I was in the store yesterday. Understand, my youngest child will be 16 years old next month, so you might think it strange that when I heard a young girls voice call out, “Daddy!”, that I immediately spun around to find the source of that voice.
It’s been a while since this had happened to me. It used to happen all the time when my kids were younger. As they grew older, not so much. You get used to your older child’s voice, so you don’t tend to react when you hear younger kids, so I was left wondering what caused such a powerful reaction yesterday.
I think it was that the little girl’s voice reminded me so much of my daughter’s at that age. It probably helped that I was sort of off in a daze as I waited to check out, not really paying attention to anything in particular, which maybe made me more open to old, forgotten memories.
What really struck me about the whole episode is how many pleasant emotions it stirred up. I was suddenly pulled back into a past where a constant refrain of, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! “, was an almost continuousness event. It brought back memories of being out with my daughter, be it shopping (it was usually shopping of some kind) or at a playground, or where ever.
My daughter was my constant companion, especially during and after the time my marriage to her mom fell apart. We had so much fun together. We would make up silly lyrics to kids songs, where “Elmo’s World” became “Elmo’s Poop” (we lived for toilet humor!). I remember teaching her the Oscar Meyer Bologna song, which she sang continuously for over a week until she could sing it perfectly and so fast you could barely make out the words. We would take the dog to the dog park for long romps.
Once she hit her teens, we started going places together less often. She was busy with school, after-school activities, and friends so she just wasn’t around as much. It was lovely to watch her transformation from a very shy girl with one or two occasional friends to a self-confident teen with many good friends. It was also very hard for me to let go.
Well, letting go was easy, dealing with the related emotions was not. I became cranky and depressed without knowing why. My wife (her step-mom) sat me down told me that, although she knew it was hard, that I had to understand that I was dealing with a real lose. I was, in essence, mourning the lose of (up until I met my wife) my best and constant companion. She was right.
I’ve learned that just because my relationship with my daughter has changed doesn’t mean that I’m losing, or will loose, her. We still get along as well as ever. We still laugh together all the time, we still make up silly lyrics to songs, and we still, every now and then, sing the Oscar Meyer Bologna song together (which she still sings as fast as ever).
Besides memories, the experience in the store yesterday showed me something else: that I’m still a daddy, and I always will be.
— Featured Image by the author.