As you may or may not have noticed, I did not write anything here yesterday. I have a very good reason for that. A little before 8 last night, I heard shrieking like I had never heard before coming from my soon-to-be 11-year-old daughter’s room. I rushed to her room and found her sitting on the floor with her left kneecap… Well, let’s just say it was not where it was supposed to be.

I’m not even going to include a picture of the leg brace my daughter is having to wear now because it reminds me of what that knee looked like last night. My knee sort of feels funky just thinking about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a dislocated kneecap, but I would advise you not be curious about what one looks like. And, for Pete’s sake, don’t Google it. I can only imagine what horrors you would find that way.

So with much hopping, crying, and effort, I got my daughter to the minivan, and off to the local emergency room we went. By this time, the shrieking had subsided, but she was still crying. Suddenly, out of the blue, without warning, she blurts out, “Why does bad stuff always happen to me?”

Cue dumbfounded dad moment.

Here I was, the dad, the guy who is supposed to have the answers to questions like this, driving along in the deepest funk of my entire adult life. I was jobless, aimless, and hopeless at that particular moment, struggling to even keep my mind on the crisis at hand, and here was this girl asking me basically the same question I had been running over and over again in my head all day long: “Why does bad stuff always happen to me?”

“Oh, bad things don’t always happen to you,” I stammered. Even I could tell my conviction was lacking. What was I supposed to say? “Well, if you think bad stuff happens to you, let me tell about what’s been going on with me…” I was dumbstruck. The solution I finally came up with will sound completely contrary to any rules of positive thinking and may sound absolutely ridiculous: I started naming off bad things that had happened to other people.

“Bad things happen to people all the time,” I said. “Remember when your sister was having those heart problems? Or when Granny broke her leg? I don’t have a job right now. That’s pretty bad, too.”

Now, of course, tone doesn’t come across in the written word, so those last few sentences may have come across as being from a dad who was giving the “I walked uphill – both ways – in the snow to school every day” speech, but they really weren’t. I just began to spell these instances and others out at a very methodical pace. It was almost as if it was coming from some other place, like I was just a conduit of some sort. I was listening to myself as much as I was speaking to her, if that makes any sense.

I believe in the course of the conversation (which was mainly me talking), we both realized that bad stuff happens to everyone. I have been acting lately as if I have the market cornered on it. I have other friends who have lost their jobs before. I know other people whose cars have broken down on the side of the road. There are plenty of parents out there who have had children get injured worse than mine. Somehow, though, as I was going through all this stuff, it seemed like it was so much worse for me than anyone else. Just like my daughter was probably feeling like no one’s knee had ever hurt as badly as hers did last night.

Since my daughter is going to be laid up for a little while, I swung by a local bookstore and bought her an blog photoadult coloring book and some markers. She’s always loved to color, and she has a real talent for it. I chose a book filled with inspiration quotes, which is somewhat out of character for me. I normally don’t go too much for those kinds of things, but maybe I should. Just as bad stuff happens to everyone, good stuff happens to all of us, too. Maybe my next dad inspirational speech could focus a little more on that.

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