She held my hand as we walked into the exam room behind the nurse. The nurse asks, “How are you feeling today, Penny?” And she’s staring right at me with that petrified look she gets when strangers talk to her when the nurse asks “Are you feeling okay, Penny?” And that’s when it happens.
Neither of us know what’s happening, but she lets her guard down and completely trusts everyone in the room. Instead of turning away, Penny turns her head to face the nurse, looks her right in the eyes, and without hesitation, says “My neck hurts.?
She can’t believe she just did that.
I can’t believe she just did that.
There’s a quick glance back to me asking, “Daddy did you see that?” And I’m immediately flashing back, “OMG, I am so proud of you right now!”
Her voice honest. Her gaze unflinching. And yet, it’s clear she’s giving this stoic performance under considerable duress–millions of years of evolutionary programming tells her to flee larger predators. And she’s having conversation with a stranger about her vulnerabilities. And that’s when it happens again.
In that moment, right after the last one, when I’m lost in a spell and she’s all I see, my mind allows me the gift of total consciousness. In that moment, when I saw only her, she connected the dots between, “Gee, I guess I’m not scared anymore,” and “Holy shit, I am a person deserving of respect just like everyone else.”
I got to see that. I was in the right place at the right time and I was absolutely 100% focused on her when it happened. She trusted me completely, did something that scared the shit out of her, and figured out a huge piece of the whole life puzzle. And she knows i saw it
And we’re both pretty jazzed about it.
Also Penny has strep throat.