You look beautiful. I mean, you always look beautiful, but on this evening, dressed in the gown your grandmother bought you on a whim, you look enchanting. Your mother has helped you with your hair and as dusk turns into evening, we head to your school for your first school dance.
On this night, you have the good fortune of having two wonderful (if I do say so myself) escorts. TheMonk of course, dressed in his finest plaid, and your Daddy. I have chosen slacks, a light green dress shirt and blazer to match. We are the best looking trio at the dance.
And as we enter the dark auditorium, the sparkles from the disco ball and the laser lights bouncing around the room as the bass pumps from a song I only vaguely know, I look to you and your brother to see how you will react. In the not-so-long-ago distance you would cling to me with uncertainty and, perhaps, shed a tear as you’d struggle to overcome your fear in search of having a good time. Try. I’d tell you. And eventually you would.
I expect more of the same on this night but as we enter the dance, you begin to sway and dance to music. We all start to dance, your brother, myself, you and a couple of neighbor friends and it is like you were born to do this. Before long, you are not even next to me as you rush over to dance with friends and I watch you from afar, your flowing white dress silhouetted against the disco lights. You throw your hands up over your head and jump up and down to the beat of the music. You are graceful and light on your feet and your smile lights up the darkness around you.
TheMonk and I dance close by but you are oblivious to us. And as I slowly come to the realization that you are growing up, little girl, my heart swells with pride while, at the same time, I am thankful for the darkness as I blink back the tears of longing. Longing for the days when my little girl needed her Daddy. But proud of the independent and strong girl you are becoming.
Before long, TheMonk joins you too and I am left alone to watch you both while bobbing my head to the beat. Nobody told me fatherhood would be like this. No one tells you that sooner than you think, the blink of an eye, actually, your baby grows up.
But I’ll be right over here if you need me.