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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Satisfied (10/11/04)

TITLE: Scared Girl Walking
By Glenn A. Hascall
10/13/04

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“Can I recite my poem, Daddy?” my daughter, Alyssa, asked at the very moment I arrived home from work.

“Absolutely not!” I smiled a sly grin as I wearily shut the front door.

She utterly ignored my mock refusal and began regaling all who had ears to hear with an elaborate story of polar bears, giraffes, mice, cats, monkeys, crows and swans all in a well timed and emotionally poetic voice.

“You know, Daddy, there’s only two more days before the speech meet,” she advised.

“Really? Only two?” I feigned surprise.

“You’re going to be there, aren’t you?” she requested.

“It’s kind of a busy time at work right now,” I noted her crestfallen face as I completed my thought, “but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

She giggled as she threw her little nine-year-old body in my direction. Alyssa had been practicing this poem for weeks, reciting it clearly and with great effect. She’d never been comfortable in front of people but she wanted to do this. She’d recite the poem at the breakfast table, as she was getting ready for school, between bites of spaghetti, before bed, almost any time that there was an opening in conversation and sometimes even when there wasn’t.

The morning of the speech meet I entered the cramped classroom filled with students, teacher, judges, parents, siblings and grandparents. Alyssa would glance at me trying with little success not to grin from ear to ear.

After we recited the pledges to both the American and Christian flags, Mrs. Clause provided a listing of the rules, then each of the students prayed that the morning would go well and that they would all remember their lines.

The first student recited his poem as his parents made sure the video camera was rolling. We all applauded as the young man took his seat and then we waited for the judges to make their ruling. The same scenario held true for students two through five. As the judges ruled on the skills of the fifth student, Alyssa‘s face took on a peculiar expression. She would soon walk the long row to the front of the classroom where everyone would fix their attention on her and she would spin a fine and memorable tale.

“Number six,” came the compassionate voice of her teacher and Alyssa began scared-girl-walking.

What others seemed to see was a terrified 3rd grader attempting to get through her poem without hyperventilating. They heard a poem devoid of much emotion. They watched a girl who didn’t seem to know what to do with her hands, and eyes that refused to land on anything but her daddy.

The panel of judges cast quick judgment and summarily dismissed her from advancing in competition. Observers expressed visual remorse, but what did her daddy see?

I saw a little girl tackling something very uncomfortable. She had the poem memorized and didn’t struggle with the words. She never asked to be excused from participating and my heart grew two sizes in that knowledge. Was there more to see?

I saw an 8 pound, seven ounce baby girl who only had eyes for her daddy, then the 10 month-old girl who spoke her first word “thermostat” and the girl who showed me her first tooth held in a tiny fist. For a split second the speech-meet-moment had become the embodiment of every second I had ever spent with her. In that moment I refused to notice the stumbles, the lack of inflection, the pity expressed by other parents. You see, I was very proud of my daughter.

As she took her seat to the smattering of applause I walked to her side. She smiled and reached out to me for a hug, which I willingly and happily supplied. I gazed into her blue eyes and told her how awesome I thought she was. She beamed.

For a moment it seemed that there was no one else in the room besides my daughter and me. Perhaps in years to come, Alyssa will forget that moment, however in the annuls of my personal history this will rank among the most satisfying. I think God ‘the Father’ understood.

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! (Psalm 139:16-18 - NLT)


Member Comments
Member Date
Dori Knight10/18/04
oh boy glenn, i can count on you to either make me laugh my fool head off, or cry. this time i'm crying. you are a wonderful writer, but more importantly than that, you are an excellent daddy.

keep up the good work on both ends.

blessings ~

dori
darlene hight10/18/04
Glenn, I just can't even tell you how many feelings this evoked for me. Memories of my dad,memories of my kids and more recent memories of my grandkids. My daughter's first singing competition she was so chalk faced that I felt sure that she would be more likely to faint than to sing but instead she placed second and I stood with my mom having a cry fest. She has a first place voice but truthfully if she had croaked like a frog it would have gotten the same reaction from me.
Corinne Smelker 10/18/04
It's not fair, black mascara is dripping onto my keyboard - you have to stop doing this to me!

What a wonderful tribute, not only to your daughter, but to your faithfulness as a Dad.
shirley shields10/18/04
Great article Glenn, keep up the good work. God Bless
Dave Wagner10/18/04
Excellent submission, sir. Very engrossing, and well-crafted (as is your custom). I especially liked this bit: "the embodiment of every second I had ever spent with her." The piece built so well and that line was like a pay-off. Nicely done.

Two infinitely small quibbles: "emotionally poetic" strikes me as redundant, and even though it may be true, it's extremely hard for me to believe that a 10-month old baby would mutter "thermostat" as her first word. Neither example detracts from the piece, though, which is first-rate.

Thanks for posting.
Joanne Malley10/18/04
Glenn,
You've successfully conveyed the true pride most parents have for their children. Great story telling with warmth and feeling.
Joanne
Glenda Lagerstedt10/18/04
How encouraging to feel that my heavenly Father may see my "failures" in the same light that you saw this situation with your little one. Great slant on what truly matters and on what success is. I want to remember this every time that I would harshly judge another. Fantastic parenting. And great writing.
Glenn A. Hascall10/19/04
For those who are curious - Alyssa's first word was indeed "Thermostat". Strange but true - after she said that incredibly wierd word, the floodgates opened and she continued to talk (mostly in questions) from that point on. :-) Glenn
Mary Elder-Criss10/21/04
Glenn, thank you so much for this piece. My nine year old daughter recited a small poem in church several months ago. She knew it by heart, but when they handed her the mike, she just about froze. between deep gasping breaths, she managed to get it out, and i sat and cried with pride for her. you have captured the love of a parent for their child perfectly. glad i'm not wearing make up right now.
Blantina Jones10/23/04
Awesome! I hope on one of her birthdays, when you deem appropriate, you will give her this essay to read.
Rita Garcia10/23/04
Glenn, Your story is pure satisfaction with every line. As mother of four, your daughter's first word "thermostat" is very much in the realm of possibility! Blessings, Rita
Jan Warrick10/23/04
You sure know how to pluck those parent heart strings! I had a similar experience with my daughter at a science fair. Thank you for reminding me of that wonderful time.