He didn't even introduce himself at first - just sort of pushed past me and came inside. Looked at Ava - asked if she was okay. Looked at the kitchen counter and saw blood spotted cotton swabs and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. The dish rack was overturned, a broken glass in the sink. He repeated his question "Are you okay, sweetie?"
Turns out my neighbor's wife was walking to the garage about 10 minutes earlier and heard Ava screaming bloody murder and heard a glass break. I applaud her for doing SOMETHING. A lot of people would have just hopped in the minivan (that really is what she drives) and driven, quickly, away. I'm also VERY glad she didn't just call 9-1-1 (her original urge).
You see (as I explained to her very calm and, if I'm being honest, more annoyed with her than concerned about my daughter or myself) the sum and total of the crisis and the screaming and yelling was very simple - earrings. Yep. Just a divorced dad who has never had his ears pierced (no judgement, fellas) trying to coax a scared 6 year old with a clearly infected right ear lobe in to giving up the stud in her right ear, letting me clean it out, and then put in something sterling silver vs. nickle-free, surgical stainless steel, to maintain the hole while we got it all cleaned out.
This seems to be my burden - being woefully out of my element to manage some of these mini-crises that, I presume, most married dads push off on to mom. Hair in the morning? You gotta' be kidding me. Talking to her about the boy in her class I saw her holding hands with at her musical program? 0 to officially uncomfortable in 2.4 seconds. Overseeing the piercing process on Black Friday? I cried more than she did. I even need confirmation from women/moms (who are strangers) who have daughters of approximately the same age when I buy clothes, shoes, and earrings for the only girl that ever really loved me.
I do 98% of the dad stuff just fine. I'm present. I'm emotionally available. I read with her. Talk with her. Listen to her. Art and craft with her. Play with her (stink on ice when the dolls and dollhouse come out). Encourage, and support her. Taught her to swim. Work with her on her grammar and sentence structure. Laugh at her knock-knock jokes. I do homework. Cook with her. Listen to the music she wants in the car and at home. I buy and help her put on APPROPRIATE makeup (lip gloss, nail polish, etc.).
I'm not worried about me as a father or person to have a young person entrusted to in ANY regard. She is more than safe and in more than capable hands. I got the earring replaced. I got the mess cleaned up. I hugged and kissed her cheeks until the tears had stopped and the angst worn off. I calmly explained all this to my neighbor (literally - this ENTIRE blog post was nervously spat-and-sputtered at the man) and he just looked at me and said "I have daughters. And granddaughters. My advice? Get remarried. Fast. It only gets worse, buddy." He shook my hand. Smiled. Said "Take care of those ears, sweetheart. Your daddy is worried and doing his best." Smiled again and walked out.
Crisis officially averted. And without law enforcement. I breathed a sigh of relief when he left but I'd be lying if I didn't admit there are moments - few, and far in-between - where/when I wished I, at worst, had a sister growing up and, at best, still had my daughter's mother under the same roof when these things happened. NOT so I could dump her off on her mother. I would never do that. I'm a better man for being a father - in good times and in bad. Nope . . . I would just like two more hands to restrain this freakishly strong kid and a soothing voice to compliment my gritted teeth begging when troubles come (smile).
SIDEBAR - I have already spoken with Ava's mom about this entire incident and she was very supportive and did clarify, if I had called, she would have happily come over to help manage through the entire ordeal.