Saturday, February 6, 2010

Help Yourself...

I think both of the kids are asleep, it was a windy cool day - nothing quite like what they are calling the Snowgasm or Blizzardorama or, from my own creation, Winterbamalamadingdong, up in the Mid-Atlantic States - it was sunny, and the perfect Florida late winter day - a polite reprieve from the summer days that are just around the corner, where the mosquitos don't even bother to leave the shade, lest their wings burst into flame -

Last night I went to the Girl Scout Daddy Daughter dance, and I would like to think, for just a moment, that she is going to remember last night - that I was her first date, that I danced with her, and shared crudites from a cheap paper plate, and that she, by far, was the most beautiful girl in the room - and I was the luckiest father in the room.  Scrolling through my camera today, I got a couple of the photos, and although not the most artistic, or most prolific, it was, for me, a part of growing into a better Dad - it was an accidental photo - an eight year old girl, spinning to greet a friend in the middle of a photo - and funny, although I laughed at her blonde hair as she ran to say hello in the midst of a photo - when I looked at them today, it hit a chord - how many times do Dads get to see that in an average life time - and how many Dads are lucky enough to see as many as they possibly can.

Getting your daughter back, developing a relationship, trying to be a better father is not hard work.  In fact, it is easy.  It is easy to be there, be committed, be supportive, and be a part of that small life, that, for me - for now, is simple and uncomplicated - but for her, a strange experience of growing up and learning what it is to be a young woman, a fun child, a little girl. 

She is one of the best things in my life - she is care free, unassuming, not too worried about what folks think, and pretty much just ready to tackle life when she can - when she has the support that she needs.  This was the first year she built up the courage to ask me to the dance - I think I was the problem in the past - always tired, too busy, disinterested - but the day before the dance, she called, and in her best strong voice, built up the courage to say "Dad I want you to take me to the Dance" - and I have to admit, the old voices in my head came up with a million reasons to do something else - but there was really nothing else - those newer voices, not distracted by work or turbulence at home or just selfishness said "I would love to go to the dance with you" - and shortly thereafter, I was given the short list of rules - no funky dancing, no crazy faces, no screaming and yelling, and no embarrassing her...

Too bad I had to pick her up in the Publix parking lot - she had her toes done, and was wearing white heels with a royal blue dress that made her shiny sea water eyes standout against her blonde hair and pink cheeks - she smiled when she saw me puff my chest - in my best suit, and the closest thing to royal blue I could find in a tie - and she bashfully handed me my boutiniere, and watched as I carefully pinned it to my chest - and there were no other words for me then, other than "You are the most beautiful thing in the world, and I am proud that you asked me to the dance".  That about summed it up - she is the most beautiful gem in the world, but with fire and brilliance that goes beyond anything that riches will ever buy or that kings will ever possess.  Yeah, the grocery store parking lot was not the red carpet that should have been rolled out for her - but to her, I think it was all the same, Dad put on a suit and tie, and smiled and said how pretty I was.

We went to Starbucks, and then to the Cupcake Bakery, and she blushed as the baristas asked where we were going together, such a perfect couple, and she would say, under her breath, in tiny little words - i am taking my dad to the dance...and they smiled and when they smiled, she looked up, and somewhat embarrassed and somewhat proud, she held my hand tighter, and grinned at me, as if to say "Thanks Dad".  The Boston Creme Pie Cupcake that we shared with two forks was sweet, and I took one bite, and just watched her - someday, one person will have the opportunity to treat her with dignity and respect, and I hope that is what he does - but for now, that is my reward - and to fail at that, well, let's just say failure should not be an option. All of us could dwell on those things that did not go quite right, or were just not perfect - but last night, the first dance, the pomp and circumstance, the little woman that asked me - that made up for all of my mistakes - and gave incentive to not make more - it gave reward for being there, for being a Dad -

We only danced three dances before we went into the food line - she wanted to spin - until she got a little dizzy, she held both my hands, and I awkwardly spun her on the floor, her silk scarf flowing behind her, her laughter from ear to ear filling the good memory spots in her mind - and refreshing my spirit -

Sitting down at the cafeteria tables decorated in purple and green, she reached onto her plate, and handed me a chalky licorice flavored heart - and it said in red splotchy letters "I love you" - and I knew she picked that heart, I knew that she felt loved, and I knew, that I was being the Dad that she always wanted - be there now, be there tomorrow, and be there.

I tucked her in late last night, she was still excited about her chorus recital this morning - but tired - and she told me she loved me - and had fun, and I told her that I loved her, and that I could not wait until next year - and most of all - I told her thank you - because if she only knew how much she gave to me last night, that thank you and a little time is a small thing to give back...

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