Every Day's A Father-Daughter Dance
It wasn’t until almost seven years ago that I witnessed, personally, the real love of a father for a child. I never experienced it growing up, and I never saw it elsewhere. On one hand, there were the examples of the lesser evil, the fathers who worked late, played golf all weekend, and couldn’t remember their kids’ birthdays; and on the other hand, far worse, were the evil charmers, the fathers who spent too much time with their daughters, secretly giving them the wrong kind of attention. This, truly, was all I knew—learned by myself and from my childhood friends. That’s why I call the small town I grew up in treacherous.
When Lola came along, Greg was so enamored, I had to beg to hold her. I didn’t worry about it too much, though, because history told me that once the novelty of the baby wore off, he’d concoct extra yard work or special projects at the office, or he’d need to go buy socks. But he was still rushing home from work every day when she was two, then three. Maybe even more when she was four and he could take her to the BMX track before it got dark or to the softball field at the church behind our house. It finally dawned on me, this was not wearing off.
He takes her everywhere—Home Depot, job site meetings, to watch the Gators play. They go to the fair, to the Braves games, and Six Flags. He takes her camping for whole weekends, and when I drop in to grin and bear a single night of it, it’s like walking into the Eagle Scout Disco--bonfire raging, party lights winking, music thumping. I watch their unique routine and feel happy and mournful all at once.
He does the things I’m too big a Nervous Nelly to do with her—rollerblading, for instance, as well as the things I’d never have the patience for, such as fishing and crabbing. He’s just as likely (more?) as I am to be the one who attends PTA open house or conferences. He wouldn’t dream of missing a softball game or a school play.
Yesterday, he told me he wanted us all to go hike Panther Creek, a seven-mile round trip. I laughed and told him there was no way Lola could possibly walk that far. I agreed to go anyway, because I knew he’d take her even if I didn’t, and I figured I might as well help with the meltdown. About a mile and a half in, she did indeed start whining. She wanted to go back. She didn’t believe we were ever going to get to the waterfall he promised.
After we reached that destination and they swam, she cried a bit at the thought of the trip back. She made him carry her on his back for a while, and then—a major shock to me--she cheered up and finished the hike on her own two feet, with more good humor and vigor than either of us. “Don’t you say anything to remind her about before, Tania,” my husband warned, “She’s allowed 10 or 15 minutes of crying on a seven-mile hike.” Believe me, I'd learned my lesson.
They’ve done this kind of thing before, see. He knows what Lola is made of.