Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Look at me - I'm 20!
It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.
All right. I am not a member of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and I certainly am not a Beatle.
But the song reminded me that last Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of this column. Where has the time gone?
Back then, the column ran Fridays in the Lifestyle section. Then it went to Wednesdays, until my recent move to Saturdays.
My very first column was on the joys of fatherhood, and how I thought that being a dad to a daughter -- rather than a son -- meant I could cruise through parenthood while my wife did all the work. You see how that worked out, right?
With that in mind, I'd like to do something I have never done before and run that very first column from Feb. 5, 1993, as a tribute to the very fact that I could think of things to write about for 20 years. Here it is.
I thought when my wife gave birth to our only child, a daughter, in 1984 that I would have it made. Being 33 years old at the time, I was sure that a son would make so many demands on me that I would be dead by age 40. Not so with a girl.
Raising her would be Mom's job. Mom would take care of our daughter's needs, and Sarah would look to Mom for guidance and activities. I would experience the joys of fatherhood without the work.
Almost from the time she stopped nursing, much of my daughter's parental reliance shifted. Nearly every night until she was about 6 years old, I would hear, wafting down the dark hallway from the front bedroom, a little voice calling, "Daddy."
Usually the call was to cover her. A restless sleeper, her blankets would be nearly always tossed off the bed during the night. And I still believe that if she awoke and found that they weren't on the floor, she'd throw them there just so she had an excuse to call me.
Even in play she relies heavily on me, especially when we play monster. Sarah's heavily into monsters.
My wife and I are videophiles, and in our vast collection are all of the vintage horror classics starring Lon Chaney Jr., Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. My daughter loves them. When we play Wolfman, Frankenstein or Dracula, you can guess who has the title role, trying to capture a screaming little girl for his lunch.
However, her fascination with horror flicks came back to bite her recently when she came across a photo of Linda Blair from the movie "The Exorcist." She's never seen the film, yet that one picture and brief description left her terrified, and that night I heard a sobbing "Daddy" come drifting down the hallway.
Reading a soothing book didn't relieve the nightmares, and the only cure, finally, was to let her sleep next to Mom while I crawled into her bed. (My wife slept through the whole episode and was only aware of it when she awoke to find that the person next to her was not the one she fell asleep beside.)
My myths of having a daughter were forged by my growing up in the late 1950s and early '60s, when every boy was John Wayne or Roy Rogers while girls did, well, girl things. But life is not "The Donna Reed Show."
When the nurse laid the blanket-wrapped little bundle in my arms that Memorial Day back in 1984, I was wrong in assuming that my role as a parent would be secondary to my wife's.
And I'm glad I was wrong.
A lot has happened since 1993. Sarah now has a baby of her own, and my knees ache more and I have a lot less hair.
So while I may not be filling this space for another 20 years, it's been a hoot up to now.
Thank you all for making this possible.