Monday, June 20, 2011

Daddy's Girls

Something happens to a man when he becomes the father of a little girl. While he still maintains the manly gene responsible for finding fishing, golf, and baseball interesting, a soft spot develops in his heart, pushing the baseball cards and golf clubs aside, and making room for all things pink and frilly. 

My dad has never been the typical dad. I mean this in a good way. He was always there, ever present, wholly involved. His odd work hours which began his day at 3:00 a.m. allowed him to also be a room "mom", drive on field trips, serve as PTA president, and drive the carpool to dance and cheerleading practice. Often, he was the only dad there, comfortably chatting among the moms and passing out Gatorade and orange slices during breaks. He knows how to fix a tap shoe, how to turn a tutu into a bustle, and can fix a mean side ponytail. He hates, yet embraces, that glitter is a part of life. And, when challenged by my sister and me, he can do a headstand (well.... sort of...).

Always the "funny" dad, he made up songs about everything, gave all my friends silly nicknames, and kept my slumber parties lively. One of his silly songs still gets stuck in my head for days:
A fish is an animal that lives in the sea. It eats peanut butter and drinks iced tea.
He can quote many a "chick flick" and is only now, with both daughters grown and married, starting to get his fill of movies with car chases and explosions. He is the father of two very girly girls who after attempting soccer and basketball, settled on dance and cheerleading. His life has been full of assembling Barbie's dream house and reattaching Ken's leg and he stopped hunting the day I asked him why he wanted to kill Bambi. He's the daddy of daughters.

Father Daughter dance at my wedding

While I am very much my mother's daughter, so much of me is him. My love of writing and great Southern literature is from him as is my tendency to procrastinate (having watched him, on multiple occasions, write a speech en route to giving it). As a child, he took me on bicycle adventures and, after many painful sessions, taught me how to drive. He taught me how to change my oil, to change a tire, and how to cook. And even as I now have a daughter of my own, I am still a daddy's girl.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby C, part of me imagined how excited he might be if I gave him a grandson. Someone who would appreciate his signed Mickey Mantle ball instead of rolling it up and down the hallway like my sister and I did, diminishing its value with each toss. Someone to share his baseball cards with. Someone who would think bugs were cool instead of shrieking at their presence. 

But, when I told him we were having a little girl, he was thrilled. Thrilled to get to experience the Barbies and dance recitals and tea parties all over again. Thrilled to have a little tiny person with a giant bow shrieking to be picked up and tossed in the pool. Thrilled to now have a Poppa's girl. 

Poppa's girl

Having a daughter changes a man.

I see these changes in Husband as he snuggles his baby girl and sings Disney songs in the car. The youngest of four boys, his childhood memories mostly involve broken bones and dirt bike adventures. He spent summer nights digging for night crawlers while I spent mine catching lightning bugs. His Friday night movie selection was never The Little Mermaid

But, with two sweet nieces and now a little girl of his own, he gets it. He's changed a little to allow room for all of the pink and make-believe. He still loves an afternoon spent watching the Braves, but now, he does it with a tiny person in his lap, explaining to her as she listens intently how each play is impacting his fantasy team. He has mastered dressing her in little lace dresses with slips and teeny tiny buttons and he understands the importance of a properly placed flower headband. But there is oh so much more to come.

And I simply can't wait to watch him from my ringside seat over the years. 

Daddy's girl (perfectly placed
beneath the antlers on Daddy's t-shirt).

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful dad and Happy first Father's Day to my sweet Husband. We certainly are lucky girls to have such wonderful men in our lives.

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