The most important thing daddy cannot provide

The other day, the Little Girl just came out with it:

“I wish I had a sister so bad.”

It hit me gut-deep. This wasn’t the first time she’d lamented the dearth of a sibling.

A late-life dad, I wasn’t able to have a lot of children. My world is filled with this single, precious girl. But I have a brother with whom I share memories and confidences – the kinds of things my daughter will never know.

I have met lots of only-children who grew up resenting their parents for not providing more company, a close-in companion in the long, tough journey of growing up.

Nothing can be done to remedy this now. That’s why I work hard to try to set up play dates, and to urge the Little Girl to find friends. “You can make another girl as close as a sister,” I say, but what do I know?

I tell my daughter that being the only one makes her special. “All the attention is yours,” I say, as I wrestle and tickle her. “It’s all for you.”

I’m sure there are advantages to that. But I have days when I chalk up my inability to provide a brother or sister to my kid as yet another parenting gaffe. And I foresee a quiet moment, when she is 19 or so, when she’ll say to me that not having a sibling was the greatest pain of her life.

It may be foolish to cringe at awkward, awful moments to come. But I see the Little Girl look wistfully at the bunk beds in the Pottery Barn Kids catalogue. And I know what she’s feeling, and I know what she’ll tell me – at 19, and 100 times before then.