The highlight of this weekend for me was yesterday evening, when my daughter (6 years) and I got all dressed up and went to the annual Daddy-Daughter Dance.
It’s an activity run by the local PTO, and I hear that it sells out every year. They decorate one of the middle school gyms with pink balloons and Valentine’s Day stuff, get a DJ and those colored light balls that make me think of roller skating night when I was a kid, some hors d’oeuvres and punch, the whole bit. The idea (beyond fundraising), I think, is to give all the girls an experience of being taken on an evening out by someone who genuinely loves and respects them. It’s really a sweet thing.
I’m glad this is a part of my fatherhood experience, though it’s not really something I was expecting; certainly it doesn’t jog with any memory of my own childhood. Mother-Son Dances, not so popular. I remember one or two Mother-Son miniature golf afternoons in high school, and if I stay in Fenton Gabriel and Susie will have Mother-Son Bowling to look forward to, but it’s not the same.
I cherish any chance like this, to spend quality time with my daughter that doesn’t just degenerate into her running around or screaming. They grow up so fast. I remember the first time I held Datura as a baby, how tiny she was. Now she’s almost seven and growing like a weed. She’ll be taller than me before I know it. Some experiences mess with your head that way, they make you think about the past and the future and how quickly it all goes by. There was a moment in my wedding reception that I think about often — Susie and her father were doing the father-daughter dance, and as I was standing there, I noticed that Datura was sitting next to me, looking back and forth between the dancers and me. And I realized, one of these days we’ll be doing that dance at her wedding. How long do I have? More to the point, on that day, when I look back fondly on now, how fast will it all seem to have gone by?
But I digress. Daddy-Daughter Dance. Yesterday. Good time. The PTO really puts a lot of effort into it. Even some decent coffee for the dads. I had fun, and I think Datura did too. And I learned some things.
- There are a lot more dads around here with two or daughters than I would have expected. You could tell, because they walked in with one on each side, and because most of the paired and tripled daughters wore matching dresses.
- Girls are graceful. Evidently they just have an inborn ability to dance that kicks in around seven or eight. Little boys don’t have that.
- Playing the Macarena was a bad choice. The daughters are too young to know it, the dads are too old to remember it fondly. What happened is a lot of people just looking around awkwardly, and like three daddy-daughter pairs trying to be good sports.
- They really need to find better music. Daddy’s Girl? Really? The one with the shrieky girl on the chorus about a guy coming to terms with having a daughter even though he wanted a son.
- At least they learned one lesson since last year and didn’t play Superfreak. “She’s a very kinky girl, the kind you don’t take home to mother.” is a line that no dad should ever have to hear in the presence of his daughter, and no daughter should ever have to hear in the presence of her dad. According to the DJ, it was some dad’s request. Whoever you are, that’s messed up.
- My daughter’s favorite song, according to her, is the Chicken Dance. Yes, they played it at the dance, but it was the second-to-last song, and it only made it in because my daughter requested it repeatedly. (To any fathers out there, yes, we are responsible for us all getting in a circle and doing the chicken dance, after the night was almost over and you thought you were safe from such things.)
By the way, yes, I did the Chicken Dance with my daughter. I also did the Hokey Pokey. Last year I did the Cha-Cha slide too (this year she was taking a food break during that one). I am willing to embarrass myself for my children, if that’s what it takes for them to have fond childhood memories with me in them. That’s worth several chicken dances, if you ask me.