I have a large family by some measures. Six kids, four girls and two of the others. Naturally that led to some interesting and amusing moments at times as they grew up. It also had it absolutely terrifying moments. Each had their own special moments that will remain forever in my memory.
My oldest when she was about 13 was signed up for Cotillion by my wife. She thought it would be good for my daughter for all the usual reasons that moms think those things. Don’t ask me to explain where moms get these ideas, they will have to justify that for themselves. But like so many “mom” ideas they are not to be denied. I mean to listen to them the child’s entire future hinges on some particular event or participation in some finite activity and without it their life will stretch before them like a great wasteland of social isolation. I wasn ‘t very excited about the idea and frankly it was something that never would have even got on my radar screen. But this was a decree from her majesty and you disobey at your hazard. I could tell the little lady was most adamant about her going to the Cotillion. We already had several others at the time to make sure weren’t running out into the street and vandalising neighbor’s property. With six on the ground already you can imagine I felt a little pressure to bring home some bacon on a regular basis. But with work and carpools and soccer and the evening routine to make sure all homework was done and baths taken, hey, it was no sweat. I could add that one night a week too. Don’t want you to think the little lady wasn’t busy herself with the afternoon snacks and meals and laundry, etc.
Anyway, she was signed up and the time came for the first session. I was the designated driver, escort, and general pooh bah to get my daughter there and see that everything went well. The sessions were at the local country club which just happened to be the most “ritzy” one in town. She was all dolled up and looked terrific. I was just wearing my standard office suit. I could tell she was very nervous about the event and most reluctant to go. We pulled out and left the house in its usual chaotic turmoil during what my wife and I called the “Viet Cong” hour. We arrived and went in and immediately I noticed that there were a lot more girls than guys. Big surprise. I decided I would hang around for a while just to make sure things were going alright. I faded into the background and observed. Sure enough when they finally got around to the first dance there were lots of girls without partners, including my sweet pea. So, I did the daddy thing and went over and became her partner. For once she didn’t object. She was mortified I know that dad was there but she made no scene about it. We did the two step together along with the other couples. I was the only dad that had hung around. Some of the girls had to partner up with each other. We survived the night and she survived the program. But, my wife upon learning of the events did back off. The others were spared that rite of passage. We had not cell phones in those ancient days and I do recall getting chewed out my the sweet little lady for not calling or letting her know I would not be home to put the others to bed. Pardon me! I felt like the rescue mission for my daughter came first. Ah, the joys of parenthood. I thought my daughter was very brave to endure dad in front of her friends.
Daughter number two had her own quirks and we shared some real moments with her as she traveled the road of growth. We had bunkbeds to accomodate the herd in the house. Everyone wanted the top bunk. She did too and we let her at first. But when we heard those first few “thumps” upstairs and went up to find she had fallen out of the bed we quickly moved her down. This upset some of her brothers and sisters because it wasn’t “fair”. We didn’t want to risk real injury though and she would careen out of the upper bunk regularly until we changed. She also sleep walked. Frankly, I had never really thought that was a real deal until we had her. I figured it was made up. After I finally would get everyone to bed and after going up to quiet them down about a dozen times within an hour, it would get calm and cozy and all would be asleep. Then here she would come. She would walk right into the den and say something completely nonsensical, even for a 5 year old, like–the stair ate the cat. Her eyes would be wide open and she would respond when asked a question or given an instruction, but the response was always completely wacko. We learned that any strange sound during the middle of the night was her roaming around the house. My wife and I soon learned to go with the flow and just enjoy the moment. Sometimes I would wake up with her standing beside our bed talking, not making any sense but talking like a politician. I can’t tell you how many times we laughed ourselves silly with her comments while I walked her back up the stairs to her bed. She would always get back in bed and curl up right away. Even though I was usually pretty tired it always made me smile to take her to bed after one of her adventures. It was something that she and her mother and I shared. Made her special.
She also was afraid of anyone dressed up in any kind of costume. Clowns especially scared her. Halloween was a real challenge. Heck, we couldn’t hardly get out of the house and I was constantly having to cross the street with her to avoid someone dresed up. When we would go to the school carnival or something of that sort I usually would end up carrying her in my arms and promising not to let any of them near her. She didn’t like the characters at Disneyland or Disneyworld when we took the kids there. She was ok if they stayed a long way off. But up and close and personal was not her thing. As a dad it never bothered me because there is always something very tender and moving about a daughter holding her arms around your neck and counting on Dad to protect her.
I won’t bore you with more of the kid stories today but I will later. They all will be covered. Mostly today’s stories make it clear how strong the bond can be between father and daughter. Daughters want dad to be there and Dads love being the knight in shining armor for their daughters. That is as it should be. We dads have been blessed more than we deserve with the love of our daughters.
Just because you are right occasionally, don’t get a big head about it, remember even a broken clock is right twice a day.