Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Daughter

I got up at 5:15 Saturday morning to go to work. There was a text message on my phone from my daughter.  I opened it and it read "I love you".  What a great way to start your day out. 
Kelli left a comment on a previous post about my daughter.  It got me to thinking about her and that is where this post comes from.  I was scared to death when I found out that I was going to be a father.  I had not been around small kids at all.  All of my cousins were younger than I was, my friends up to that point all raced and most of them were single.  I had no idea what to do with a kid.  I was perfectly calm sitting on the starting line at a motorcycle race, but the first time my wife left me alone with my daughter ... I was absolutely terrified.
It didn't take long to pick it up though and soon we were having a pretty good time together.  When she was about two, Donna took a job at FedEx.  The increased pay and benefits were great, but she had to work nights.  That meant that Kala and I spent every evening and night together (that Donna worked), I was feeding her, getting her ready for bed and reading to her every night.  There was one afternoon I remember where Donna had been in Memphis for training, so I left work early and picked Kala up from daycare, cleaned her up, did her fingernails and put a nice dress on her.  We met momma at the airport and took her out to eat.  I don't know which one of us was more proud of our little girl.
It was somewhere around this time that I started spending one night a week out with Kala as sort of a date night for us.  I would let her choose what she wanted to do (within reason), some nights it was McDonalds and a movie, other nights it was just eating at a nice restaurant, some nights it was trying everything out at Toys R Us, she had hundreds of ideas.  As she grew older, I used this time to talk to her about peer pressure from other kids, alcohol and drugs, I taught her that a gentleman opens the door for a lady (which I would do for her on our nights out).  In fact, I remember one time I told her that her date should open her door for her to which she replied, "if he doesn't can I beat him up?"  I believe I told her yes.
She grew up around motorcycles so for her, it was just second nature to want one.  She would go out in the garage before she could even talk and just point to my bike and grunt.  I would pick her up and put her on the seat of the bike.  She would grin and grab onto the crossbar and rock back and forth.   Donna gave in and we bought a dirt bike for her for Christmas when she was 12.  The first time I took her riding in the woods, she was quite a sight.  Her blond hair was messed up from the helmet and her face had a strip of dirt where the goggles and bar on the helmet don't quite meet.  But she was grinning from ear to ear.  One time we were riding on Poteau Mountain and she couldn't get her bike started.  I told her that I would turn her bike around (we were in some rough trail for her), start it and she could just ride back toward the truck.  She took off and I walked back down to my bike, started it and turned around and took off to catch up with her.  I rode and rode, picked up my pace and couldn't see her.  My heart sank, I was starting to think that she made a wrong turn and was lost in the forrest.  For the first time in years, I was really scared.  I lit my bike up to full throttle to run back to the truck before I started looking elsewhere.  I finally caught up to her about a mile from the truck.  She was flying... I was so proud!  That was the same year that we took her to an Indy Car race.  It was such a thrill for me to see her excited about the race and again... grinning from ear to ear.  
At around the age of 15 or 16, she had outgrown our date night.  It honestly hurt me, I missed getting to spend time with her, but I also understood.  Doing things with your parents at that age, isn't cool anymore.
Today, we still share a lot of the same interests; racing, music, motorcycles, comedy and movies.  Sometimes, she will call me on my days off and ask if I'm coming up.  She lives about 80 miles north of us attending college now.  She will ask if I can spend the night, I do occasionally, but it always makes me smile when she asks.  
She is engaged to a really good guy.  I think, as a parent, you have an obligation to teach them all that you can, especially right from wrong, give them a good home life, help them through school and give them their first, maybe even second automobile.  After they move out, you just hope that they have listened to a little of what you have tried to teach them.  I think she has done pretty good so far.  
Trying to act like she's not scared as the dolphin kisses her.  lol
Kala and David


Living It, Loving It said...

Nice to see a different side of you Terri. She sounds absolutely great and you sound so very proud.

Cathy said...

Loved reading about you and your daughter. You created some very special memories. Thanks for sharing with us.

tharr said...

Lana and Cathy, I have had a lot of good times with her and I expect to have a bunch more in the future. I quit racing to spend time with her, the time you have with kids is over and they are gone before you realize it. I always expected to go back to racing in one of the senior classes once she quit wanting me around, never thought about anything like RA coming along. Oh well, at least I am still able to ride a bike.

Wren said...

She's just beautiful, Terry. You and Donna have every reason to be proud of your girl. I loved reading this post -- when I was little, I'd have LOVED having a special night each week just with my Dad. We never did that, but spending ANY time with him was always special.

You gave Kala the most important gift a parent can give his or her child -- yourself. :D

tharr said...

Thank you Wren. It became a special night that I looked forward to as well. We both had a lot of fun together.

Kelli said...

How wonderful to read what you wrote about the relationship with your daughter. I think it's so special that you talked with her about important issues and the way a man should treat a woman. And I love what she said about beating guys up. (Love the picture of her on the bike too!) I'm so happy to hear that you like the man she is with now. Thank you for sharing about what a special relationship the two of you have. And it was so thoughtful of you, Terry to provide a link to my blog.

tharr said...

Thank you Kelli. We've always had an open communication line between us. She would tell me somethings that she wouldn't talk to Donna about and she would talk to Donna about things she wouldn't talk to me about. The main thing is that she felt like she could talk to us. I looked for the picture with the dirt across her face but could not find it.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post Terri! Speaks volumes. Wish more men took the role of being a father/husband more seriously. I went through the same reaction when Amy told me we were expecting. I am one of the lucky ones that figured out early that Addy coupled with Amy is and will always be my first priority in EVERYTHING I do. God bless, Mike...

tharr said...

Hey Mike, good to hear from you. Hope you're doing good with the RA.

I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed my new found role as a father. Sure, I missed some good races, a few trophies and a broken bone or two, but what I gained was far more important and lasting. Besides I already had 3 boxes of trophies upstairs anyway!