Thursday, February 10, 2011


there's something horrible about

"now if it hurts a lot, just raise your hand, okay?..."

and not five seconds later, that perfect little hand, covered in calluses and half-outgrown nail polish, and washable marker, shoots right up in the air. and her boots twitch, two feet north of the plastic boot rest on the chair. and her other hand fumbles with the ribbing on the edge of the creased upholstery. and i feel like crying.

hurt me. hurt me. take this. hurt me. not her. not her. never her. stop.

i watched my little girl get three fillings today. to say nothing of the immediate shame of blowing most of my income on 'wholesome' food and a diet that promotes familial health while ultimately yielding little perfect smiles riddled with cavities, it was with a nauseating mixture of pride and sorrow that i watched her be brave.

women are strong.

save for childbirth, they shouldn't have to be.

it's like i was explaining to a kid the other day: women shouldn't have to learn self-defense. i shouldn't have to use a bike lock. no one should have to guard against the evil of others.

but we do.

and we have to.

and there she was, not literally strapped down, but clinically subject to the application of pain by an institution widely accepted to know best and work for the good of others. she took it like a girl, a calm, wonderful, courageous, wide-eyed, brown-eyed, wonder of a girl. and she didn't cry once.

i was proud.

i was proud because she could take it; because she acted maturely, followed instructions, and shone through discomfort; she responded constructively; she looked away when necessary; she focused when it was time; she held on.

and yet, as i watched my little girl, so full of possibility and wonder and curiosity and courage, i felt a nagging sadness. in that moment, i wanted her, so much, to never take it lying down, to never go down without a raging blistering tornado of a fight. i wanted her to never twitch in pain and let it happen. i wanted her never to hurt. i wanted her to never have to be courageous.

perhaps these are terrible wants. perhaps great things only come from great courage and great pain and seeing the suffering through to the other side. perhaps there is much to be learned in the fight. i understand. and i've already asked much of her. the day she was born we rushed her to the hospital from our warm, cozy home where she came into the world, and they poked her and put tubes in her and put her in a warm plastic box and the smell of plastic and sterile was everywhere and i sobbed on the phone to my mother.

she wasn't more than two hours old, and already, she was courageous.

as she was poked and examined, she screamed with gloriously clear lungs, and she moved her fuzzy dark limbs around and made sure everyone knew that she was boss of herself, and i smiled, and she was perfect. feisty, even.

now she's a big kid with three fillings and a balding dada and a dentist who adores her and her little heart full of courage. i hope she uses it for love.

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