This year, I’ve noticed a lot of friends on social media posting about their community’s daddy/daughter events. In the name of February’s theme of love, dads are feeling prompted to dress up and take their kids out on the town, showing them a good time.
While this might seem like a new trend, as parents—men in particular—are trying to combat themes of toxic masculinity and show their kids a soft and caring side, it’s actually a tradition that has been around for ages. I would know; I went with my dad.
The year was 2000, I think. My dad and I had plans for the local daddy/daughter dance, and were excited to have another year of fun.
I had already been to the Sioux City daddy/daughter dance with my dad the year before. It was cowboy-themed, so we wore too much denim, trying to manifest our best version of a yeehaw. The dance had snacks and dancing and a costume contest. Though we didn’t place, I remember thinking one thing: my dad was the best.
This year, we had our sights set on winning the costume contest. We had secret Intel from one of my mom’s best friends, who put on the event, that our costume idea could bring home the gold.
The theme: Disney. While most people were probably thinking about princesses, my dad and I went a slightly different route. We re-purposed one of my gorgeous ballet costumes, and my dad went to a costume store to rent a curly black wig, frilly shirt, and an infamous prosthetic. We transformed ourselves into Tinkerbell and Captain Hook, and looked the part.
Maybe I was most excited not to have to wear tights with my tutu, but there was a thrill in rolling up to the event with my dad, doing something silly and fun and going all-out. We wondered if anyone else would have the same idea, or if our Hook and Tink combo could be a winner.
When we got to the dance, we realized something pretty quickly: we were the only ones who dressed up. At some point, our information was incorrect, and we didn’t get the memo. There were tons of dads and their daughters, all looking nice in their dressy clothes, but no one else was in costume.
Initial embarrassment aside, we won the contest. And lots of laughs later, we came home and told my mom and brothers the story, leading with, “You’ll never believe this,” and ending with, “we had the best time ever.”
Put Me In Coach
Most people know my relationship with my dad through stories relating to softball; he was an amazing coach, pushed me to see my potential, and was the kind of super-fan that kids dream of having.
But my dad deserves my gratitude far beyond a handful of softball seasons. Before I ever picked up a ball, he was kind and loving and supportive. Long after my last game, he has been one of the most generous and helpful people in my life (tag-teaming with my mom, of course).
From the very beginning, my dad has showed up for me.
Whether it’s been through leaving work early to pick me up for practice, driving across the state for every game, getting flowers for every recital, telling me what it means to build character, helping me sign my lease, giving me advice on interviews, or dressing up for a daddy/daughter dance, my dad has always been someone that I go to. And he never disappoints.
I’ve known my dad through the context of a parent, coach, and even boss. (I cleaned his office every weekend, and later was a receptionist for a summer at his office.) Here’s what I know about him; he:
- works harder than any one person should.
- is beyond generous.
- loves strongly.
- is dependable, trustworthy, and one of the good guys.
Most of all: you are one of the luckiest people in the world if you have him in your corner.
I know I am.
I love you, Pops. Thanks for making me feel like the luckiest daughter at the dance.