Hey girls. I think of advice constantly for you three, but at all the wrong times. You know, while you’re asleep, or when I’m in traffic, or while I stand deep in thought at the urinal.
So, I’ll do what any reasonable dad in 2012 would do – I’ll write it as a blog post.
Ah, minds of wonder.
They’re always asking. Inquiring. You know, wondering.
My oldest now has an i-Pod, so perhaps her days of inquiry have ended when it comes to dad. Why ask D-A-D when you can just type in G-O-O-G-L-E?
I take note, and each time I do get the privilege of being asked to explain something in our wonderful and complex universe, I’ll do what any (blogging) father would do – I’ll say, “good question, honey. Let me research it, and I’ll blog about it. I’ll send you a link.”
Here’s the first guest post on Coach Daddy – from Erica Stewart, formerly of Modern Parent Online, and now mom behind the blog DevinandErica, which serves to find order in the world of parenting, even as dads like me are kicking up the dust and tickling the kids at bedtime. Be sure to check her out!
When you sit back and think about your dad, my question to you all is, “what makes your dad a father?” I’m sure that at some point, you have come across one of those Facebook posters with a saying such as “anyone can be a dad, but it takes a true man to be a father.” I posed the question on our fan page on Facebook, DevinandErica, but only had one response from Nicki Webster-Schreiber: “I always believed a father was a protector. One who builds you a fort, kills the spiders and scares the monsters away. I never had a father around but my best friends dad always did those things for us.”
When reflecting back into my own childhood, my father did all those things as well for my brother and I. However, most of my precious memories of my father are those from when I was a teenager. One of the best gifts that my father taught me was that unless I was in immediate danger, he allowed me to make mistakes and was there to catch me when I fell. He would tell me if he thought whatever I was doing was a mistake, but would allow me to make the mistake if I was dead set on doing whatever it was (this included dating – oh the horrors that went through his mind I’m sure… Haha).
Then fast forward a bit to the mid-1990’s when the movie, Father of the Bride, was released. Steve Martin’s character stated something within the movie that I always believed to be true with my own father: “While watching your teenage daughter grow up, as a father you always fear of her meeting and the wrong guy. Then there comes a point when you no longer have that fear, but the fear of her meeting the right guy.”
When thinking of that thought posed within the movie, I wonder how my husband will react later in life when our daughter brings home her first boyfriend; or when she talks about marrying her first love. I’m not going to lie, when I think of these things that will happen in just over ten years I get a chuckle. I have no clue as to how he’ll react, but I know that I’ll be there to let him know that all will turn out the way it is supposed to.
But the questions in between are what is a dad supposed to do until his daughter reaches teenage years? My advice: Allow those girls to be tom-boys if they want. Play softball? Sure. You want to play soccer? Why not? Karate? Absolutely (what father doesn’t want his daughter to know how to defend herself). Also remind yourself that you are raising a future woman. Don’t criticize decisions that she wants to make; instead allow her to make them. Be there to catch her when she falls. This may be hard, especially during the teenage years but it is something that is an absolute must. You can’t expect her to have trust in you later in life if you never instilled trust in her to make her own choices, good or bad.
At the end of it all, once she is off at college or married with her own children she hopefully will be able to reflect back on her own life and the cherished memories between herself and you with the same thoughts that I currently have. I’m not saying that my father is perfect, but that’s okay – neither am I. Who wants perfection anyway? Without the bumps in the road you wouldn’t have anything to look back on and laugh at yourself about. Mistakes make us and one another who we are. Without them we would all be Hollywood movies and – – – BORING! =)
Erica currently is trying to find ‘normal’ in a world of ‘abnormal’ raising a 2 1/2 year old toddler and a newborn on his way. Although this may seem typical for most parents, Erica does not have any family or close friends around and is trying to build her ‘family’ from neighbors and others that she meets along the way. Follow her journey here.
Men, we do enough to make ourselves look silly.
We wear fedoras, even though we’re not direct descendants of Vince Lombardi, in Justin Timberlake’s close circle of friends, or play bass in a really cool band, for instance.
We pick fights at youth soccer or baseball games.
We Grow a soul patch or wear skinny jeans. Wrong, at any age.
Nature reminds a man of his age. Thinning hair. Graying temples. Crow’s feat. Gimpy knees. Nature swipes our get-up-and-go over time. (On the softball field, you know.)
True, all of it. It’s why George Thoroughgood’s “Bad to the Bone” gave way to Toby Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was” as my theme song.
A man naturally progresses. His sports hero retires. His alma mater hires a head coach his age. His sports hero lands a front-office or coaching gig. Makes it to the hall of fame.
His sports hero gets sick, or … (Jim Zorn, eat your veggies, please).
The moment that tackles you from behind? Try picking up your soon-to-be high-school daughter from the school dance. When you walk through the halls once decked with her elementary-school artwork and come face to face with this beautiful woman, who just takes your breath away. Part you, part her mama, every bit an angel.
None of these parallels hit me until they were parallel. That’s how it works.
Instinctively, I parked my car in that same last spot in the lot. The same spot I’d picked when I came to watch the lottery to get our girl into Queen’s Grant.
Tonight, I walked toward the front doors, seemingly the man I’d been when I’d held her hand on the way to assembly when she was in kindergarten. Eight years ago.
Man, middle school parents are SO OLD, I thought back then.
I made my way toward the cacophony of middle-school voices, squeals and yells, combustible hugs, exclamation points on every sentence, full of giggles.
I saw myself carrying Elise back to class after she fell asleep in my car, riding back from a kindergarten field trip, her little legs dangling, classmates giggling quietly and pointing.
I insisted on taking a picture on my phone, my hand shaking a bit, the phone covering my face long enough to hide a tear, or three falling. She smiled. Photo snapped. Tears wiped.
Her storytelling began immediately and didn’t stop until we got home. Here she was, still looking so much like the kindergartner I’d left behind on her first day of school in tears.
Only tonight, in high heels, she was looking straight at me, not up to me.
I saw her lift her head up above her classmates when she saw me peeking through the window in the door. I saw her reaching for my hand as we walked back to class after assembly, happy her daddy was here. I saw her bounce up, off the side of my leg, as I bumped her up in the air when the teacher wasn’t looking.
She sang Adele’s latest, breaking between lines of lyrics to tell me about the fire alarm they had at the beginning of the dance, because of the smoke machine.
I saw my kindergartner as she asked me to read a book to the class after they ate lunch. In silly voices.
Was that perfume I smelled? I saw her at age 6, smelling like sugar cookies.
She rattled off about who’s dating who, tales of PDA and conga-line dancing, kids who she adored and kids who annoyed her. I marveled at the red glitter on her mascara-covered eyelashes, same color as the dress her mom worked so hard on the night before.
I saw her through my rearview mirror a drowsy little kid in a car seat, and how many times she conned me into a swing through the Burger King drive-thru on the way home. Scoring the first goal, by a girl, in the school’s co-ed soccer history. Dancing with ME, at the daddy/daughter dance.
Salt-N-Peppa came on the radio. Hugely inappropriate, but nostalgic. Push it REAL Good. “This is what played when *I* went to school dances,” I told her, and then it hit me.
Middle school parents are old. WAY OLD.
But not dead. See, it’ll be time for the daddy/daughter dance again soon, my last such date with Elise before she moves on to high school. I’ll be the dad with the three pretty girls and the best moves of any pop out there. Seriously. It’s my grand finale, with Elise.
Knee, don’t fail me now.
I used to be hell on wheels,
back when I was a younger man
Now my body says, “You can’t do this, boy”
but my pride says, “Oh, yes you can!”
I’ll be the dad hell-bent on staying “Bad to the Bone” – until I break one.
I knew a man who named his first kid after a movie mermaid. No one you know.
My daughters experienced their own Mermaid Stage. Creative leg wrappings and feet bound together at the heel mark the age. Water games center around my quick-footed kids transforming instantly into half girl, half fish, when they come in contact with the water.
They’re only to become human again at sundown. I think.
Or is it sunset? In mermaid movies – Aquamarine, The Little Mermaid, Splash – mermaids scramble at sunset or sunrise. Forgive my ignorance. I had a Dinosaur Stage, a Stormtrooper Stage, even a Future NFL Quarterback Stage.
None of those changed depending on the sun.
So, Daryl Hannah? Ariel? The angelic mermaid with dirty blond curls who rescued me when I fell into Frank’s Fishing Pond in Colorado as a teenager? (OK, so I made that up.) You’re out.
My girls play through it all. Brutal weather. Corrupt referees. Clueless coaches.
They’ve won and lost games in shootouts. Scored colossal goals. Been party to enormous collapses and stunning comebacks.
They’ve taken verbal abuse from opposing parents, been roughed up by overmatched opponents, and could fill a thousand goals with all the post-game crackers and cookies and chips and Powerades and Gatorades they’ve demolished.
Does the game involve a ball? Expect grace, skill and confidence from my girls.
Poor Cam Newton.
Not poor Cam Newton. An NFL quarterback, with multi-year contracts and endorsement deals, cannot be called *poor*, unless he’s gambled his earnings away, or squandered them on wine, women and song, or left them in a Hefty bag in the backseat of a taxi cab.
Or if he’s torn a knee ligament just before the playoffs and can’t play. Then it’d be, “*poor* (insert quarterback’s name here – I don’t want to jinx anyone), he can’t play in the playoffs.”
Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers star quarterback, isn’t poor in any of those ways.
I believe the universe corrects itself.
Track races. Pennant races. Racial races. Yin and yang, alpha and omega. My noble ventures as dad and coach – tempered by those thoughts/actions/decisions that make me forever mortal.
The 11-year-old burping in the middle of Taco Bell.
The dad, only marginally embarrassed. More proud of the effort … wanting to coach her, even. “From the diaphragm, Marie. Project! Belch for that person in the last row, dear. GIVE IT LIFE!” All those endearing comments on my columns about my wonderful fathering?