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Butterfly Bandages for My Daughter
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Butterfly Bandages for My Daughter

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Butterfly Bandages for My Daughter

Butterfly Bandages for My Daughter
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Commentator Ken Harbaugh usually writes essays for ATC about his experience as a former Navy pilot. Today's offering, however, is about his other role - as the dad of his two-year-old daughter, Katie.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Commentator Ken Harbaugh usually writes essays for us about his experience as a former Navy pilot. Today, he tells us about his other role - as the father of a two-year-old, Katie.

KEN HARBAUGH: I don't pretend that my life is especially difficult, but balancing school and work and family can be a real headache at times. My wife is finishing her master's degree while working fulltime, so I spend much of the day with our two-year-old Katie.

She definitely gets priority over law school, but I still have to keep up with classes. Most of my reading happens after Katie goes to bed, which makes for some pretty late nights. When assignments are due, I know to expect that low throbbing pain to work its way up my shoulders and to my head. Still, I almost always look forward to Katie's bedtime ritual, even though every minute I read books to her is a minute of sleep I'll never get back.

But last week, we had one pretty tough day together and by nighttime, I was too tired even for Dr. Zeus. Katie had been to the pediatrician for vaccinations and they made her feel just lousy. We took our usual pre-bedtime bath and I could see where the shots had gone in to her thigh - there was some red swelling. She pointed and said awie(ph), daddy. Her little voice can break my heart, especially when it says she's in pain.

It was time for some fatherly magic. I went in to the medicine cabinet and got a sheet of 20, tiny, butterfly stickers from next to band-aids. With all the fake seriousness I can muster, I peeled one off and stuck it where the shot had gone. All better, I said. She smiled weakly. I got her jammies on, turned off the lights and tucked her into bed. Lorax? She asked, hoping I'd read her favorite Dr. Seuss book. Not tonight, honey, I said. I laid down beside her and sang songs with my eyes closed.

I don't know how much time past but I awoke in the dark. I could hear Katie's breathing and knew she was asleep. I checked my watch. Only an hour gone by, so still enough time to get some law schoolwork done. And then my head - it didn't hurt at all. The skin felt tight but the ache was gone. I got up, leaned over to kiss Katie's cheek and quietly left. I stopped in the bathroom to splash some water in my face and looked into the mirror. And there, stuck to my forehead, were 19 magical butterflies.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Ken Harbaugh is currently completing his second year at Yale Law School.

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