My oldest daughter, Netanya, just celebrated her twelfth birthday, an enormous milestone in Jewish tradition. Sadly, I didn’t have an opportunity to speak at the birthday festivities, so I thought I’d tell the world what I think of her right here.
My Netanya and I have had an unbreakable bond since she was a small baby. When she just a wee little nothing, there was only one way to get her to sleep at night. I had a cozy little lazy boy in my Baltimore living room. Netanya would settle herself down right across my chest, and before I knew it, she was soundly asleep. More than half the time I would fall asleep right there with her.
And within a short period of time, this became my favorite part of the day. I waited all day long for that fantastic burst of relaxation. And I honestly still miss it all the time.
Netanya is a Miracle
Netanya is a walking miracle. Doctors can sometimes be a bit hard to handle when bringing a little bundle of joy into this world. They don’t know everything, although they would certainly like you to think they do.
In fact, my Netanya story is probably the primary source for why child birth is one of the few areas in the world where I put faith a good chunk ahead of science. Throughout Netanya’s time in the womb, the doctors tormented us with tales of horror. She was going to be born with a whole host of problems. Inevitable problems that would follow her throughout the rest of her life.
And before I could blink, little Netanya Temima was born into this world. Her name was chosen for it’s esthetic value; however, it’s inadvertently laden with an abundance of meaning. The name means “God gave something perfect and unblemished.” The doctors predicted the worst. But they were oh so very wrong. The Netanya that came into my life twelve years ago was absolutely flawless, and she is the blessing of the century. I truly couldn’t imagine life without her.
The Bond Between Father and Daughter
The bond between father and eldest daughter is one that words will always fail to explain. It’s an uncanny allegiance, and an overwhelmingly powerful dedication. But one thing is for certain: People say they would die for others all the time. The words often feel meaningless. When a father is blessed with a daughter, the words take on a profoundly new and intense meaning. It’s like day one of the timeline begins when a father is just waiting to say the immortal words from Clueless, “If anything happens to my daughter, I’ve got a .45 and a shovel. I doubt anybody would miss you.”
And I would do anything–ANYTHING–for my Netanya.
So, who is this Netanya of mine? I would like to speak of three character traits that exemplify who my incredible daughter is.
1) Netanya and Next-Level Empathy
Netanya doesn’t just have empathy. She has next-level empathy. I recall times when as a small child, she knew what I was thinking and feeling, better than anyone else. She has always wanted her Abba to be so happy, and like no one else around, she could tell when I was not.
Netanya, the eternal diplomat, wants everyone in her life to be happy all the time, and works tirelessly to try and make that happen. This can certainly take its toll on her, but she faces up to the challenge all the time.
And that’s why everyone around just can’t stop adoring her. Human and animal alike!
I remember a time when I was looking after a friend’s pet. Her dog and mine pretty much ignored each other for a week. And the other dog didn’t really have much of an interest in being best friends with the human folk of my household either. That’s why I couldn’t get over it when I found both dogs curled up asleep next to Netanya one night. Everyone and everything senses how her caring nature is unmatched. And who wouldn’t want to be around that!?
2) Netanya and Insatiable Curiosity
My precious Netanya wants to learn and know so much. I had such a lovely conversation with her recently as I was trying to figure out things other people and I could get her for the big upcoming birthday. Her intense interests ranged from art to boxing.
I had the pleasure of being there when she opened up a gift from my wonderful new in-laws. They got Netanya a pair of pink boxing gloves. Her mouth went wide as can be and her eyes lit up like nobody’s business.
This young lady wants to learn everything and is dedicated to grabbing a hold of all the knowledge she can. Whether it’s reviewing words with me in first grade or battling her way through Spanish with Duolingo, when she wants to learn something, the dedication and passion are inspiring.
And look out world. She’s known since she was a wee nothing that she wants to be a doctor. I can’t wait to celebrate with her when she finishes (and aces) medical school!
Which leads nicely into number three…
3) Netanya and her Endless Potential
This little angel has no idea how great she is. No clue at all.
Meanwhile, the world is at her fingertips the moment she shoves her shoulders back, lifts her head up high, and realizes how truly amazing she is.
Smart, talented, and beautiful, my little angel has it all. She’s just the right kick in the tush away from achieving whatever she wants in this world.
Netanya, we were close from the day you were born. We are super close now. And I am honored to watch as you get older and more amazing every day. I’m so happy I get to keep watching you grow.
You are a true blessing in my life. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for being you.
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