I stand in the bathroom, staring in the mirror. I’m examining my face after a fresh shave. My dress shirt is pressed. I’m wearing nice jeans. And, I’m excited because…I have a date! But, this is not a normal date. I never get to choose where I go when I go out with this date. It’s always her decision. It could be a chick flick, dinner, bowling, games night, reading together, or a long walk. But, it’s always her choice. Alas, that’s what it’s like when you have a date with your twelve year old daughter. On this occasion, we are going clothes shopping as she has some gift cards she wants to use.
We head out to my car and I open the door for her. She thanks me. Then, I get in and off we go to a local mall that has a plethora of hip and in-style stores to choose from. She has already predetermined every store she wants to visit. I’m just along for the ride.
The conversation is non-stop. She talks about school, church, activities, sports, clothing, and boys (shudder!). To be honest, it is very much a one-way dialogue, as I only say a few words to let her know that I’m actually listening. As she saunters and peruses through each establishment, I respectfully watch, offering my opinion when requested, and only when requested. When she purchases something, I kindly hold all the spoils as she continues on her mission. Women, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
She eventually finishes and is ready for food. We pick a local eatery to share a nice meal, nothing to extravagant. We (she) talks more and at times, she asks for advice and direction. I try…oh, how I try, not to lecture. But, on these dates, I’m getting much better.
Once we return home, she heads to the kitchen and starts removing all the tags from everything she has acquired. Her younger sister and brother gather around her to take a peek. She proudly displays and models everything for them. I go and sit in the living room. On the way to her room, my date walks over and gives me a big hug and says, “Thanks, Dad…that was really fun.” “It was my pleasure”, I respond, with a big smile. And, off she goes.
I’m proud to report that these dates are not an isolated incident. I have Daddy/Daughter dates with both my girls. And, Daddy/Son outings with my son. It is usually a quarterly activity with each. I’ve been doing it for years. It is something I look forward too. I think it is also something they look forward too. Whether it makes a difference or not, only time will tell.
I can tell you this. As I sit here, with tears welling up in my eyes, I think of that twelve year old girl who is now fourteen. We’ve shared some choice experiences on our dates, as I have with the other two, as well. Ironically, they still want to out on dates with their “dear old Dad”. Again, I don’t know if it makes a difference or not. I just know,for me, it always will.