When my daughter picked out her new dress for the dance on Monday, the twirl factor played a big part in her decision. I called ahead and ordered a corsage, pink daisies sprayed with sparkles and a velcro strap to fit her tiny wrist. The night before the dance we talked about it as I put her to bed. She was keeping her dress as a surprise for me. I knew it would blow me away.
The day of, I helped paint her nails and her mom curled her hair. I was kind of nervous. I never had dances growing up, my first time would be as a father. The only advice I had received was to show her how a gentleman should treat her. This was in the back of my head as I heard her call to me from the living room that it was time to reveal the dress!
I was sitting in a chair at the kitchen table at that moment. She flew into the room a ball of pink. She twirled in excitement and her dress flared and spun to catch up with her.
She was beautiful.
After a few pictures we headed to the dance. I clicked the door opener on the key chain out of habit, but I caught myself (and her) from pressing the button inside the van to close it.
“When you go on a date, the boy is supposed to open and close your door for you.” I tried to explain. She gave me a confused look in reply because anytime there is a button to open or close a door automatically, she loves to press it. She let me close it anyway even if it did pain her a little.
The balloons and lights were visible even as we pulled into the parking lot. I held her hand and walked her in. I watched her as she took it all in, all the decorations and snacks, which of her friends were there, how so many other little girls were wearing these weird flower bracelets, too. I took her coat off and put her daisies back on her wrist. “When you go on a date, the boy is supposed to buy you flowers.”
We stood in line to get our picture taken and then made our way to the cafeteria where the music was already going. I held her cup of punch while she picked out a flower cookie and after our quick snack she met up with some friends to dance leaving me to mingle with some of the other dads. One dad admitted that his daughter forewarned him, “Dad, I’ll dance with you sometimes, but I also want to dance with my friends.” We both joked that this is the way it should be for about the first twenty years of her life.
Soon it was my turn. I took her tiny hand and helped her twirl over and over again. Twice in a row, opposite directions, we did every kind of twirl imaginable!
Toward the end of the night, during one of the slow songs, she stood on my feet while I danced with her. My mind leapt ahead to that black pit of despair for any father’s mind to dwell. I thought about her wedding day. I thought about how she will pick out her dress then, and wondered if the twirl factor would still play a part. I thought about how I would feel when I saw her in it for the first time. She probably wouldn’t be leaping into the room with it on, but maybe that will still be her personality! I thought, she will still keep her wedding dress as a surprise for me and that I would be able to give her a flower, maybe a pink sparkly daisy to hide in her bouquet, just for old time’s sake. Her hair would be done up and her nails manicured, but even without any of that stuff she would be so beautiful. I would want to tell her, but more importantly I would hope that she already knew it for herself, from the years of me telling her and from the tears in my eyes before I even whispered a word. I thought about after the ceremony, how she may slip off her shoes and stand on my toes. Her dress would be blocking her feet so no one else would see, but we would dance then just like we are now. All this was going through my mind, so I may have said, “One day we’ll be dancing like this on your wedding day. When you find a boy and fall in love.” Her reply, “I know! I can marry Pax!” (No, you can’t marry your brother, but thank you for adding some lightheartedness to this moment!)
We danced together until I was holding her small exhausted body in my arms. She remembered doing the limbo most. I remember the curls in her hair. We will both never forget this night.