Monday, March 03, 2008

Sample Daughter-Dad Story

Much to Meagan’s embarrassment, I once volunteered to monitor the safety of her classmates as they were dropped off in the school parking lot each morning. One day I saw a white-haired and bearded portly elderly gentleman walking across the parking lot with a few children in tow. He looked a lot like Santa Claus, I thought, but without the suit.

I later learned he was indeed Santa Claus and had been for ten years in a Nashville shopping mall during the Christmas season. In his early seventies and with that long white beard it’s no wonder children would tell him their Christmas wishes while he waited in the carpool line for his grandchildren to finish their day at kindergarten.

As I got to know about this kind and interesting gentleman I also got to know one of his daughters. In addition to being known as Santa Claus, this man was also known to Sabrena as Big Otter.

Sabrena was one of six children; there were five daughters and one son in her childhood home. Mindful of the unique needs of young men, her dad made a special effort to do “boy only” things with his son. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Sabrena tried to do everything her brother did with her dad. As hard as she tried to be involved, though, she was excluded from one particular activity. She could only watch as her brother and father put on their head bands and Indian costumes, and left the home to attend Indian Guides meetings. Big Otter and Little Otter would not let her follow along then, it was their special time to spend together, just the two of them.

As her brother became a teenager and joined the school diving team, he lost interest in being an Indian Guide, but not Dad. Remembering Sabrena’s interest in the Guide’s outings and wanting to spend as much time with his daughters as he had with his son, he started an Indian Princess chapter for Sabrena.

At last, Sabrena had an Indian name: Swimming Otter, given to her by her father because she loved to swim. Wearing head bands and painted faces, and going canoeing and swimming at the Indian camp, were her dreams come true. She could hardly wait for the big end of the year campout, to participate in the ritual she had seen her brother and dad leave home for so many times before.

The time of the campout finally came. Even though she had grown up quite a bit by then, Sabrena sat in awe as she watched Big Otter gather his tribe around the big bon fire for the opening ritual. He was the chief and it was his role to tell the others of the importance of their coming activities, and the meaning they were to derive from the dad and daughter games and adventures he had planned.

As Big Otter stood in the glow of the fire to speak, his voice boomed while the fire crackled in the background. Everyone was entranced by his story of love and friendship between Indian braves and their daughters, but no one was more mesmerized and proud of the chief than Swimming Otter. She knew that this was the special moment he had created for them to share, just the two of them.

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