Sometimes I worry, and sometimes I worry that I worry too much.
Today is my daughters tenth birthday. Ten years of pure joy and occasional terror. I remember the moment she was born with absolute clarity and in all that time she has not changed a bit.
We have always been close, she is my only child and I cherish our time together. While out driving shortly after her fourth birthday we noticed an injured snake on the roadside. Being wildlife carers we took the python to the vet.
The next day my darling daughter was playing in the garden with her mum when she saw a snake. To her mothers horror she picked it up and it bit her on the thumb.
The most terrifying sight I have ever beheld is that of my daughter in the emergency ward. She was so tiny and so frightened, surrounded by equipment, doctors etc…
We locked eyes across the room and I could see the relief on her face, its OK Daddy’s here.
Fighting back tears and shaking with fear I asked “where did it bite you baby?” She showed me her thumb and I could see that it had not punctured but had only scratched. “Oh its OK baby no poison got in, I will take you home”. Her huge eyes swelled with tears and relief.
For once in my life I was a take charge guy, I had to be. The medicos were not familiar with snakes and logically had taken extreme precaution. This response had however terrified my little girl. After some more detective work we established that the snake was a non venomous species anyway. My obscure knowledge of wildlife was actually useful.
Oh if you think I felt no guilt about her handling a snake after seeing me do it you would be wrong. Her mother very kindly never mentioned it in that context but I was mortified that my actions could have lead to tragedy and almost did!
The joy of ten is tinged with sadness. Will anyone ever look at me like that again? Will I ever actually live up to my own expectations? For all this I am a better man. It is the questions we ask that define our wisdom not the answers that we have. I really do look forward to the joy of 11 and 12 and….
a little piece on the rewards of compassion