By David Curtis
Just a short two weeks ago I was texting my daughter, who was in the process of finishing up her first semester at N.C. State, asking her when her finals would be over, about her arrangements for a ride back to the mountains for Christmas break and when could we expect her home. Typical fatherly questions, and as a typical father I try to stay connected with what’s happening in my daughter’s life.
The response I got from her was a text back that read something like, “Why do you want to know?” followed by, “Are you trying to run my life?” Now I ask you, what kind of question is that to ask a father with two daughters. Of course the answer is I ask these questions because if I don’t prod into your business you will never tell me anything. So I told her that her Nanny and Paw were asking when she would be home, that’s why I’m asking. Playing the Grandparent card is always a good way to deflect suspicion.
As to “running her life,” well excuse me; I thought she was majoring in math education not independent living, and yes, that’s my job. I texted her back to let her know that, if needed, I was fully capable of micromanaging her life from five hours away and would welcome the opportunity, besides, I texted, “Who’s your Daddy?” in case she’s forgotten.
I’m so out of touch with the current culture of our youth today. You would think as a middle school teacher I could pick up on some of the popular slang phrases kids are using now. My daughter informed me the phrase “Who’s your Daddy?” is so, like yesterday, loserville, gone, history, totally over. And, that I needed to grow up.
She’s been home a week now. Caught a ride with a friend from Raleigh to Charlotte. Charlotte is not Canton I told my wife, it’s OK she said, she will drive to Charlotte and bring her home, no big deal. What’s in Charlotte I ask that she can’t be picked up in, say Statesville or Hickory? A boy she’s meeting for lunch I’m told. I made a note to myself to work on improving my micromanagement skills over the Christmas holidays. I’m failing in the boy department.
Several months ago when my wife and I took our daughter off to college I wrote right here in this paper that “I am just too excited about the opportunities that await her than to spend time missing her and wishing she were still home and my little girl. She will always be my little girl, just a little more independent, wiser and grown up.”
My daughter has changed since she went off to college. She has become more independent and does act more grown up, but do children, no matter what age, do they ever become wiser in their parent’s eyes? No matter how successful each of my daughters will become in their careers or the future families they will raise, I will always feel they can benefit from my fatherly advice, experience and wisdom. Does that sound conceited? Or does it sound like something a parent, a father, would say?
The image my daughter likes to portray is one of a self sufficient, independent young woman, but I still catch glimpses of Daddy’s little girl. Now that she is home for break she has things she needs to do, a schedule of her own not relying on mom or dad to drag her places. She puts gas in the car with her own money, runs her own errands, has her own appointments, dates and friends that need visiting. All this without my help or pre-approval, but when the keys got locked in the car one afternoon it was nice to know Daddy was still needed. That’s right, I whispered to myself, who needs your Daddy?
When my daughter was younger and we were out running errands in Waynesville we would often stop at our favorite coffee house for a hot drink — coffee for me and a hot chocolate for her. Several days ago I was meeting my girls at the lake for a run and I was swinging by Panacea for coffee on the way. I called and asked if I could bring them a hot chocolate. My 15-year-old said sure, love one, but my oldest said she would rather I bring her coffee instead.
Did she say coffee? Coffee is an adult drink; it’s our Mt. Dew, our Red Bull, our caffeine jolt in the morning. You’re too young to be drinking coffee. What has happened to my hot chocolate loving little girl?
She is growing up; she has changed in the few short months she has been away. She is learning to make decisions on her own and to use her best judgment as situations arise because her mother and I cannot always be by her side to make those decisions for her anymore. And I am proud of her because she makes good decisions. Still, that Charlotte thing puzzles me.
I think about this as we finished our run and as we are walking back to where we parked the cars. She slips her hand in mine like she used to when she was little. She giggles as we hold hands and swing our arms back and forth a few times, reminding me that she will always be my little girl. And then reluctantly I let her hand slip from mine and I let her go.
My family and I wish you all a blessed Christmas and New Years.