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How a Father Can Bond with His Daughter
In an earlier Hub, I talked about my trip to a water park with my daughter. It seemed to be a popular Hub, so I thought I would expand on that to show how I bonded with my daughter.
When she was about 12 or 13 years old, I was the one who “tucked her in” at night. It often started with the two of us in the living room, after she had donned her nightgown. As we faced each other in a standing position, she would then “faint.” This mandated the necessity, now, of carrying her into her bedroom. Sometimes I just dragged her, to see what she’d do, but she allowed it, pretending to be out cold, but still seeming to enjoy it.
After prayers, and once under the covers, in a sitting-up position, she gave me a few directives. One such was snapping her fingers, as if summoning a slave. She said, “Journal.” Although her journal was within her own reach on her nightstand, I usually grabbed it and handed it to her, sometimes bowing to her. Then she said, “Pen,” snapping her fingers again. Sometimes, I tried reaching for the pen or the book, pretending I couldn’t reach them. She demanded that I overcome the hardship, and hand her the materials.
Once or twice, after she started writing in her diary, I moved to leave, but was commanded to “Stay!” without my daughter looking away from her book. So I pretended impatience, whistling, grunting and tapping my fingers, which in no way rattled or affected my daughter.
After the journal entry, and whatever else was on the agenda that day, it was time for the goodnight kiss, which quickly grew into a variety of kisses. There was the cheek kiss, the Eskimo (nose) kiss, and others which we invented, like the eyelash kiss, or maybe we called it the butterfly kiss, which involved fluttering our eyelashes at each other.
I was commanded to tell a story, a few times. Sometimes my stories were rushed, and purposely pointless, with no imagery at all, in hopes of boring my daughter. But she was unaffected. She often did other things that indicated she wanted to prolong our time together. But when I got more serious about my intention to leave her, so that “we wouldn’t be up all night,” her last mandate was: “Poem!” What she wanted was the good-night recital, which was the same each night.
So I took a deep breath and said, “See you later, alligator, After a while, crocodile, On the moon, baboon. See you later, Tintatunatalatachichoosiesu-u-u-u-u-ushi!” The reason I took a deep breath, is because I knew what awaited me: My daughter directed me, as if conducting an orchestra. She artfully moved her hands, inviting me to “sing” louder, or more quietly with her hand motions. She also speeded up the “recital” or slowed it down, to the point where I was acting like a slowed-down recording and using a very low and grating voice. When we came to the “su-u-u-u-u . . .” part, she stopped moving her hands, but held them in a “fermata” signal, meaning I had to hold that note and that syllable for as long as she was holding her hands still in that position. In later sessions, she always held it beyond my capacity to sustain the note, so I pretended to turn blue, and I wheezed, gasped, rattled, and pretended to choke to death. The whole time, my daughter held her fermata, carrying the expression of a conductor who was acting “formally artistic” and completely unaffected by my misery.
The night ended with our “Love-you’s” and “Good Night’s,” and kisses thrown through the air.
That “Camelot” era of our lives ended with a divorce.
So I saw my daughter on weekends. Sometimes we swam together in the pool at my apartment building, and sometimes we did other things, like visit the water park, but mostly we went to the movies.
This is the ritual at the same mall, most weekends: We usually went to the Valley Fair Mall, not knowing what was playing that day. The first thing was to look at the posters to see what was playing. After deciding what to watch, we (I) bought the tickets. While waiting for the movie to start, we visited our “normal stops” in other parts of the mall. The first stop was the rest room. Sometimes my daughter, knowing me, said - just after buying the movie tickets - said, "Don't forget your rest-room stop." After the rest, a few sips from the water fountain nearby was in order. Or, sometimes we bought a drink, or some type of ice cream or other treat from the food court which was in the same area.
Our very next stop was usually the pet store. We petted, handled, and talked to as many pets as was permitted, and watched the fish and birds. After that, it was usually the bookstore. Sometimes, I ended up buying her something. My daughter was an avid reader, right from the time she learned how to read. While we walked through the mall on those occasions, or other times when we were walking, my daughter became very proficient at “pushing around a 200-pound daddy,” as I reported to others. In a last-second decision to change course, she had her method: If she was on my right, she leaned her whole weight into my body to turn left. To turn right, she grabbed my arm and fell sideways to her right.
Finally, it was the movie, where we stayed until the screen went dark. We were usually the last people in the theater. Sometimes we ate afterward.
This era, too, had to end sooner or later, which happened gradually when she began to date, go to school, and finally got married. But our relationship never did end. We continue to enjoy an occasional visit, or extended conversations on the phone (sometimes they’re short and far between, to not over-do it). She is now a school teacher with elementary kids, and spends plenty of time with her own children, who are among the best loving and respectful kids any grandpa would ever want. (One of them is the main character in another of my hubs.)
The main thing I learned from our times together, is “spend time with your children.” They eat up the times you’re together, and they will always thank you for it, and it builds lasting relationships.