Getting their hair done.
Getting their nails did.
Buying clothes. Or accessories. Or jewelry.
All things my girls probably sometimes want, or will want, someday.
But not today. Not on my watch.
The daughter I just had a date with? She learned to score a baseball game with me.
She’ll bait the hook. Grab the fish. Set it free when I release it from the hook.
It’s not as if they’re devoid of a girly side – Elise sports a French manicure. Marie has a penchant for animal print and bracelets. Grace once pouted in the mall because I wouldn’t buy her a pair of jean shorts to go with the “cute top” I’d already bought her (see, dad can take the kids to the mall and *not* spend like a Democrat.)
They’re pretty. They’re fashionable. But they’re also apt to bust out in a kick fight, or collect bugs in a bucket, or beam with pride after a particularly pristine belch.
That’s why when people hear I’ve struck the trifecta of daughters, they say, “aw, man – wouldn’t you love to have had a son? There’s nothing like a son.”
Well, maybe. But I get the Princess Stage, and the Era of Let Me Have Earrings, and the Daddy’s Little Girl Period. Never mind that the awkward dating and discovering boys portions of this adventure still lie ahead.
See, I get all this tender stuff, and daddy/daughter dances and Donuts with Dad and everything, but I don’t have to fret when my boy picks up a Barbie doll, wants to play dress-up with his sisters, or smiles with slumped shoulders as he roots for Thomas the Tank Engine in his latest adventures.
I sort of love this.
It’s well-documented, the adoration I have for when my girls outplay their male counterparts on the soccer pitch. But the real connection comes on days like Monday, when, on a night riddled with rain forecasts, we said heck with it (hell with it, once we got in the car alone) and went to the ballpark anyway for a Kannapolis Intimidators game.
It’d been two years since I’d taken Marie to a baseball game. Wow, what two years have done.
Just as the first batter took his first swing, I stopped in my tracks.
“Marie,” I said, “do you want to get a game program and let me teach you to score the game?”
This is a rite of passage I’d figured men of boys had exclusive rights to.
But quite unexpectedly, there I was, in a minor-league ballpark with the prettiest girl there, explaining bases on balls, the letter K for strikeouts, and smiling when she asked to take over the scoring in the second inning.
Laughing when she drew the line the wrong direction at the end of the half inning. When she was people-watching and missed a strikeout. Loving it when she told me, “this guy at bat is a lefty. He also is the only guy who has scored any runs for them!”
When the rain began in the fifth inning, she made sure our scorecard stayed dry. She didn’t care if she didn’t. We sat in our seats along the first-base line, in the drizzle.
She stomped through mud puddles on the way to the bullpen to ask for autographs on the foul-ball I caught. She asked if we could visit the team store, and picked out a team set of baseball cards.
Yeah, that’s my daughter in the backseat, talking about the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ starting pitcher, and how hard he threw. Flipping through her cards. Asking about the double-header the next day, and continuation of the game we saw.
I looked back and saw her smile. Her Red Sox cap on the seat next to her.
Saturday afternoon, her little sister and I will take our fishing poles to a little pond with a few sunfish lurking. We’ll bait up, cast our lines, and sit and talk. Have a snack. Wonder if the bobber is dipping because of a nibble. She’ll ask the provocative and amazing questions you’d expect out of a 7-year-old sitting pond side with her dad and a line cast.
I can’t wait.
Who knows what Elise and I will do Tuesday for our date? Monster trucks? A walk through the rose garden? Wings and a ballgame? Excursion at the mall?
Whatever we choose, gritty or girly, I know I’ll be there with the prettiest girl in the place.
And the one who can throw the best spiral, I bet.