Sunday, January 05, 2014
She is 17 and beautiful. She didn't get much of her good looks from me but she did get some of my stubbornness. Last night she was using Facetime to chat with her latest boy-interest. I popped my head in to ask if she wanted to do a particular activity that I had planned out and got somewhat of a lukewarm reply. I knew why she wasn't interested, understood why, but as a knee jerk reaction I still felt replaced and no longer needed. I asked who it was this time and after a little coaxing she gave me a quick glance at the screen. I'm sure he wasn't a bad kid since my daughter does have a little judgement. He was clean cut, had a nice smile etc....BUT this is MY daughter we are talking about. Then as I left her room I made a comment loud enough to ensure that he heard me.... "Ok honey, I'll be right over in the next room...CLEANING MY GUNS!" and walked out.
Ummm, when did I suddenly take on the angry, impossible to please father role whose sole purpose in life is to scare the crap out of any potential love interest she might have?
Because of regrets, the fear of loss, the realization of age and the unwillingness to accept it. All of this compounded by the irreversibility of time makes for an uncomfortable awareness that she is no longer daddy's little girl. In the blink of an eye, she grew up on me overnight.
All her life, father-daughter moments were lived in-between the commercials of life. My entire world was engrossed in ensuring my family's survival, keeping the lights turned on and food on the table. When I took the girls to the park, they wanted more than anything for me to push them on the swing...push me daddy...pleeeeeeeze? As a dutiful dad, I did..most of the time. Other times I just let them swing on their own because I didn't feel like it. I was too tired or burned out to oblige and it just felt like too much effort at the time.
Daddys... push your girls.
As time wore on, I moved from job to job, survived layoffs, struggled, paid bills, and did what any responsible man should have done. All of this distraction did not stop my daughters from growing up. Those times my mind was clouded with other things and I just waved them off because their concerns were not as pressing as the crisis in front of me at the time are a source of pain.
Daddys, push your girls.
Now, my oldest is a young lady. There is no going back to the swing set at the park or helping her decide what looks best on her Barbie. My whole world is now revolving around making sure she doesn't run off with the first pair of pants that says the right things and flashes the most disarming smile. I know she wont but that doesn't stop me from worrying.
It would be a relief if a young man showed up at my door in a junk car yet had a college degree, a years worth of pay stubs, and a statement from his latest IRA contribution. To me, that shows priorities and forward thinking. Dependability and a willingness to forgo toys and trinkets in order to secure a better future goes a long way with me.
You show me some turkey that puts his money into his car, his sound system, upgrading his phone every year, and wont work overtime but will stay up for hours reaching the next level on some video game and I will show you someone who will be selfish. When the hard times come, and I promise you that they will come, he wont sacrifice like a man. You will argue over money. He will want to run with his buddies, live in denial, and buy toys like nothing is wrong while you sweat it out at home, endure calls from bill collectors, and cry in the middle of the night because of fear and uncertainty. I don't care how hot he looks or how much fun you think he is, such useless slugs are unworthy of your love and devotion. Difficult times reveal character and I pray for your sake that he is a man, not a sperm donor.
Daddys, if you want to have ANY pull with your daughters when her decisions will be long lasting and have terrible impact if they go awry .... push your girls.
Daddys, if you want your word to carry any weight when your gut feeling screams NO because some clown wants to date her...push your girls.
As a dad, my greatest hope is that I have lived enough of a proper example that she will look for the right qualities and trust her gut.
I think I have pushed her enough to qualify... but not enough to feel happy about letting go.
I know that when that fateful day comes, I will hear giggling and the squeaking of a playground swing as I walk her down the asile. It's a sound only daddy's can hear.
I'm predicting that I will be a basket case.
Daddys, push your girls.