There are few events more entertaining to watch than a Daddy-Daughter Dance. Our local community offers an annual event featuring grown men with their pint-sized little girls. The dads sport suits and ties. The girls wear fancy dresses and make-up. As the evening begins, one can find the men huddled in the corner talking sports and business, while the girls are running, twirling and screaming. SO MUCH SCREAMING.
But something interesting happens over the course of the evening. Dinner is served, which means everyone must sit down for a moment. Dads dine with their daughters at long banquet tables. There’s giggling and smiles, yet it’s a formal event. Daughters look to their dads for tips on which fork to use. Dads show daughters how to place a napkin on their lap. The kids chatter across the table, and the dads try to find something they can discuss within range of young impressionable ears.
The daughters seem to take note of how their dads converse with one another. They see us shake hands. They listen to our small talk. They see how the other dads interact with their daughters. On this night, most dads seem aware that the youth are soaking in everything we say and do. So we’re on our best behavior.
Once the macaroni, chicken strips, and brownies have been cleared, the lights get turned down and the music gets turned up.
And then…the young ladies grab their fathers by the hand with adoring eyes.
“Daddy, let’s dance!”
Reluctantly for a few…or perhaps many…the men let their little girls lead them to the hardwood floor. The sound of tiny heels can be heard as the excited feet pitter-patter to an open spot.
You can sense a little discomfort as the piercing eyes of the stalwart men dart around to see who might be watching. We’re not professional dancers…and there’s no alcohol. So perhaps some of us are a little self-conscious about our “dad moves.”
For me, though, the uneasiness only lasts for a brief second, because my focus turns to the little hands in my hands. I see green eyes and a bright smile staring up at me. In that moment, I have to fight back tears because I can see her growing up too fast. I also see her mother’s expression in her face and I’m instantly thankful for the wonderful women in my life.
The fast-paced tune blasting through the speakers is one of a young pop star. Dads can be seen bopping their heads and singing the lyrics along with their daughters. Then the song changes and the beat slows to a swaying pace. I recognize the song as “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle. I think the DJ just wants to see a grown man cry tonight.
I lift my daughter up. She wraps her arms around my neck and rests her head on my shoulder as I sway back and forth. Looking across the room, other dads are sharing the same moment with their kids. I can see the emotion in their faces as they hold on to this fleeting moment. I’m holding on for dear life.
We take a quick break and I pour my date some pink lemonade. I try to start a serious chat about helping mom with the new baby.
“Mom and I really appreciate how responsible you are becoming. It’s so important to help around the house.”
“Dad, can I go dance with my friends over there?” She interrupts.
We’ll save the deep conversation for another time. As I watch her twirling with her friends, I recognize pure innocence and sweetness. I take a mental picture. Hopefully she will remember this night. Hopefully she will realize how special she is and that any boy in her life better treat her with the same respect and care that her dad shows to her and her mom.
On this night, I’m reminded of the responsibility I have to make a positive impact in her life.
I pray that I am always slow to anger and quick to forgive. I pray that she sees how loving and gentle a man should be with women. I pray she sees the way I support her dreams and lift her up.
I pray that she will always value herself as much as I value her.
The music plays on…
“Daddy, ready to dance again?”
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.