Hi.  Have we met before?  I’m your dad.  I remember playing with you while you lay on the floor, unable to crawl or even roll over yet…your tiny hand squeezing my finger with all your might.  I remember your soft breath as you lay on my chest, sleeping ever so soundly.  I remember crying at your side in the PICU after open heart surgery left you helpless at only 11 months of age.  I remember your first steps…your first scraped knee…your first words…your first solo bike ride.  I remember you calling out to me for help in the dark…kissing your boo boos and hugging you close when your friends were mean.  I remember dancing with you as an infant to help you fall asleep…can still recall the words to our song.  I remember reading your favorite book over and over again…and again…and again.  I remember watching your favorite movies so many times that I can still recite them verbatim to this day…10 years later.  I remember driving you two hours round trip through lifeless Kansas at two in the morning just to help you fall asleep.  I remember when tucking you into bed meant butterfly kisses, bumblebee kisses, frog kisses, and looking for the alligators in your ears.

You wouldn’t remember most of that.  And that’s okay.  I wouldn’t expect you to.  You’re twelve now…becoming a young woman…independent…strong-willed and determined.  I wake up some days and don’t recognize the girl you’ve become…the woman you’re becoming.  In my world, you’re still that little girl who needs her mommy and daddy for everything.  Some days, I don’t know who this woman pushing back against us with all this attitude, sass and anger is…I don’t recognize who the young woman I’m looking at is.  Hi.  I’m your dad.  Have we met before?