“But I like to RAAAWWWRRRRR….”

collageSomewhere between Heaven and Earth there is a baby delivery system that effectively matches the correct baby with the correct family.

On September 30, 2002 the people in charge of this complex system of delivery showed Amazon, FedEx and UPS how it’s done by giving us Margaret Elizabeth Mische.

Or, as she is called – Maisie.

Today, Maisie turns 14 years old.

Putting aside all of the requisite commentary about how kids grow up too fast there is no question that Maisie has been growing up despite my efforts to guard against such unnecessary certainty.

It is said that there is a special bond between a Dad and his Daughter.

I like to believe that to be the case with Maisie.

But, it wasn’t always that way.

Long before she was born her name was “Thumper.”

Lying in bed at night my wife and I would look upon with amazement as “Thumper” made itself (we had no idea if it was a boy or a girl!) known by creating a remarkable series of visual representations of what was to come inside of her Mom’s stomach.

Sometimes it would be a foot – a hand – but Thumper would pound out a series of coded messages from inside my wife’s stomach.

Fourteen years later she is still giving us a series of coded messages.  Sometimes we figure them out.  Sometimes we don’t.

Along the way she has had a series of Dad inspired names.

Maisie-May.  May-May.  Pooch.  Girl.  Sweetie Pie. Ladybug.

Baby.

Fourteen years ago my wife calmly and with determination brought Maisie into the world.  Thumper’s disguise was removed and there, in front of me, was a baby girl.

Trust me, I though the doctor was lying.

I knew we were having a baby.

But, given the odds of it being a boy or a girl it didn’t occur to me that there was a chance it would actually be a girl.

For a minute or so I needed to grasp the consequences of the fact that I hadn’t even remotely — mentally or emotionally– prepared myself for the possibility that the “it” named Thumper would now be a girl named Maisie.

Don’t get me wrong.  We had determined the name for a baby if a baby born was a girl.

We even spent a fair amount of time doing so.

My wife’s Mom’s name is Margaret.  My Mom’s name is Elizabeth.

So, a girl, in the highly unlikely possibility one was delivered to us by God’s Baby Delivery System, would be legally named Margaret Elizabeth.

But, to the world outside of the legal system she would be named Maisie.

From the moment Maisie took her first breath of life outside of the protective custody of her mother’s stomach she smiled.

Well, after we determined that underneath all of the hair covering her body that she was indeed a baby girl and not a baby monkey!

Dark hair and dark eyes this baby was intending to make herself known in the world.

We brought her home and for far too many days I continued to wrestle with the fact that I hadn’t thought about the possibility of having a Daughter.

It wasn’t that I was opposed to it.  In fact, she was such a sweet baby that I spent most of my time enjoying that new baby smell that was invented long before anybody thought of coining the phrase “new car smell.”

Long after her arrival I figured out that I was scared to death of how to raise a girl.

It never occurred to me to wonder whether or not I knew how to raise a boy.

Because, beyond the physical differences, there are clear differences between boys and girls.  Call me politically incorrect for believing that, but I don’t care and frankly your condemnation doesn’t rankle me in the least.

Fourteen years later with a girl and sixteen years later with a boy the evidence of such differences has validated my point.

But, it also validated something else.

I think I figured out how to raise a girl.

Give a girl the ability to be anything she wants to be, can be and needs to be and she will flourish and grow.

Offer her the freedom and the space to know who she is, and what she believes in and how she can achieve success in her life and she will be confident and poised.

Guide her to reach her own conclusions, reinforce the values of kindness, generosity, sympathy and empathy and she will be known by those around her as a friend who can be counted upon and a person who can be trusted.

Hug her and tell her she is loved every time you can and she will hug you back and tell you the same.

From her earliest beginnings Maisie has never been anybody’s pushover, but she has always been the twinkle in everyone’s eyes.

Maisie would seek out people’s eyes as a baby until they would catch her eye.  Then, like a magnet, she would pull them towards her with a smile that lights up the space between them.

She does the same today.  Her big, brown eyes don’t look away.  They look towards you and with the same pull that keeps the earth and the moon in the same place she will change your life perspective with a smile.

One of my favorite memories of Maisie, and there is no danger of having too few of them, is captured on video with her brother, Owen.

She may have been three or four and he about five or six.

The two of them are having some kind of imaginary battle that every adult secretly has in their minds when nobody’s looking.

As they parried back and forth with their play swords Maisie would constantly do a roaring lion sound by saying “RAAAWWWRRRRR”.

After several times of this Owen stopped the action and said, firmly as Owen was inclined to do then, and is still today, “Maisie, STOP RAAAWWWRRRRRing.”

Maisie, without missing a beat pushed back at her brother, without flinching and simply said, “But I like to RAAAWWWRRRRR.”

And, continued to do so.

Today is Maisie’s birthday.  She is fourteen years old.

I’m a proud Dad, of course.

But, I am prouder still of who she has become with the care and tending of parents who have never forgotten that in our hands was delivered – by God’s handpicked team of Baby Delivery System personnel – a baby girl.

Who liked to RAAAWWWRRRRR…and is RAAAWWWRRRRRing even still today.

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