a conversation that I’ll never forget.

“Hi Dad, you’re a Grandfather! She was born about 20 minutes ago.”
“Uh, what? Oh, OK, call me after the game.”

And he hung up. I’d violated a cardinal rule of our childhood – never bother Dad when the Jets were on.

The NICU is a scary place the first time you see it. There are some critically sick babies there, and your heart goes out to the parents. Somehow from the beginning we got the sense that our daughter was different. They said she’d be on a respirator for almost a week. But, after about a day and a half, she managed to pull the tube out of her mouth and since she seemed to be breathing ok on her own, they left it out. They told us that we should expect her brain to swell, but it never did. They told us to be prepared to see her get regular blood transfusions, she never needed even one.

After a week they finally let us hold her. That’s when I knew that God was going to make everything alright. I cradled her against my chest and she slept, holding her little fingers around one of mine. We had to feed her via a tube that went through her nose down into her stomach; she was too small to be able to suck on a bottle or breast feed. Again the pessimism was voiced by the nurses – don’t expect her to keep all her food down, but she hardly ever spit up.

Three weeks after she was born, they moved her into the “step down” unit. It was still part of the NICU, but it was really just a maternity ward for babies too small to be in with the regular babies. She had a heart monitor so they could make sure she was still going strong, but we were able to hold her as much as we wanted, and the mood of the doctors and nurses was decidedly more upbeat.

Everybody wanted to come to visit her. Everybody except her Grandpa that is.

My brother drove in from the Midwest where he was living with his new wife. He brought her clothes and toys and I saw a side of him that I hadn’t seen before, he was gentle with her, and she was comfortable in his arms. Our friends were a huge help too, bringing us food, running errands for us, somebody even went out and bought us a Christmas tree because we didn’t have time to do it ourselves. We were just going to skip it that year. Soon there were so many presents for the baby under that tree that we had trouble getting in the front door.

Still, my father kept making excuses why he didn’t come to see his new granddaughter. Finally, out of frustration, my wife drove over to his house, picked him up, and walked him into the nursery at the hospital. He stayed for 10 minutes, declined to hold her, and then dashed downstairs to smoke a cigar.

The next time he saw her was at her Christening, four months later. And of course, he had to make a scene. This time though, I was done taking his bullshit. This time, when he started in with his usual putdowns, I let him have it.

A good friend of ours had recently opened a new restaurant. He had always dreamed of doing it, and he finally managed to scrape together enough money to get it off the ground. When he heard we were having a party for my daughter’s Christening, he insisted on providing all the food. We were thrilled, we’d already been to his restaurant several times and his food was excellent. We graciously accepted his offer.

During the party my father had to ask where we got the food. He had to know why my wife hadn’t cooked herself. I told him it was from my friend’s restaurant; my friend was standing right there. “Oh that place” my father said, “I heard it was terrible, what’d you go there for?” He didn’t know the owner of the restaurant was right there; he probably just thought he was being his old curmudgeonly self. My friend’s face fell; I gave my father a look of pure hatred, and said “Outside, now. We have to talk”.

And I let him have it with both barrels. “How dare you come into my house and insult my friends. I don’t care how you talk to me, but I will not stand for you talking to my friends like that. If you don’t like being here, then go home.” He didn’t understand why I was so upset. He told me I should have realized that he was just being funny. No, it was not funny. It was never funny. It never would be funny. He turned to walk away, not wanting to listen to me anymore. I said “Leave. My. House. Now.” through clenched teeth, and went back inside.

I apologized profusely to my friend. I made sure that everybody else went up to him and told him how great the food was. But, he left after about 15 minutes later, and I knew that he was hurt.

It took me almost a year to get to a point where I was willing to see my father again. I had better things to do, what with a new baby and all the responsibilities that entails. Plus, I was having a lot of stress at work, our business was down, and I was having trouble sleeping. My daughter had to sleep with a portable heart monitor attached to her, and invariably during the night one of the leads would come unstuck from her chest and the blasted siren would go off. She had to have heart surgery when she was 7 months old, and that made me even more stressed out.

My wife arranged for me to get a checkup with a new family doctor who had recently set up shop in town. He was a kindly middle aged Italian guy, and during the exam he innocuously asked me if I was experiencing any stress. When I said yes, he handed me a sample packet of Prozac.

“Better living through chemicals” became my mantra. This Prozac stuff was great! I was sleeping through the night; I was getting along better at work, I wasn’t grumpy all the time anymore. I even started to think about calling my father. My wife was especially pleased since we had been quibbling over all sorts of dopey things before I started taking this wonder drug. Well, there was one minor area where she was not pleased at all. Prozac has a very unfortunate side effect, my sex drive was zero. Zilch. Nada. No can do. After about 3 months of this, I told my friendly doctor about my new problem.

He handed me a free sample of Viagra. Yowza! This was the ticket. I was back in the game! Remember those commercials on tv where the guy is walking through his office and everybody is asking him if he lost weight or if he got a new haircut but he really “asked his doctor about Viagra”? That was me. I called my wife and said “honey, tonight, it’s a date”.

We snuggled up and I popped a little blue pill. The effect wasn’t instantaneous, but certainly within about 5 minutes or so, boing!, there it was, live and in color. We were both quite pleased with my rejuvenation. After we were done, my wife rolled over to go to sleep. But there I was, still rejuvenated. That’s the part they don’t mention in those tv commercials. What do you do with this thing after you’re done with what you needed to do? Eventually I got to sleep, and when I woke up the next morning, everything was back to normal.

Dr. Feelgood put me on Lexapro. No sexual side effects.

For my daughter’s first birthday, my sister insisted on baking a cake for her. This meant that Grandpa would be participating in the festivities. Fortunately I was able to convince him to be on his best behavior. He didn’t make any nasty comments, but I didn’t actually speak much with him either.

Once again, over time, we established an uneasy truce. There wasn’t much that was “safe” for us to talk about anymore except for sports (football in particular). I had become a Jet fan too a few years ago, in yet another lame attempt to find some way to develop a relationship with him. At least it gave us something in common when we needed it.

He developed urinary tract cancer, and had one of his kidneys removed. A year’s worth of chemotherapy put him right again, and he was content to play a little golf and pay the occasional visit to his granddaughter. The cancer came back with a vengeance about 2 months ago, and he died shortly thereafter.

I really felt almost nothing when he died. I was a little relieved; I wouldn’t have to take care of his house anymore. That’s what he was to me in the end, an annoying old guy who I had to take care of. He never said “thank you” for anything I did; he felt it was hid God given right as a father to have me cater to him. At his funeral I went through the motions, but it really didn’t matter to me. I didn’t care that he was dead. When he was still alive he would often slip and throw out some snide remark and my wife would ask me why I didn’t get mad. Honestly, it was because he wasn’t important enough to get mad about. He didn’t frighten me any more. I wasn’t “useless” and I knew it and he knew that I knew it.

My daughter is what’s important in my life now. And I will say this. Everything I do now as a parent is a testament to my own parents, just not how most people who don’t know this story might think. Whenever I’m confronted with a Parenting Problem, or if I’m just not sure what to say to my daughter, I just do or say the exact opposite of whatever they did. So far, it’s working out great. My daughter is a bright, happy, dare I say it, “normal” kid. I hug her every day. I tell her that I love her every day. She tells me she loves me too. Total happiness is in the look she gives me when she says she loves me.

I wouldn’t trade that look for anything. And, I am not going to screw her up.

Goo goo g’joob