On fathers and daughters

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.

Oh that guy will certainly have some big shoes to fill.

2. Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she add years to her… add life to her years.

Friday is papadag in our family which means that Daddy stays home with Una and Nestor. It usually means a cataclysm for the house and tons of fun for the kids. Works well for us.

3. Save the day. She’ll grow up looking for a hero. It might as well be you. She’ll need you to come through for her over and over again throughout her life. Rise to the occasion. Red cape and blue tights optional.

He is more of a Spiderman type. And her superhero education has already begun.

4. Savor every moment you have together. Today she’s crawling around the house in diapers, tomorrow you’re handing her the keys to the car, and before you know it, you’re walking her down the aisle. Some day soon, hanging out with her old man won’t be the bees knees anymore. Life happens pretty fast. You better cherish it while you can.

Walking her down the aisle? He is still trying to make peace with walking her through the school door.

5. Pray for her. Regularly. Passionately. Continually.

6. Buy her a glove and teach her to throw a baseball. Make her proud to throw like a girl… a girl with a wicked slider.

It has begun, just replace baseball with netball. We live in The Netherlands after all.

7. She will fight with her mother. Choose sides wisely.

Oh he’ll need all the wisdom he’s got here. It probably won’t be enough anyway.

8. Of course you look silly playing peek-a-boo. You should play anyway.

We prefer Napkin Man.

9. Enjoy the wonder of bath time.

Bath time is his privilege. He also sees it this way if there are no murder-like shrieks involved.

10. There will come a day when she asks for a puppy. Don’t over think it. At least one time in her life, just say, “Yes.”

Replace puppy with fish. And spend every weekend afterwards cleaning the fish tank.

11. Make pancakes in the shape of her age for breakfast on her birthday. In a pinch, donuts with pink sprinkles and a candle will suffice.

Decorating her first birthday cake. At 1am. Enough said.

12. Buy her a pair of Chucks as soon as she starts walking. She won’t always want to wear matching shoes with her old man.

They prefer Timberland. Size 18 and 46.

13. Dance with her. Start when she’s a little girl or even when she’s a baby. Don’t wait ‘til her wedding day.

14. Learn to say no. She may pitch a fit today, but someday you’ll both be glad you stuck to your guns.

15. Tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or “beauty” magazine will try to convince her otherwise.

16. Teach her to change a flat. A tire without air need not be a major panic inducing event in her life. She’ll still call you crying the first time it happens.

Change a tire? She’ll be able to change the rings on the pistons. Before she is in high school.

17. Take her camping. Immerse her in the great outdoors. Watch her eyes fill with wonder the first time she sees the beauty of wide open spaces. Leave the iPod at home.

Can we go sailing instead? Blue wide open spaces are even more beautiful. We are not really camping kind of folk.

18. Let her hold the wheel. She will always remember when daddy let her drive.

He did. And she won’t remember it. She was 17 months old.

19. She’s as smart as any boy. Make sure she knows that.

Not true. She is smartER than any boy. He is not biased.

20. When she learns to give kisses, she will want to plant them all over your face. Encourage this practice.

21. Letting her ride on your shoulders is pure magic. Do it now while you have a strong back and she’s still tiny.

I am pretty sure 21kg is no longer considered tiny. And his back clicks every now and then. Yet she still rides, regularly.

22. She will eagerly await your return home from work in the evenings. Don’t be late.

I think we can count on one hand the number of times he was late for dinner since she was born. I think he scores pretty well here.

23. If her mom enrolls her in swim lessons, make sure you get in the pool too. Don’t be intimidated if there are no other dads there. It’s their loss.

Her mom didn’t enroll her in swimming lessons. Her dad did (to be fair she is still too young for real swimming lessons but he goes swimming with her on Sundays).

24. Never miss her birthday. In ten years she won’t remember the present you gave her. She will remember if you weren’t there.

Miss her birthday? See #13.

25. Teach her to roller skate. Watch her confidence soar.

He will have to. Mama can’t roller skate.

26. Let her roll around in the grass. It’s good for her soul. It’s not bad for yours either.

It’s even better if there is duck poo involved. Again, we live in The Netherlands.

27. Somewhere between the time she turns three and her sixth birthday, the odds are good that she will ask you to marry her. Let her down gently.

Three and a half. He did.

28. She’ll probably want to crawl in bed with you after a nightmare. This is a good thing.

Bolded, for Mark.

In fact, she only calls daddy at night. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that mama doesn’t hear when she or her brother cry.

29. Few things in life are more comforting to a crying little girl than her father’s hand. Never forget this.

30. Introduce her to the swings at your local park. She’ll squeal for you to push her higher and faster. Her definition of “higher and faster” is probably not the same as yours. Keep that in mind.

31. When she’s a bit older, your definition of higher and faster will be a lot closer to hers. When that day comes, go ahead… give it all you’ve got.

32. Holding her upside down by the legs while she giggles and screams uncontrollably is great for your biceps. WARNING: She has no concept of muscle fatigue.

33. Let her know she can always come home. No matter what.

COME home? When she was still a baby and reached one or the other milestone I got all teary eyed and told him that before we know it she would be leaving home. To which he calmly replied “She is never leaving. She is staying with us”.

34. Remember, just like a butterfly, she too will spread her wings and fly some day. Enjoy her caterpillar years.

He does mention, at least once a week, every now and then, that he can’t wait until they are off to college so that he can get some sleep again.

35. Write her a handwritten letter every year on her birthday. Give them to her when she goes off to college, becomes a mother herself, or when you think she needs them most.

36. Learn to trust her. Gradually give her more freedom as she gets older. She will rise to the expectations you set for her.

37. When in doubt, trust your heart. She already does.

38. When your teenage daughter is upset, learning when to engage and when to back off will add years to YOUR life. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

39. Ice cream covers over a multitude of sins. Know her favorite flavor.

Strawberry, hands down.

40. This day is coming soon. There’s nothing you can do to be ready for it. The sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be.

He was talking about importing the rifles he inherited from his grandpa. He probably thought he still had a few years to arrange the paperwork. Too late. She has already asked the boy in the photo to marry her. He said yes.

41. Today she’s walking down the driveway to get on the school bus. Tomorrow she’s going off to college. Don’t blink.


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Filed under Family, Life in Delft

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