When my daughter was 4 years old, someone asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.

"A horse," she answered.

It didn't work out that way.

She turned into a woman instead.

This surprised me more than if she had turned into an Appaloosa.

A woman? When did that happen?

Yesterday she was running scared into the master bedroom in the middle of the night to sleep between her parents, a veritable hot-water bottle with thrashing arms and legs.

Yesterday I was taking her trick-or-treating in her duck costume with the little plastic beak and begging her to call it quits long after she wore out her older brothers.

Yesterday we were playing "sharks" in the family room — it's complicated, but I was the shark and the couch was her boat.

Yesterday I was riding bikes side by side with her to and from school as her personal escort.

Yesterday she was building "fairy houses" out of acorns, twigs and bark in the woods around our house.

Yesterday she was dancing in dance recitals and having sleepovers.

Yesterday she was choreographing a father-daughter dance routine that we practiced in the living room on stormy days, set to a popular song of the day that we no longer can recall.

Yesterday she was asking me nightly to sit on her bed and sing with my guitar as she went to sleep, oblivious to my lame vocals.

Yesterday she was writing frequent notes for me like the one that is still taped on the wall by my desk — "I love you and hope you keep this in your office so it will remind you."

Yesterday her favorite date was riding horses with me.

Yesterday she was driving around town with a Razor kick scooter in the back of her Rodeo, so if ever there was a dull moment, such as having to wait for someone, she could pull the scooter out and zip around the driveway to pass the time.

Yesterday she was scooting over to sit on the middle seat in the back of the car even when there was a vacant place by the window, so she could sit next to one of her brothers.

Yesterday she was a little girl, and it seemed she would stay that way forever, and I couldn't remember a time before her. Then time seemed to accelerate, a blur of school dances and dates and part-time jobs and high school graduation and a houseful of loud giggling girlfriends and college.

Suddenly she had a closet of more than 100 shoes (I counted) — who was this, Imelda Marcos? Suddenly she knew the difference between Versace and Vuitton. Suddenly she wore high heels and was 6 feet tall. Suddenly she liked boys other than moi.

Suddenly, she was a woman.

Suddenly, she was married, as of last weekend.

Can we rewind the videotape and go back? I want to do it all again. I want to take it all in a second time.

Sitting here in my home office, while she is honeymooning out of the country, I am consoled by this: She never completely outgrew her parents, never grew too cool for us. She still asked me last fall about making our annual autumn hike and fishing trip. She still asked me to run with her or go to the gym each day. She still asked her Mom to hang out with her at the mall.

He showed up on the scene a couple of years ago. Last fall he called and asked if he could meet with me, and an internal alarm sounded — maybe he wants to talk about the Broncos or the stock market! Instead, he asked for her hand (the wise guy in me wanted to reply, "But that would only leave her with one!").

Here's another thing I wanted to say: "Look, we have a five-person club here, and all the memberships are filled and we really don't need anyone else, so, um, yeah, maybe they have some vacancies next door." But I didn't say that, and now she has a new last name.

So our family is breaking up — the party is ending, and what a party it's been.

"It feels like goodbye," her brother said. It isn't, but it is.

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself on this Monday afternoon, as I look at that old yellowed note on the wall.


Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. Please e-mail drob@desnews.com.