Friday, October 3, 2014

Growing too Fast

            It is a very interesting night for me. Interesting in the fact that I’ve been forced once again to grow as a father. It’s not something we fathers like to do. Nope, as a matter of fact, in my experience from speaking to all fathers of daughters, we don’t like to let our children grow up. More to the fact, our daughters. We want to keep the innocent little princesses they have always been. But time, age and the unstoppable forces of nature are beyond our control.
            Tonight, my offspring of fourteen years is out on her first official date. I’m not a fan of it. How could I be? After all, I remember when I went on my first date. I was thirteen and I took my then girlfriend to see Convoy with Kris Kristofferson. I paid for the tickets, soda pop, popcorn and even ice cream afterwards. There was no parental supervision whatsoever. During the movie, I put my arm around Rhonda, which is her name. Rhonda. My first date. The first of many things for me. She was almost two years older than me and to this day I don’t understand what she saw in me.
            Of course this all took place in another century in a decade of overindulgence and decadence. To be honest, I never met Rhonda’s parents, nor did she meet my mother. I didn’t ask permission to take her out. We just did it. To be honest, we should never even have gotten into the movie because we were underage, but back in the 1970’s, ticket sellers had a pretty relaxed view about MPAA ratings. They just cared about money. It probably helped that I tipped the elderly, blue haired ticket seller five bucks. Which back then was enough for a six pack of beer and a pack of smokes.
            Now, thirty-six years in the future from my first date, my daughter is out on her first date. And my how things have changed. The boy who asked her out was vetted by my wife, as was his parents. And, while the boy is two years older than my daughter, the date is being chaperoned by her parents and the date is taking place at his family’s church. Which is showing a religious movie.
            I doubt this boy will try to recreate my first date. Hell, when I looked him in the eyes as him and his parents picked up my daughter, I saw nothing but fear and healthy respect of the large, hairy man dressed in Harley Davidson leathers and holding a motorcycle helmet. I would have it no other way.
            After all, I spent years trying to have a child and I’ll be damned if anyone will negate the pain, suffering and money spent in trying to attain that elusive goal of passing on my Polish genes for posterity. I’ve chased away many young suitors over the past two years. I also have no qualms about chasing off more. It is a gift all fathers of little girls develop quickly. Usually as soon as they discover they are having a little girl.
            Why do they do this? Simple, they remember all the smack talk and shenanigans they pulled as young teenagers with raging hormones. We recognize our own. As adults we can respect other adults. But as an adult meeting a kid who is on a path of ill-gotten gains, we recognize the up and comers. That’s when our defenses kick in, our guns get cleaned and we find out which friend has access to a back hoe.
            None of us can go back in time and redo our first dates. Or for that matter any of our firsts. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I’d want to. However, as a father of a daughter I can set up certain… road blocks. Make things a bit difficult for any would be suitors. Which I not only do at any chance I can but I also relish in the fear I instill in the boys that are brave enough to ask my daughter out.
            As for my offspring, she looked great. Remarkable. Even stunning. And, if I’m honest, she was more nervous than I was. Her stomach was all tied up in knots and her heart was beating faster than a butterflies. She even admitted to it. Also, for the fifteen minutes leading up to her being picked up, she didn’t leave my side. She held my hand, tightly. She hugged me and said she loved me over and over again.
            When her ride finally arrived, her nervousness grew exponentially. She tried her best to maintain her cool demeanor. I think she succeeded. Either that or the boy was so nervous he didn’t pick up on her nervousness.
            She got in the van with the boy and his folks, they left. I walked away. I was and still am conflicted. As a father, I know I will never be able to clip my daughter’s wings. Much like Daedalus and his son Icarus. You know, he told Icarus not to fly too high or the wax on his wings would melt and he would catch on fire and crash into the ocean. Yeah, Daedalus allowed his kid to fly, and warned him of the dangers, yet Icarus didn’t listen to his folks. He died. This is what all fathers try to avoid.
            We try to instill in our kids safety factors an lessons which we learned firsthand the hard way. Do kids listen? Rarely. I do think that there is minimal risk for my kid on this, her first official date. After all, it is at a church, I’ve spoken with her and there are chaperones. What could go wrong?
            This is the point where I’m going to shut my brain off to stave off all the mischievous, evil and vile thoughts my inner teenager can come up with.

            Have a great week.

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