Friday, September 14, 2007

Daddy-Daughter Dates

Meagan and I went to dinner one evening not long ago on a daddy-daughter date. Our conversation went something like this:

“Good, that hot waiter is here.”
“Is that why you picked this restaurant?”
“Do you think he notices me?”
“How can he not, you’re prancing around for him.”
“I’m going to tell him I want to have his children.”
“Tell him before we order, maybe we’ll get extra calamari.”
“How much are you going to spend on my birthday?”
“I don’t have to think about that for another two months.”
“Well I do, I need to pick stuff out.”
“You don’t think I can pick out something?”
“You have no fashion sense. By the way, what are you wearing to the parents’ reception at school tomorrow?”
“I thought I would just stay in my pajamas.”
“Freak.”
“Just write your phone number on the table. If he’s interested, he‘ll call.”
“I just farted. Do you think he heard me?”

Oh my, how conversation has changed over the years. I can remember when these dates almost always involved a kids’ meal and climbing through tubes suspended from the ceiling or swooshing down sliding boards. As she grew up our dates became visits to one of those ceramic shops where you paint plain pottery and then come back later to pick up your pink and yellow coffee mug covered with sea gulls and smiley faces that is supposed to sit prominently on your office desk.

As she grew older still, we finally began going to movies I could actually enjoy, and after that we turned to racing go-carts, bowling and putt-putt. I loved those dates. My friends often praised me for setting aside an evening each week to spend with my daughter, as if it were some sacrifice on my part that I needed reinforcement for in order to continue doing it. That was hardly the case, for me and other dads I’ve come to know.

One dad has three daughters attending the same school as Meagan. He has a date night with each daughter in her own turn, making sure she gets to do with him what will entertain her the most. With the oldest they catch a movie and then grab a Starbucks coffee afterward. With his middle child he goes camping when he can. When he can’t, they take a hike through some nearby woods and talk about the things going on in her life. With his youngest, he goes fishing and uses catching fish as an exercise in learning to be patient.

I also know of a dad Joel who once while walking with his daughter through a department store found himself standing in the ladies hat section. He grabbed a hat and put it on his head. His daughter Jennifer started to giggle, which only urged him on. “Put on another one daddy," she pleaded, so he did, and then another and another. When he eventually realized they were being watched by a disapproving clerk, he returned the hats to their places and then escorted his daughter to lunch.

Daddy-daughters dates: time well spent, time to be remembered for years to come.

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