Being a dad of girls is like being left-handed in a right-handed world.
As a lefty and a dad, I know. Desks, notebooks, and putt-putt clubs aren’t made for you. You adjust.
I’m 43. It’s Richard Petty’s old racing number, and the reason there are always 43 cars in a NASCAR race. The London Telegraph says it’s the age men finally mature. That’s 11 years after women do, according to this Brit rag.
Twitter is loaded with examples to the contrary.
Girl dadding. I write about it a lot because I’ve lived it from the day I first held my first meatloaf-sized amalgamation of half my genes and said goodbye to my heart forever. I’ll get it back in 87 years or so.
What can a dad can teach a girl, let alone three? I know this:
The ticker takes a beating when he worries his daughter will get trampled in an egg hunt.
It swings hard the other way when he hopes she’ll show the boys mercy on the soccer field.
The soul takes a beating when he sees teen boys and creepy grown men leer at his teenager.
It swings hard when he sees her put a boy on his back for crowding her in a match.
The mind takes a beating if she’s sick, or hurt, and there’s nothing he can do.
It swings hard when she masters a spiral or gawks at a black 1965 Pontiac GTO.
Rhere’s a fine line between refined and unrefined. A blurry one.
Girl dadding is a mess of nail polish bottles in my bathroom. It’s hair in my sink and foot injuries from 17 different hair accessories I’ve stepped on in the night.
With these three, there’s also a beautiful, unpolished shell not even I could have predicted.
There are no apologies for public belches. Or hard fouls. Or harsh words. As parents, we’ve wondered how this might impact their ability attract a spouse. Will boys be drawn to these traits? Boy me would have swooned over girls like these.
Grace chooses River Monsters over Pretty Little Liars. Marie would rather wrestle a river monster, in a river, than wear a dress.
Elise can’t resist talking fantasy football when she should study math.
An attempt to refine
When a dad sings “Across the Universe” and “Dock of the Bay” at bedtime, questions follow. “What are pools of sorrow and waves of joy?” and “Why does Otis Redding whistle all the way to the end of that song on the radio?”
Those are proud moments.
You don’t see that in TV dads. You don’t see it when you see a dad pick his kids up for his weekend. Dad time is hot wings, yes, but it’s also museums.
Sure, he’s a softie for extra snacks, but also for flashcards for a big test, or rehearsal of lines for a kid’s part in The Jungle Book.
Congeniality is kind of overrated.
One moment, the girls and I are talking space exploration in the car, NPR on the radio and everything. In an instant, the mood took a turn:
Elise: “oo! Oo! Look! Vultures! They’re eating something!”
Grace: “Sweet!” *presses face to window* “Let’s turn back around and throw stuff at them!”
Maybe it’s just those two.
And their dad.
Marie chose crepes for her birthday breakfast. Not sausage biscuits, not Froot Loops. Not even pizza and pop rocks. So civilized.
I chilled the batter and twirled it around in a pan and flipped the thin frenchy breakfast things for the birthday girl.
I have on Pandora while I cook, which served up Boz Skaggs’ “Low Down,” live version. Any 40-something dad feels slick and badass when this plays.
“This is a badass song,” I muttered as I served up a crepe loaded with cream cheese and chocolate chips.
Grace stood up, puffed out her chest, and, arms back, head lifted to the heavens, ripped out a frenchy breakfast burp.
“THAT is a badass burp!” she exclaimed.
Intellect, culture, and knowledge be damned.
It seems there’s a fine line between refined and unrefined.
A blurry one.