I have been a daddy’s girl as long as I can remember. Ok, I’m a momma’s girl too (I lucked out with two super awesome parents), but my dad and I are practically the exact same person. He’s the guy who introduced me to Jules Verne and gave me my thirst for adventure and travel. He taught me how to make the perfect pancakes. Because of him, my first word as a baby was AC/DC thanks to continuous replays of Thunderstruck and Back in Black. He’s incredibly smart, creative, idealistic and one hell of a cook. I’m thankful to take after him so much.
As a teenager you go through this transition – from worshiping your parents as kids to not wanting to be in a 500 foot radius of them. Hanging out with your parents is no longer the cool thing to do, and so you replace Sunday morning breakfasts with your dad for Shady Maple trips with your best friends. Instead of staying in and watching a movie with him, you opt for boozy movie and manicure nights with your gals.
Then you hit your twenties, and you move a few states away and you realize how much you miss Sunday morning pancakes. And reciting lines from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Which is why it was so important for me to take my dad out for a father-daughter date this summer. Especially considering that the last one was 12 years ago.
Twelve years ago, I was in sitting in Ms. Lawlor’s history class. I was in 6th grade and it was my 11th birthday. We were doing presentations on the 50 states when my name was called for an early dismissal. I went down to the office and my dad was standing there with a big grin on his face. We went and saw Monsters Inc. at the local movie theater and grabbed some pizza afterwards. To this day, it is still one of my favorite birthdays and memories with my dad.
Always being one for sentimentality, I thought it would be adorable to take him to see the new Monsters University movie, to inject some nostalgia into our date. We bought tickets for a Sunday matinee showing, ordered a giant bucket of buttery popcorn and sat ourselves between dozens of other dads and their young daughters. So young their feet couldn’t even touch the ground. Before the movie started I looked around and watched as one dad fixed his little girl’s bow in her hair. She looked up at him and smiled so wide she looked like she could burst and she quickly gave him a kiss on the cheek. My dad had been watching too and we both looked at each other and smiled, remembering the days when my feet couldn’t touch the ground and he had to fix the bows in my hair too, years and years ago.
The movie was good. We both enjoyed it and even laughed a few times throughout. Afterwards, I treated him to lunch at the Olive Garden across the street and we spent the next hour talking about everything from work to weddings to favorite memories. To wrap up the day, we stopped at Dick’s Sporting Goods because he needed a new pair of work shoes. Because he spends all day making deliveries and driving a truck, a pair of good, durable work shoes always set him back at least $100. My dad is always looking out for others before himself, so I knew I wanted to do something extra nice for him. Before I knew it, I was swiping my card at the register and the look of surprise that came over his face made the dent in my credit card balance completely worth it.
A few hours later I packed up my stuff and was getting ready to leave for the 3 hour drive back to Maryland. Before I got in the car he gave me a big hug, told me how much he loved me and appreciated everything I had done for him that day, from the movie to lunch to his new shoes.
I kissed him on the cheek. And I made him pinky swear it wouldn’t be another 12 years until the next date.
I only wish I had known when I was 13 what I know now: that spending quality time with your dad is totally one of the “coolest” things you can do.