Once, when the Little Girl was a toddler, a day-care worker was mean to her. I yelled and got the woman in trouble with her boss
What shocked me was not another human's insensitivity; I've logged enough years on the planet to expect low behavior.
I was, however, completely amazed by my own reaction. Buzzers I'd never heard before started ringing in my ears. Heretofore un-secreted acids burbled and bit my insides.
I felt as if my body was expanding, as if I was growing arms and cartilage and extra bone, just getting bigger and bigger until I could completely shield my daughter from more harm, should it come.
I was new rock shaped from fresh lava. I was as adrenalized as a linebacker. I was, at that moment, way too dangerous to be around.
Nobody bled that night, but I wondered: How do veteran parents do it? How do they keep that protective monster vacuum-sealed and benign?
I know that yahoo dads slam coaches and referees at sporting events for perceived slights against Junior. But I'm not talking about that.
This is when there's no doubt your kid is being attacked, or shabbily treated.
Once, when a grown man grabbed at my then-10-year-old brother, my father threw the guy against a brick wall and said, "I don't know what I gotta do to you!"
My father's enraged puzzlement over how he would mete out punishment seemed to frighten the guy more than a simpler, straightforward threat. The man whitened, then shriveled like a spent balloon, leaving my father no choice but to walk away.
My mother once told me she would die for her husband, but kill for her children. I finally understand that.
Awakened by fatherhood, there is a new ferocity in me. I have to work to keep it in check. No Hallmark Father's Day card ever congratulated dad for being a snarling guard dog.
Just don't ever hurt my kid.