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Popsicles and Dreams - The Importance of The Little Moments Between a Father and Daughter - A Short Story
Popsicles With Dad
You Can Be Anything That You Want To Be
I was playing in our backyard one bright and hot Southern California Saturday, when wiping the sweat from his brow and laying aside his shovel, my father decided that it was time to take a break from the yard work at which he had been laboring all morning.
Stomping the mud from his feet, he entered the house in search of refreshment, re-emerging a few moments later, he beckoned for me to join him beneath the peach tree on the other side of the yard, waiving as an incentive, one of the two Popsicles that he carried. With the afternoon sun still blazing high in the cloudless sky above us, my father and I sat for a while beneath the sheltering branches of the old gnarled tree, and as I dripped the sticky orange syrup all over the both of us, we fell into a companionable pattern of slurping sounds and silence, so befitting such a moment between a father and daughter.
As I was intently focusing all of my attention onto the task of trying to negotiate that last bite of rapidly melting ice into my mouth, without allowing it to fall off of the stick, the low timber of my father's voice, tinged with just enough of a slow lazy drawl to hint at his Texas upbringing, broke through the silence, and he imparted to me a few words of wisdom that would forever effect my view of the world.
“You know," he said, as he attempted to wipe some of the Popsicle juice from my chin, "If you want something badly enough, and you work at it hard enough, and you believe in yourself enough, you can be anything in the world that you want to be."
This was in the early nineteen seventies, and Gloria Steinem was at the helm of the feminist movement as the NWPC (National Women's Political Caucus ) and Ms . Magazine began to break new ground. The campaign for The Equal Rights Amendment was in its infancy, as all across the nation, and throughout much of the world, women who were no longer content to be seen as just mothers and housewives, were learning, that when their individual voices were raised together in unity, they could not be silenced. Women's roles in society were beginning to change, and the promise of the bounty of opportunity that lay ahead, seemed positively endless.
Yes, just as surely as Bob Dylan had prophesied, the times they were a-changing;
But on that particular Saturday afternoon, insulated from the turbulent winds of change that swirled outside my tiny but ever expanding universe, and unaware of the war for equality that was being waged outside the fences of my own backyard, I was simply just a little girl of perhaps four or five years old, who knew with unblemished faith that my parent's word was the gospel truth; that Santa Clause really did live at the North Pole; and that if I dared, just once more, to dig up my father's vegetable garden, my hide would most definitely be tanned. On that Saturday afternoon, I was just a little girl, whose world was not yet old enough to harbor things like prejudice, or inequality, or stereotypes. Yet, the meteoric impact of my father’s words had quite suddenly flung open the doors of my imagination, freeing it from chains that I hadn't even known existed, setting it free to soar upward into the supernal blue of possibility.,
The lengthening shadows being cast across our yard by the afternoon sun's continued westward trek over the top of the house signaled the end of our father-daughter interlude, and still clutching the red and orange tinged wooden remains of our popsicles in my sticky hands, I slid silently from my father's lap.
Seeing that he had given me much to think about, my father reclaimed his abandoned shovel, and whistling softly to himself, resumed his gardening chores.
Once again left to my own devices, and with the make-believe games I had been playing just a short time before, now unable to compete with all the ideas that were swirling around in the wake of my father's revelation, I slowly began to make my way back to the other side of the yard, where I stretched out on my back upon the cool green grass, and with my hands behind my head, and the vast endlessness of the clear blue sky above, I spent the rest of the afternoon dreaming of all the things that I would one day be.
Me and My Dad
Any Man Can Be a Father, It Takes Someone Special to Be a Dad
These fourteen words have been said so often, and printed on so many greeting cards and knacks, that they might now seem to have become cliché, but their truth remains the same; Any man can father a child, but it takes someone special to stick around and be that child's dad. Many fathers fail to see the important role that they play in their children's lives, this is especially true of the role that a father plays in the life of his daughters.
I was one of the lucky ones, very lucky indeed, because I was blessed with an amazing dad, who having grown up without his own father, instinctively seemed to know that his daughters needed him to be present and accountable in their lives. It was through the little moments, like the one that I have shared here, that my dad showed me everyday of my life that I was valued and loved. Through his example I learned that I had a voice, found my own self-worth, and learned to respect myself. He taught me to trust my instincts, stand up for what I believed in, and that anything was possible. He never put limits on what I could do. He always encouraged me to follow my dreams.
Through his devotion to first my mother and later to my step-mother, he showed me how a man is supposed to treat a woman that he loves, because of that foundation, I chose my romantic relationships wisely. Through his devotion to his children, he taught me how to be a parent. My dad wasn't perfect, and sometimes he didn't get everything right, but he was there, every day, no matter what, and because of that I never doubted that I was loved.
Yes, any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.
What Do You Think?
Does growing up without a strong father-daughter relationship have long-term effects?
© 2011 Kristen Burns-Darling