Had someone told me some 17 years ago that fathering a daughter required getting in touch with my feminine side, I would have ha-ha-ha laughed in their face. Who me? Mister macho sports guy? Mister watcher of Rocky films and everything masculine?
I’m watching ‘Switched At Birth’ with my daughter and wife, getting snide comments about the idiocy of the husband in the show.
“A real husband would have offered to help. Geez, Dad!”
“Sorry, I missed that last part.” Alyssa and Miriam rolled their eyes at each other as if to say ‘yeah, right, sure you did’.
“Ummm, Dad, the mom said she would be right up to bed after she finished washing the dishes in the sink. He said ‘you’re such a gem’ instead.” (another roll of eyes)
“Oh. Instead of what?” TV show dads can be such dorks. I tried to give my best ‘what a dork’ look.
“He should have just helped her. Duh, Dad.” (both women on each side of released a sarcastic psssshhhhh in my direction)
I have learned in the last few years it’s best to take my lumps like a man, sit there in front of the chickie teen soap opera rather than flee. Bonding with my girls over female TV or movie dramas earns extra points. Bonus if I can actually regurgitate the plot, relate to the characters. If I can produce the names of the characters of a show in front of my daughter’s friends, I’m golden.
Ba. Daphne. All in their over the top dramatic situations. Two girls, one a poor deaf girl, the other an artist living like a fish out of water in a well to do family. Both switched at birth.
Anne Shirley. Gilbert Blythe. Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew. All of Green Gables. My own little ginger snickers and blushes every time Anne goes into a tither about Gilbert calling her carrot top. Anne of Green Gables living on picturesque Prince Edward island.
Mean Girls. High School Musical (I know all of the songs, even a few dance routines). And there is always Taylor Swift, One Direction, Justin Bieber, and lots of other girlie stuff.
I learned to appreciate all of those things, entertainment I would never have learned to like had I never fathered a daughter. I do. I even like cats, our cat.
It started with Barney, a big fruity purple dinosaur who, prior to finding out how talented he truly was, was anathema to any guy. Soon my daughter progressed to the Wiggles, once again showing me that four guys singing and dancing in colorful Star Trek costumes could truly be awesome and even masculine. WAKE UP, JEFF!!! Things progressed to iCarly, a truly funny show and Good Luck Charlie.
I read every book in the Warriors series, discussed the intricate details of the clash of wild cat clans with my enthralled daughter and her friends. We stood/sat in line for hours just to meet Erin Hunter, the main author of the series, at a book signing. It was a wonderful time with my daughter, a time when she discovered that I love books. We moved on to the Percy Jackson ‘Lightning Thief’ series, Inkheart, Bridge to Terebithia, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings… and my daughter’s tastes began to mingle with my own.
She became my kindred spirit as I strived to become hers, by sharing whatever I could with her. As I learned to be in touch with my feminine side with her, she in turn learned to enjoy and at least understand what makes her dad tick. Now she can recite most of the key scenes in Monty Python’s ‘The Holy Grail’, guffaws with me each time we watch ‘Airplane’ together, FORCED her boyfriend not only to watch ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ with her but also all three ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies.
Along the way, she has helped complete the relationship I have with Miriam, my wife, by figuring out the things that make me tick that her own mother has not figured out in twenty some years. Daughters are a gift in more ways than one.
One more year I have her. She turned 17 at the beginning of this month. We’re going to visit colleges together next month. I find myself wondering what my life is going to be like without her.
In the meantime, put on another episode of ‘Switched At Birth’, please.