Ty Phillips learns what he needs—what we all need—by being there for his daughter.
I need an old priest and a young priest …
It was a cold and dark day. The pale light that broke through the clouds cast eerie shadows through my house, and the creak of the wooden floors added to the already unsettling atmosphere. Her behavior was odd. Unsettlingly odd. Her lack of replies, her vacant and yet deep stares. She lolled back and forth; I could see her body was hurting and the only sound to come from her small and delicate mouth, was a groan that sounded closer to the cry of a scared cat. Then it happened.
Projectile vomit drenched me. Thankfully, I had semi0decent reaction time and it only caught the side of my face and didn’t end up in my mouth. My neck, arm, chest, and clothes on the other hand didn’t fare so well.
“What happened?” She cried. Her confused look and teary eyes pleaded with me to make it stop.
My little girl was having her first bout with the flu.
As I held her and she cried, scared from the stress of throwing up all over me like Regan from The Exorcist, we rocked back and forth. “It’s okay sweetie. Your tummy just needed to get rid of that so you could feel better. You did such a great job.”
Telling your three-year-old that she did a good job barfing all over you may seem odd, but to her, it was reassurance that she was going to be OK. That what happened wasn’t bad, and that the mess didn’t mean she was in trouble. We cleaned up and I held her close. She fell asleep cuddled into my chest and I held her all night. She would stir every once in a while and I could feel her little fingers clasp tight around my shirt. I would stroke her hair and whisper, “It’s okay, daddy’s here,” and she would fall back into a deep, nurturing slumber.
The truth is, we grownups are just like three-year-olds—sometimes we just need to hear that it’s all going to be all right. We trudge through the stresses and trials of life, wearing the masks we make to appear strong and brave. We break down when no one is looking, and walk back out into the world as if nothing happened. Deep inside, even the manliest of men just wants the reassurance that things are going to work out to be OK.
We look to leaders to direct, the strongest to take charge, we thrive in environments where clear objectives are set, and then say with a straight face that we don’t need reassurance—but we do.
Sometimes, many times, it just feels nice to hear we’re doing a good job; that our contribution helped; that in a world that is so much larger than us, we have made a difference for someone.
Start small, start at home, with your kids, your spouses, friends, or whomever, but just take the time to stop. To be fully present with those around us and let them know, “you’re doing a great job.” This kindness, even though small, can pave highways of change for us and for others. It isn’t this single statement that changes it, but it’s this single step that encourages others to do the same. Each stone laid is a piece of that amazing road we all travel; do we make it positive or negative? The choice is yours.