I took my daughter on a date exactly one week ago this Thursday.
It wasn’t a big, noble, pre-planned thing. It’s just that my wife was teaching her night class, and I needed a burger for dinner. So, I took our daughter with me. I was an instant hit with the waitress, a situation helped, of course, by the fact that she was greeted by one of my daughter’s famous grins that has won over every person ever to see one.
I talked to our daughter that evening. I described my burger, and all the goings on of the restaurant. Of course, she didn’t understand these things, but the point is that she cooed and gurgled in response, and we had a conversation.
Somewhere over the course of Valentine’s Day a couple of weeks ago, I overheard two teenage girls having a conversation…you know, one of those sound-bytes you hear in passing. One was telling the other that she had gone to breakfast with her father that morning, because that was his tradition with her each year. I suddenly find this to be an amazing idea. One of the wisest words of wisdom given to me by family when Karen and I were expecting our daughter was that, if I make spending time with our daughter a priority now, that it will be natural later…that it won’t be forced.
A few months ago, I was waiting in line at a different restaurant. In line in front of me was a gentleman I would place in his early 50’s, still dressed as though he had come from the office, and a girl I would place around 15, that I assume was his daughter. She had that “I have to look dis-interested because I have to be too cool to be out with my dad” look on her face, but it had difficulty balancing out with the rest of her non-verbal cues, which read, “I’m spending time with my dad!“
My daughter is at the age where she reaches out for me when she wants me to pick her up. It’s difficult for me to not drop whatever I’m doing, literally, and pull her close. She gets so excited when she sees me first thing in the evening, grinning from ear-to-ear and waiting for her daddy to pick her up.
I think I’m going to steal that Valentine’s Day breakfast idea as our own little family tradition, just as soon as she’s old enough. Because I want my daughter to always be thrilled about spending time with her dad. I want that because I am suddenly overwhelmed with how important it is that she know that she can talk to me about anything, that I am always there to support her.
After all, she needs to know how a true gentleman will treat her, and Karen always says that one of the things that won her over about me was that I opened doors for her on our first date.
So, I took my daughter on a date last week. She’ll never remember the specifics, but I hope she’ll remember the foundation of trust that it’s inspiring. Because it certainly won’t be the last time that I take my daughter on a date.
And I’m going to love every one of them.