Thursday, May 29, 2014

Teaching Old Dads New Tricks...

Ok, I haven't done this in a while.  Life has been crazy busy, but inspiration hit last night and I thought I'd share some thoughts this morning.  Get your Kleenex ready.

I'm a dad.  Have been for over 18 years now.  My oldest daughter, Jenni, just graduated high school two weeks ago, and my youngest, Hannah, will be a freshman after Friday afternoon.  I think it was some divine practical joke that I wound up with two daughters.  God must have grinned and said, "Hey, Jay...remember that teenage boy you used to be?  Wouldn't it be a hoot if you got to be the dad of two teenage daughters?  I think we should do that."

The problem with having teenage daughters is that, eventually, they attract teenage boys.  Most dads are just like I am and are very protective of the apples of their eyes.  Occasionally, we have to remind some teenage boy just how precious that little girl is, and sometimes we have to leave them with no doubts whatsoever.  Every now and then one will come in the door all puffed up, saying things like, "I'm not afraid of any dads..." and it is our duty to show him the error of his ways.

...Then there's the ones that absolutely blow your mind.

...Like Kyle...

Yesterday was a very long Wednesday for me.  When I finally got home last night, I went out into the backyard and lit a bonfire.  Kyle was at the house with Jenni, and they came out and sat on the ground by the fire with me.  As I sat there watching them, it hit me that this may be the one.  Who knows?  Here's the deal, though... Jenni has epilepsy.  She was diagnosed in March of 2009.  Kyle is blind.  He has had prosthetic eyes since he was a little boy. Watching them together melts my heart.  It's exactly what every dad wants for his little girl.

Why?  Because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Kyle is not after my little girl for what's on the outside.  He sees on a level very few others can. He sees her for what she is on the inside.

If she is having an off day, he texts me to find out how she is doing.  If she is having an absence spell, he texts me to let me know that she's not acting right.  If he's down, he'll ask me if he can some see her because she makes him happy.

Every now and then he'll tell me, "Hey bro, I need to borrow your eyes for a minute," but most of the time, the kid is unstoppable.  I never called any of my girlfriends' dads "Bro."  Hell, I was terrified of most of them.
I was a pretty good drummer in high school, but this kid blows my mind when he gets behind a trap set.  He can completely rebuild a computer and has never seen one.  He knew his way around our house within 20 minutes of getting there the first time.

But more importantly than all of that, he loves my little girl for who she is and not what she looks like.  His mom even told me that he had told her once, "I know I can't see her, but I just know Jen is beautiful."

Now to the title of this entry.  See, here's the thing...Since April 19, of 1996 I have been dreading, and at the same time looking forward to, the day when I could be the dad that I was always afraid of.  I had it all planned out.  Then that country song came out, "Come on in boy, sit on down, and tell me 'bout yourself..." and that was just going to make it even easier.  I even downloaded it to my phone so I'd have it ready anytime I needed it. I had the speeches ready, and the hard looks...and the snarls...I was going to be that dad... because nobody was ever going to be good enough for my little girls.

Last night, I had to rethink all of that.  Every bit of it.  She's happy, and it's his fault.  My baby girl has been through hell for five years...then here comes this kid wanting to see  her...and he doesn't care that she has seizures, and she doesn't care that he can't see...and she's smiling again.  So I sit back and think, "You know what, I'm ok with this."

So...dads of little girls...this ol' dad has learned that not every teenage boy who comes to my door is a wolf.  Most of them are, yes.  But if I had done all of the things I had planned on doing when my oldest started dating, she wouldn't have been sitting around the bonfire with me last night, laughing with a boy who loves her for her.  I could have run all of them off...I'm the dad...but in trying to keep the bad ones away, I just might have caused her to miss a good one.

Jen, you make me proud, baby girl.
Kyle, you're a good kid, and thank you for making my baby girl laugh again.