Playing hero to a daughter … if only briefly | Families

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Playing hero to a daughter … if only briefly
Families

A hero for five minutes. But what a five minutes it was. All thanks to Elmer the Elephant. Or I should say finding Elmer. Which I did. And which made me a hero. Even if for only five short ones.

I’ll take it.

It had been bedlam that morning. Mother and child hurrying about the house, trying to find something. Heck if I knew what. All I knew is it looked like there had been an avalanche of stuffed animals in my daughter’s closet, and there may or may not have been one of my family members trapped below them.

“Is anybody under there?” I called. “Should I go get a shovel?”

I was relieved to see my wife calling from the other room to my daughter — they were late for summer camp. The little girl walked up to me, calm as can be, and asked in her little girl voice, “Dad, do you know where Elmer is?”

Elmer? Who the heck is Elmer?

Elmer! You know, the multi-colored elephant. Come on. You know. We have the book. And we have the doll. Only she had the book — it was there in her arm. But Elmer — the stuffed Elmer — he had gone missing. And it was crucial — downright critical! She had to have him for camp. They NEEDED him at camp. They were COUNTING on him! And did I know where he was.

I thought about it. Because why would I? I love little kid questions. What do they think we do with our spare time? Play with their dolls? Hide them? And they’re so surprised when we don’t know.

“What do you mean you don’t know! How can you not know? You mean you don’t know everything!”

And so maybe it struck me as funny. Maybe I felt guilty. Maybe I thought I SHOULD know. Or maybe I just figured this was one of those chances — one of those priceless little opportunities — when I could show my daughter I am capable of wonderful, miraculous, amazing things.

“You mean Elmer is MISSING!” I shouted. And I sprang into action. My wife started shuffling the girl off to the car as I barged through.

I had only moments to spare.

“Do it, Brian! DO IT FOR CHILDREN EVERYWHERE!” I shouted to myself, racing through the house, rushing first to the pile of critters in her room. Fearing partial collapse and getting trapped myself, I fled the scene and raced up into the loft. I called out, “Elmer! Are you up here?”

No one replied. Time was running short. I could hear them outside climbing into the car. I thought I had failed — missed my opportunity. Oh why … WHY!!!!
And then I spied something. Little legs poking out of a green, plastic bin. No, not just legs … multi-colored legs.

Elmer!

I nearly fell down the stairs, which would have been totally worth it. What a spectacle I would have been — an even more amazing hero! — dragging behind me my broken leg while I hobbled out with Elmer held high above my head.

“Here he is! Now deposit me at the hospital … and find my knee cap!”

I made it out just in time. Just as she was buckled in, and just as my wife was climbing into the pilot seat.

“Elmer!” I screamed out of breath. “Here! I found him.”

The look she gave me. That smile. That pride. Proud of her dad. What a smile. Like I had done something amazing. Like I was a superhero! Me? A superhero?!? Nah … aw, shucks. It was nothing. Ok, maybe just a second-tier superhero … maybe.

What a feeling. I beamed all the way back into the house.

Being a dad is a constant search for moments like this. And opportunities. Chances to prove your mettle— that you’re up to the challenge. That you can fix anything. Find anything. Do anything.

So if some other kid at lunch says, “My dad climbed a mountain,” your kid will belt out, “Oh yeah, well my dad once ATE a mountain.”

Ha-ha! You tell ‘em.

It never lasts. I’ll have to beg for hugs again soon. Demand goodnight kisses and say goodbye 17 times before I get a response.

But for five minutes — five incredible minutes! — I was a hero. And boy did it feel good.

 

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