Something I know and I will always know is that Daddy’s little girl, no matter how she grows or where she goes; she will always be Daddy’s little girl. I cannot say what it means to have a son. I never had a little boy. I only have a little girl. I cannot say what the bond is like to have otherwise; I can only tell you what it feels like when a tiny girl’s life looks at you for the first time and says the words, “Da-Da,” which eventually transforms into the word, “Daddy” or Dad.”
There have been books written about parenting. There have been men, very much like myself, who have recorded their thoughts and feelings. There are those who have admitted to their fears and frustrations, as well as those who have admitted to their faults and failures, which all relate somehow, but I say this; parenting is truly a unique process.
No book can prepare you for this. Books and opinions can only be helpful with suggestions. Nothing I write or tell you can explain how it feels to have the victories that come with fatherhood. Nothing I write or tell you can explain the helplessness that comes when your daughter hurts or falls down. Nothing I write to you can quite describe the pain I feel when she cries, or how I have wept because to me; she is so beautiful that I fail to understand how something so perfect came from my body.
My feelings are something that came with experience, and while all feelings are similar because to some point, we are in fact all similar. There is nothing more unique than a parent’s love.
We all have hands. We have fingers that touch and feel. We can grab things and hold them. We all know what it means to touch something soft or feel something rough. We all have hands that we use to reach or wave to someone. We have the ability to make a fist or point in any direction. We are all similar, but every hand is unique because within each hand is a series of fingerprints—and anywhere else in this world, there are no fingerprints like mine. As well, there are no fingerprints like my daughters. Though we all may be similar; well are all perfectly unique, and thus is a love between father and daughter.
When my daughter was at the age where she still believed in fairy tales, I told her stories about friends I had known that were never real and could never be real. They were fictional television characters. Actually, they were puppets. I invented my own little soap opera using these characters. My child would ask me about my old make-believe friends. She asked about them often and I would use actual stories that came from my young adulthood and tell them with the characters from a puppet show.
This came up not too long ago.
My daughter laughed. “Really, Daddy?”
“I mean, really?” she said
To which, I asked, “What?”
“I’m like . . .11 years-old now. “
A piece of me laughed and a part of me wept.
The part our children do not understand is that their youth is only a small porthole in time. As Dads, we hold onto that small window as if it were as important as life itself. We never let go because at the time of her small youth, I felt as if she looked at me like I was her hero. At the time of her smallest youth, I was her Daddy. Though I will always be her Daddy—like most dads, I understand that as she grows she will venture through the world and I will not always be there to catch her when she falls. As she grows, she will need me a little less. She will eventually see wonder differently and innocence too. She will come to an age of understanding and things like my stories of puppets or otherwise will all reveal themselves to a different form of truth.
I am not always a good dad. I make mistakes. I lose my patience. I have yelled and punished and jumped to the wrong conclusion. I sometimes forget myself and place my attention elsewhere when I should be placing attention on my little girl. We do have talks though. We have our cuddle time when I have the chance to put her to bed. I tell her stories about when I was young. Of course, I choose my stories carefully and tell her the most innocent of them all, which I admit are few. She gives me a teddy or stuffed animal to hold and she holds her stuffed Bulldog named Buster. We lay on her bed. She is beneath her covers and I lay above them until she falls asleep. Her pink nightlight sheds a slightly rosy hue across the room. And before I go, I move her long, blonde hair away from her face. I kiss her cheek and say, “Goodnight Punky. I love you.” And if she is not completely sleeping, she responds, “I love you too,” in her little sleepy voice.
No matter where I go or what I go through; no matter if I am frustrated or forgetful of the better times, and no matter how old she will be, my little girl will always be my little girl. Nothing can change this and no one can ever take this away from me.
There was a time, it seemed as if it were only yesterday when she fit inside my arm. She was so small and perfect. However, she is not small anymore. She is less dependent on me and has her own personality. She knows what she likes and she appears to know what she does not like. But this is only so for now. She will grow (because we always grow) and she will like new things and dislike old.
But to me, my little girl will always be my little girl. She will always be the girl that believed I was friends with Kermit the Frog until Miss Piggy came along and became his girlfriend. After that, Kermit never hung around his friends as much and Kermit and I never had the chance to hang out before they got married.
My daughter will always be the little girl that believed Animal from the Muppet Show originally came from the Lower West Side and that he and I were friends.
She will always be the little girl that believe that after he became famous, Animal grew tired of the flashy life. He moved to Hawaii to get away from the madness. “He calls sometimes. But not often,” I would tell her.
As I report this to you, I am thinking about the last time this story line came up. I am thinking about the laugh from my daughter when she asked, “Really, Daddy?” before explaining, “I’m like . . .11 years-old now. I know the Muppets aren’t real.”
But I disagree with her on that one.
The Muppets are very real.
I think this story proves it.
I once told you there is nothing so strong as a mother’s love. This is still true. But there is another side to this. There is no distance so great or time so far apart, not even death or anything in this world can keep a true Daddy from his little girl. And wherever she goes or whatever she does . . .
I will always be there.