Clara, my nine year-old daughter, early this morning:
"Dad, I'm kind of upset. I don't have any..."
Then she took a sip of milk, leaving me hanging for a moment, waiting for the next word. And in that moment between the word "any" and the next word, my brain fired off:
"Oh no, what's wrong? She doesn't have any what? Friends? Fun at school anymore? Self confidence? Self worth? Does she have no joy in her life? No parents who understand her soul? No reason to live?"
Then she finished her sip and continued.
"What?" I asked.
"Loose teeth," she repeated. "I don't have any loose teeth right now. I wish I had at least one."
Happily, thankfully, blessedly, I was able to laugh at her for this ridiculous complaint and move on with my day.
But for a second there, my whole world nearly came crumbling down. All things nearly took a backseat to my daughters desperate plea for love or attention or friendship or whatever. For a brief moment in time, the world became very dark and I struggled to see any light.
She has no idea how much influence she has on my general state of happiness and satisfaction, and I hope she never does, or she'll have me in the palm of her hands.