And while I cherish my sons and am proud of the boys they are and the men they will become, there is something special about that father/daughter dynamic. It’s been written about ad nauseum by better writers than I, but a few days ago while I walked hand in hand with Sophie down some steps, playing our counting game as we went, it struck me that I had no idea what I was missing until she came into our lives. She giggles, smiles, and serves me imaginary tea and cupcakes. While I’m clearing their closet of monsters each night for Jonah’s benefit, I tuck her and her bear in under the covers…the same bear that she lost earlier in the evening and came running to me with tears in her eyes to “please find him daddy”. And I did…hero for another day. We snuggle under the quilt, watch Dora and munch on Lucky Charms. And before she’s turned three she already knows that her father has zero fashion sense and rejects any of the clothes I select, preferring to choose her own on those days.
I could go on but won’t. But having said all that it should come as no surprise that while still years away, I already have one eye on the future. On dating. I do in part because my oldest son Nolan, nearing the age of 14, and having been discovered by girls a year ago finally has noticed them. He won’t date til 16, but what follows below is something he’s already heard more than once from me with regards to how he will treat the girls he dates. As will Jonah. My sons will know and apply these rules as will the boys who date my daughter.
Yeah, it’s over the top. But when it comes to my precious daughter you’re damn right I’m over the top.
Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk or text via cell phone that you’re outside you’d better be delivering a package because you’re surely not picking anything up.
Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body I will remove them.
Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not in fact come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.
Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a ‘Barrier method’ of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.
Rule Five: It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is: “early.”
Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.
Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway waiting for my daughter to appear and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process than can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there why don’t you do something useful? Like changing the oil in my car.
Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing or holding hands. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka – zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual themes are to be avoided; movies that feature chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.
Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless God Of Your Universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.
Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a sand dune near Fallujah. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit the car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.