I have three kids—each remarkable, each different, and each remarkably different. Each is loved equally, and yet, each in a special way.

It’s easy to stereotype: there’s the first born, “the baby,” and….of course….The Middle Child.

Middle ones, they say, can be both highly competitive and quite adaptable. These survival instincts permit them to deal well with growing siblings.

Jamie Elizabeth was the textbook “middle child.” Blue-eyed, blonde and bubbly, she excelled academically, gave 110% athletically, and always found a way to assuage the differences between the elder son and younger daughter. (Indeed, but for her political leanings, she would make a great Secretary Of State).

Jamie, though, was more than a middle child—she was the FIRST GIRL born to a (then) narrow-minded father. History will record: I wanted only sons. That having been said, her presence, let alone her brilliance, changed the dynamic of our family from Day One and of my thinking forever.

Eyes closed: it is Wrenford, 1980. Balancing infant daughter on a yellow changing table— disposable diaper and all…the thought first occurs to me: WHY twenty some years from now should she have to change her name? In my mind’s eye—even today– I envision that moment. For the very first time it was occurring to me that the rules were different for women.

How was I to know?

I was one of two boys. My Dad had a sister, but she was out of the house before he could read or write. Our mother? Her clan’s male/female caste system is well-documented. Parents, alas, can only pass on what they know. None of the Bogart famiglia had any concept of women. (Indeed, even my Dad’s mom, Grandma Bogart, had to raise her hand to be recognized). Heck, I’d married my first girlfriend and that interaction too was a challenge.

But Jamie was and is special. Her esprit de corps was such that she made her father’s evolution from a “guys only” mentality a pure no-brainer. The lady came with star quality.

She had the social skills to pen pal a teacher at ten, yet still not lose friends. Heck, academic excellence could not dull her popularity. Indeed, J was getting straight A’s long before Beachwood passed a city ordinance prohibiting anything less than a B. Jamie had cool.

And I never once heard her complain.

(Well, once—but she was twenty by then). Spending her junior year of college abroad she was bothered I wasn’t calling. Upon return to the States my daughter vocalized her hurt. And she was 100% right. I’d been AWOL. We’d always been blessed with a direct line of communication and my daughter chose to use it. I made my amends.

Jamie could always blend independence with vulnerability. In a good way.
Like when she cried with a bruised knee on the Hilltop diamond, but refused to leave the game. Or, (gulp), like the night at Ruth’s Chris as she gingerly put me on notice that she was now a woman.

She’ll turns thirty today—our middle one— living in New York with Eric. Thirty years!

She is, of all things…a Yankee fan. (Well, nobody’s perfect).

It’s standard fare for a man to crave a son. I did. But there’s no one adjective that truly captures the dynamic between father and daughter.
And I have two.

I saw it with my ex and her dad; I marveled watching Archie Bunker and Gloria. And don’t ask me about Steve Martin in “Father Of The Bride!”
But HAVING a daughter is better than watching it on a screen. By far.

I only wish I could Tivo them.

Happy Birthday JJ

2 Responses to “NOW AND FOREVER”

  1. Sherry says:

    What a perfect title…happy birthday j…

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