My six-year-old daughter is ferocious when it comes to physical affection between her father and me. If she had her way, kissing and hugging between the parental units would be forbidden.
“My daddy!” she exclaimed once when wriggling between us during a hug, draping herself across Clayton’s legs. “Hug me!”
I did the same thing to my parents at the same age, once telling my mother, “He was my daddy first!”
Jealousy of your own mother when it comes to your father is a strange part of girlhood. I don’t know if the feeling is universal, but I do know it’s pretty common from what my friends raising girls tell me.
I think life as a military family may sharpen the feeling somewhat. All of my children miss my husband when he is at sea, but only my daughter draws pictures of her and daddy riding horses into the sunset.
Thankfully, Clayton is a good sport about Naomi’s need to be Daddy’s princess. They’ve had tea parties since she was a toddler (the fare includes cookies and pickles); he has crammed himself into her pop-up castle; he loves her enough to wear a tiara sometimes.
And once a year, there’s the Daddy-Daughter Sweetheart Dance.
The Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre throws this bash, and they pull out all the stops. Girls and their fathers, or father figures, eat, drink and dance the early evening away. A professional photographer snaps photos of each “couple.” One lucky girl wins a draw for a limo ride to and from the event.
Preparations for this event started a month ago in our house. Clayton bought the tickets and my mother bought a beautiful white dress. Naomi started planning her accessories and begging me to let her wear makeup to the dance.
On the night in question, she was a miniature version of bridezilla. I was taken aback. we don’t emphasize looks at our place, but she knew exactly how she wanted to appear. I painted tiny nails, straightened her curls (she insisted) and applied sparkly lip balm and the tiniest bit of eye shadow.
As she and Clayton were posing for pictures, she announced, “Mom, I want to wear your minks!”
And so, my daughter and my husband left for a magical evening, with my little girl wrapped in a vintage fur stole. I am in serious trouble when she discovers the Style Rookie blog in a few years.
They came back well after bedtime. She was clutching a new stuffed bear, a carnation and a picture of her and Clayton wearing funny glasses and goofing off for the photographer.
As Clayton relayed the night’s events to me after she’d drifted off, I thought about how smart the MFRC is to hold this dance. The girls obviously enjoy it, but I think it’s more for the fathers in the end.
Military parents spend an enormous amount of time away from their families, even when all is peaceful and well. There’s always a sail to go on, a training course to take or a posting away from family.
Being away from the family for half a year or more is hard, especially when you miss a major holiday.
This chance to connect with the little girl they miss so much is magical.
After the success of this year’s dance, one of the other military spouses is now thinking about reintroducing a mother-son event, for moms who are military members and military wives.
I look forward to stepping out with my three dates, but I doubt I’ll be able to convince any of the boys to wear suits.
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