Daughter

I never really wanted to have kids. I’m not really a selfish guy, but kids always seemed like an incredible amount of work. It is hard for someone on the outside…someone who isn’t a father to comprehend what it means to be a father.

And then I had my daughter.

Today she lives with her mother and I see her on weekends. I am and always have been a big part of her life. I miss her when she’s gone. I cherish the time together.

And now my daughter is a “tweenager” with all the ramifications that brings to the equation. Case in point, this past weekend I spent with Kaitlyn.

For those of you not in the know, this weekend was when High School Musical 2 debuted on the Disney Channel and if you know any 12-year-old girls, then you definitely knew the show was on and if any of those girls are related to you, the show was probably running right at 7 p.m. on Friday night. Come hell or high water.

Being the cool Dad that I am, I Tivo’d the show because I wasn’t picking my daughter up until 8 p.m. and I knew she’d want to watch it. She was immediately excited when I relayed this bit of info to her. We got home, kicked off our shoes, made popcorn and watched HSM2. It was a fun little Disney-friendly movie with probably enough story, songs and sappiness to creep into every girl’s heart. That Zac Effron is so dreamy…

Saturday I had to go into the YMCA to get certified in CPR as part of my employment. I dragged my daughter along knowing she would be able to swim and maybe play in the gym for the three hours I’d be in class. As it turned out, she found some friends and they pretty much owned the YMCA that particular afternoon. Not only did they swim and play in the gym, but she also convinced me to take her to the basement in search of “treasures” and upstairs to the third floor in attempt to rattle the McKinley Family Center YMCA ghost.

Even better was Katie receiving some great HSM2 items from the YMCA including a soundtrack CD and a ginormous poster that I need to put up in her room.

Finally rolling out of there after 5 p.m., my daughter said she glimpsed the ghost in the gym windows as we were pulling away. Only later, did I find out there were some “ghostly” happenings in the gym earlier with a whistle and basketballs. Spooky, kids.

Resting for a bit, we decided to go shopping for a bookbag for school. As the Dad, I sometimes am charged with acquiring particularly difficult items for school – band uniform pants, shoes. However, this time it was a new bookbag/backpack. My daughter was very particular about what she wanted and we first searched Old Navy, but came out empty handed. We then headed to the nearby Meijer.

Walking in, we found the school supplies and she found exactly what she was looking for – a red backpack with lots of pockets. If you have children, then you know the look in their eyes when they have found something they really love. I don’t mean the “I’d really like to have it” look. I mean the “I’ve fallen in love with this item. Buy it for me. Please…. Pretty please?”

I took the bookbag and we started walking toward check-out. As I looked it over to see just how much this little bundle of joy was going to set me back, I noticed there wasn’t a price tag. So, we turned around and wandered back into the school supply zone to find the same bag with a price tag.

Quickly finding a suitable replacement, I glanced at the price tag: $49.99. I said, “Oh, fifty bucks.” The crushing blow of disappointment upon her face was staggering. I’ve seen her disappointed before, but this was nothing. This was a crushing blow. She usually rolls with disappointment and moves quickly on to the next thing. That wasn’t happening here at all.

I took the bag from her and we headed to the checkout. I managed a sideways glance in her direction. She was this walking bundle of nerves, “Is Dad going to get this for me?” “Is Dad checking the price?” “Is Dad going to get this for me?” “There’s no way Dad’s going to get this for me. Mom would never buy this.”

Meijer has these great self-checkout lanes and I found an empty one. I scanned the bookbag and it rang up $39.99. It was on sale, but I wasn’t sure it was going to be. We finished the transaction and headed back to the car. Katie didn’t just want to hold her new backpack, she had to wear it.

I asked, “So are you happy?”

She said, “YES!” in the only way a 12-year-old can who has just been reminded her Dad is the coolest can.

For supper, we then had the most fabulous mozarella sticks and pizza ever at Boston’s Gourmet Pizza eating outside and enjoying our evening.

If you don’t know what it’s like to be a father or to have kids, I hope this lets you in on the secret. It’s pretty great.