I’m thinking “Dad Doof of the Week” could possibly become a regular feature of this blog.  Mistakes in parenting are almost a daily occurence for me.  Maybe writing about them will be therapeutic.

This also is really a lame attempt to showcase my two favorite orange family members in one of my opening posts to my fresh,  unsmudged blog.  I really should write more about Chester, the main reason I am of the opinion that all orange cats have terrific personalities.  I’m pretty sure the same can’t be said for ginger girls, but mine just happens to be the best daughter ever.  Of my two children, Alyssa is the one that resembles me the most both in looks and personality.  She is a bit of a daddy’s girl, not so much in a spoiled way since she really doesn’t have me twisted around her little finger, but simply because she really does want to please me.  Compared to her thirteen year old brother Nate, who is entrenched in the typical teenage male power struggle, she is a regular suck up.  Nate will never openly admit to looking for my approval, even though it’s obvious that he does.  When he does look for my approval, it’s usually when I am trying to focus on something really important,  like write this blog.

Alyssa is sixteen years old.  I should know.  Last week I paid the first quarterly auto insurance bill with our new driver added, a painful experience that has created a unique irony — we have auto insurance paid in full, a great comforting security for my wife and I, but now we can’t afford to drive.  Good thing I like to ride my bicycle, because really the necessity to ride has increased since this past June, when Alyssa passed her driver’s exam and texted a picture of her freshly minted license to me at work, followed by another text message a few seconds later asking to borrow my car that evening, with another text asking when I would be home. 

A common bedtime occurence these days is a hug from my ginger daughter with the question “you’re riding the next few days, aren’t you… (I pause with furrowed brow).. canyou?..(she pouts and bites her lip).. please, dad?”.  I thank God these days for the gift of vitality,  not possessed by many men my age, yet I know that a few days in a row of stressful work days and the 28 miles round trip bike commute is going to make me one tired puppy.

I try to say yes even though it pains me sometimes.

So earlier this past week I let Alyssa use my car to drive to the elementary school to assist with their curriculum night.  Since my checking count was drained from that insurance payment,  my car had only a few drops left in the gas tank.  My instructions to Alyssa as I handed her my keys and my debit card (I don’t often have cash) were to drive directly to the gas station, do not pass go, and put ten dollars worth of gas in the car.

“Yes, Dad”  A smile, a hug, a thanks, a see-you-later.

I relaxed.  I watched some TV.  I wrote a little.  I had a popsicle.  There wasn’t really much else I could do that evening.  That was OK with me.  The couch and I hadn’t spent much time with each other for a while.

My orange offspring returned, peered around the corner at me on the couch, a sweet smile on her face.  She was proud of something.  Like me, her expression hides nothing. 

“I filled the tank for you, dad.”

I must have been white as a ghost.  I blanched as Alyssa’s face went from smile to frown. 

“Oh no.  Oh no, no no no.  We’re going to overdraft.”  The guilt inducing words escaped my lips before I realized what I was saying.  She didn’t cry, but I had just turned a good thing my daughter tried to do into a bad thing.  Daddy doof strikes again.

I tried to smooth it over, assured her that I would go over our check book, figure out a way.  I did, but all I could come up with was provide the hope that two checks not cashed would not be cashed before my friday paycheck.  Reality smacked with a bit of positively tinged optimism. 

Friday came.  No overdraft.  I texted Alyssa, apologized for upsetting her, let her know we were fine.

And my girl keeps on making me smile.  Daddy doofs may be plentiful, but somehow they are always forgotten.