While growing up, I was a klutz who spent many nights in the emergency room. There was never a year that I didn't spend some time in the hospital.
There was a concussion after running into a pole while in a kindergarten, a broken rib suffered in a baseball game as a 12-year-old, a deep cut to my right knee from a bike spoke, and I almost cut a pinkie finger off while working as a slicer at an Italian restaurant as a teenager. Throw in four surgeries for various health issues, and it shouldn't surprise that many of the hospital staff knew me on a first name basis.
After each trip, my parents always had some gift waiting for me at home. It always made me feel loved when I walked into my room and found some present waiting for me on my bed.
On Thursday afternoon, I was able to do the same thing for one my own daughters. I received a call during my last class from her mother that Shelby split her chin open after falling on a toy box. I left work in a hurry and spent the afternoon with my six-year-old in a local urgent care.
The result was a night that neither of us will ever forget.
She received six stitches to close up a cut that the doctor said was one of the worst she had seen. My daughter was a trooper during the ordeal and I knew I had to come up with something to give her like my parents had for me after my hospital visits.
I had two tickets to a Los Angeles Lakers' game later that night and had troubles finding someone to go with me. While waiting to be seen, I had received a number of text messages from friends saying that for some reason or other they would not be able to join me to watch one of the best teams in the NBA.
Shelby kept telling me different friends I should try and invite to the game, but never came up with person I knew I should take.
"Hey, I know someone I can take to the game," I said.
She smiled so big at my response that the doctor warned her about possibly reopening her cut. We both laughed at that and walked hand in hand out the door.
She talked endlessly during the two-hour drive and never stopped asking questions about what she was going to see. I have never seen her so excited, however, it would have been nice for a few quiet moments while trying to navigate through LA traffic.
As soon as we walked into Staples Center, she had to have a Lakers' t-shirt, a foam finger in the shape of the No. 1 sign, an ice cream cone, and a large bottle of water. She was quickly becoming an expensive date.
While waiting for the game to start, she asked me what I thought was an innocent question. It ended up being a dig at her old man.
"Dad, who do you think will win the game?"
"The Lakers are going to win for sure, baby."
"Well, that will be nice. Your basketball and football teams never win."
She is definitely my daughter.
Despite that comment, we had a great night and the Lakers did win. She stood up the entire game cheering and yelling "MVP" every time the Kobe Bryant got the ball.
As we walked out, she said thanks and that she had a great time. Shelby even said that she was glad that she got hurt and was able to spend the night all on her own with me.
I couldn't have agreed with her more.
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