April 30, 2012. I'd never thought I'd be able to specifically pinpoint the (hopefully distant) future point at which I ceased to be everything in my little girl's eyes. But today, I broke something.
Don't get me wrong--I know she still loves me, and I also know that she knows I love her with all my heart. But I managed to disappoint her in a way I have thus far been able to avoid.
Her 2nd grade class is going to a local park/nature preserve tomorrow. Each 2nd grade class goes twice: once in the fall and again in the spring. A couple of years ago, Alex missed the fall trip due to illness but when his class went to the park in the spring, I was able to chaperon. This past fall, I went along with Cassie's class. I planned all along to skip the spring trip, since now I've made one trip with each child. For me, the day at the park gets really long, and to be honest, I'm not at my best with a group of kids; I just don't have that kind of innate patience. I thought Cassie had known I wasn't going all along. At least, I thought that when I said I'd join her class on their last two visits to the senior home this year, that I also mentioned that I wasn't signing up for the upcoming park trip.
At dinner tonight, she made some comment like, "Don't forget tomorrow!" I had a sneaking suspicion what she meant, so I asked, "What about tomorrow?" "It's the trip to the park, silly!" I asked, "Who's going to the park?" with a sense of dread. I knew where she was going with this. "You and me, Daddy."
I started to explain, "I thought you knew I wasn't going on this trip, sweetie." She looked at me with a smile and said, "Are you joking again?" To be fair, I joke with my kids a lot; they've learned to be skeptical.
"No, I'm really not," I started, trying to think what I could say to ease the blow. As she looked at me, I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. I asked if I made her sad, and she looked away and said into her sandwich, "A little." She was trying to be brave and hide how it made her feel, but the way her voice broke simply killed me.
I've made her cry before, usually for getting upset at the way she and her brother sometimes fight, or for some mess or other that she was responsible for. But the disappointment I instilled upon her tonight crushed me to an extent that losing my cool in front of the kids hasn't before.
I think today was the day I made her grow up a little and start to realize that I'm just a regular person.