There comes a time when one's daughter will blossom and enter into a new stage of development. During this time, doors will slam, feet will stomp and voices will rise to a new tempo. Tears will course down cheeks and eyes will flash in anger. In other words, a father will enter a whole new world of emotions. We must be prepared.
I was not.
My story is thus:
I took my daughter to a ceilidh where there was much group dancing, food and mirth. I also brought my boys, which included my very shy 5 year old. Everything started off well. The children joined in the group dances and were learning the foot movements and so forth. I focused my attention on my 5 year old and left the oldest to join in the fun. What I didn't realize was that they were not joining in. I looked over, in the midst of a turn and duck under a bridge and there were the boys savagely eating as much chips as they could. But where was my daughter?
There she was. Standing in the corner, watching the events. No one had asked her to partner for the last two dances. Her arms were crossed. Her eyes were flashing and she avoided my looks. The dance finished and I walked over to her and told her I would find her a partner. It was too late. She felt humiliated. She was left out. She told me in no uncertain terms, eyes red and teary, how awful this whole event was and she stormed out and biked home.
I gathered up the rest of the children and we headed out after her. Where did I go wrong? Why couldn't she just join in like the rest of the group?
I realized, obviously too late, that I messed up. I should've been putting my attention not on my little guy, but on my daughter. With the influx of hormones pumping through her system, she was no longer the care free little girl I was used to. The key would've been to either get a guy (I trust) to ask her to dance or, better yet, dance with her myself.
The reality is, in this time of adolescence and becoming, my daughter and I have entered a new dance. My attention to her has to change, my understanding, my interactions have to grow and morph as she does. Our dance needs to get in sync so that we are connecting and not stepping on each other's toes.
She has to trust me to lead her in the dance and I have to prove that I know how to do the dance.