5 For Friday: Dudes Who’ve Moved In On My Turf


Every dad must return to mortal status at some sad point in his life.

My dad’s moment came the day he gritted out an F-bomb while driving a nail – and taking his thumb along for the ride – when I was a kid. I’d never heard anyone outside the playground say what I thought was the worstest bad word ever.

I’ve reverted to mortal status with each of my girls, although I can’t pinpoint the exact time or date. The know now I can’t lift a house. They know now I can’t wrestle an alligator. They know  now I don’t know everything about everything.

I can’t slam dunk. Or hit a grand slam. Or punt the ball to the moon.

All dads must expect this. It’s sad, but inevitable.

What’s worse than sad? To lose out to one of your girls because of some stupid boy.

I’m not talking boyfriend material, yet. We’re talking celebs and athletes, who make some grand impression on a young girl that makes her forget about dad, at least temporarily. They usually need a haircut, I’ve discovered.

Here’s five I’ve lost out to in this lifetime. They’re in ascending order of impact, by the way.

1. Jonas Brothers

Joe, Nick, and … I can’t even remember the other one. They all need haircuts, though. They were the first lads to steal my girls’ attention. The Jonas Brothers played at the girls’ school as an up-and-coming act out of New Jersey, then returned to Charlotte years later for a free show in a parking lot. We have grainy mobile-phone pics to prove it. I’ll give them their props for charity work, although I wouldn’t bet on them in a slap fight against Hanson or anything.

Elise says the girls are so OVER Jonas. As if.

2. D.J. Augustin

Other athletes have dared compete with me: Michael Phelps, Cam Newton, Josh Hamilton. Even Tiger Woods, back in the day. None, though, entered the arena to a booming introduction the way former Charlotte Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin did. Or had the stirring announcement of “Deeeeejayyy!” every time he scored. The Bobcats this offseason let Augustin go, prompting Grace to scream in disapproval and Elise to disparage the franchise for having catapulted her favorite player for a second time (where have you gone, Gerald Wallace?)

A Bobcats player’s worst nightmare? Not another lousy season or a groin injury: One of my girls wearing your jersey. It’s like that cat that used to walk around the nursing home and cuddle up with the next senior to head to the pearly gates. You’re next!

3. Kaka (AKA Ricardo Izecson Santos Leite)

During the last World Cup, the girls and I watched Kaka’s Brazilian team dismantle an opponent on TV, during which the following exchange happened exactly (or quite loosely) like this:

Dad: Wow, girls. Do you see how well Kaka dribbles? How the ball stays moving at his feet, but he stays in complete control?

Girls: *sigh*

Dad: Incredible! Did you see that pass? He’s both strong and fast, which makes him so difficult to handle one on one.

Girls: *giggle*

Dad: He might be the greatest. I’m not sure any player today is such a creative playmaker inside the 18.  Girls? What do you think?

Girls: *with faces on their hands and dreamy smiles on their faces* He always smiles when he plays, daddy.

Dad: *sigh*

4. Giovani Dos Santos

Another footballer, and this one a Mexican. This is Elise’s boy, only. This goal against the United States was utterly ridiculous. For a dude named after two saints, he’s a hell of a player. The thing is, I suspect Elise really does admire his game. I think he plays the way she’d like to play. He’s creative, strong, and a good leader. There’s little fawning over him, as with Kaka. Genuine admiration seems to power this crush, which makes it all at once admirable and even more dangerous.

I hope he knows I have no skill as a player and would resort to thuggish tactics if I ever had to mark him in a match. I hope he also knows no team in its right mind would ever trust me to guard even a patch of grass in their defense.

5. One Direction

Sports fans, do you remember Franco Harris playing with the Seattle Seahawks at the end of his career? Or Joe Namath, with the Rams? Aging, and no match for the boys who replaced them. That’s what they were. This is where One Direction leaves me. Five floppy-haired British boys. Goofy as can be. They’ve totally displaced me. I have the trading value of a Beanie Baby collection.

A Ford Escort. Acid-washed jeans. Every time they’re on the radio, or something new comes out on YouTube, dad loses. Those aren’t pictures of dad hanging around their bunk beds. They’re those dad-burn British lads.

My one moment of One Direction solace: Marie saw a shirt in Old Navy with the smiling faces of a British invasion boy band, and did that little happy gasp they used to let out when I came home from work. She shuffled off to the shirt, only to discover not five, but four British smiles there to greet her.

See, Marie, before One Direction, there were these lads from Liverpool … just like before there was Joe Jonas or Kaka or Harry Styles, there was this dude you thought could lift houses. Or wrestle alligators. Or hit home runs.

And he’d love to take you to a One Direction concert someday. But for now …

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26 thoughts on “5 For Friday: Dudes Who’ve Moved In On My Turf

  1. Oh, Dad, the tide will turn someday and they will realize you ARE the greatest guy in the world. Now that I am an adult, I look at my dad with new eyes, and I really do think he’s pretty amazing. In fact, sometimes I think my husband gets jealous that I rely on him so much. He’ll say, “Why don’t you call your DAD to help you with that?” when secretly he’s just relieved that he doesn’t have to do whatever it is that I need done. Girls with amazing dads are always daddy’s girls.

    • I’ll patiently wait for that day. When the real boys come around and find my girls so perplexing, I’ll use my years of experience to my advantage. They already know they can call me any time, day or night, and I’ll be there – and they probably think they can get a late-night drive-thru milkshake out of the deal, too. The other boys might have a better jump shot than me, or speed on the dribble, or ability to croon, but I know her heart, am fast to know how to handle her and still memorize the playlist of bedtime songs they love.

      Thanks Kathy!

  2. Oh this is so great!!! I think every dad loses their kids to the big dogs at some point eh? (and mom to the boys…hey-maybe I should do a post on mom’s losing their boys? There’s this little adorable girl my son NEVER stops talking about…yeah, she’s cute and all, with those big precious brown eyes and her little school outfits and adorable smile. I see my son giggle and shrug his shoulders in that ‘man I am feeling something new and weird and yummy’ smirk, and all the while his face melts into this light shade of red…while she giggles back and sways back and forth with her hands held together in front as her eyes flash that ‘come hither’ look…all the while I am beeping at pick up waving my jealous mom-freak hands in the air trying to get their attention!!! Oh , drifted off there! Back to your post…) Yes. It is a slow tearing of your heart out of your chest, isn’t it? Oh, but you don’t have the leverage that I have: I often remind my adoring son he came from ME, and therefore he is and always will be forever attached whether he likes it or not!! (God help me… at his wedding.)

    • Thanks Chris. Thing is, I really don’t dwell on it much – the floppy-haired boys and 1,000-watt smiles come and go, but it’s dad who is there playing catch in the park, teaching them to grill out or losing big to them in video games.

      They do get all distracted and fawny over shiny things and big brown eyes, don’t they? You resist the urge to surge toward her in your car in the pick-up line, and I’ll refrain from any threat of bodily harm to the real boys who are starting to make their presence felt.

      Love your comments. I have the leverage in that I’m the parent most likely to let them buy junk food in the grocery store. No, that’s not the same as giving birth, but when a kid’s hungry, it kind of holds more value! I’m not above playing that card.

  3. Love that Old Navy story :) Sorry to hear you’ve lost them now but I’m with Kathy, they’ll most definitely come back around!

    • Loved it too – I just sat back and watched that it was Ringo, not Nile, smiling back at her! They really haven’t gone too far away. It helps that I make kick-ass crepes and share my T-shirts and sunflower seeds with my girls.

      Let’s see you do *that*, Kaka.

  4. Pingback: Why daddy games are more important than a broken vase or three. « Coach Daddy

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  7. Love this! Especially the remembering the times when we didn’t realize our parents weren’t superheroes. I was just thinking about this earlier – my own realization, and then also cringing at the idea of my own. Adorable videos … I’m also not looking forward to the teen idol phase. Haha! Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  8. My daughter is a huge One Direction fan! Even I am starting to fantasize about them… But let’s not go there :)

    Whichever way the tides turn, you’ll always be the number one man in your girls’ lives, make no mistake about that!

    • Directioners, they call themselves, AKA Swiftie haters. I want to read the post about you fantasizing about the lads! I refuse to talk about my thing for Ke$ha in any great detail, especially when my oldest says to me when Ke$ha’s songs come on, “dad, it’s your girl!”

      You’re right about me being their No. 1 man – those Jonas boys have *nothing* on me.

  9. Some day, soon enough…brace yourself dad, you will be coping with your daughters’ real life boyfriends! But they will not replace you, they will complement you, and you know what…they’ll probably share many of the same traits as you because your girls will look for someone just like daddy!

    • I’d rather deal with Kaka for as long as I can – real life boyfriends can wait. I do know they can come and go, with their floppy hair and crackling voices, but I’ll always be their daddy.

      I completely expect them to pick goofy boyfriends, too, if your assertion is right!

  10. Someday your girls will look for a man just like you, their dad, to live their life with, to grow old with. All those celebrity crushes make them swoon, but you, their dad, will always be their hero, and their gold standard by which every other man will always be judged.
    You’ll come out number 1.

    • I hope so Gina. That’s a pretty humbling and sobering thought – and makes me want to make sure I set a good high standard. Celebrity crushes are one Instagram pic from scandal and eventual obscurity, so I’ll take my post over that every time.

      Loved this comment!

  11. I think I would rather lose my child to a celebrity crush myself. Yes, they can spend time fantasizing over this fabulous person, as a parent I know this person wouldn’t give them a remote thought, but kids don’t know this. My daughter recently came home from school with a new boyfriend and it kinda scares me. But I have to remember that I was once a teenager and I have to hope that I raised her right.

    • My best bet is to outwit any daughter’s boyfriends, although, I ain’t as good as I once was. Celebrity crushes are infinitely easier to navigate, no matter how promiscuous Harry Styles gets. I think when the time comes, and my daughters bring home boyfriends, I’ll act like I don’t like him if I do like him, so she’ll think she’s being all rebellious by dating him.

      Think it’ll work? There’s at least a blog post in there somewhere.

      (You were my 1,000th comment, by the way. There are no balloons and grand prizes, but it’s still a milestone! I feel like you should get a game ball or something.)

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