Don’t ask me to tell you if it is harder to be an almost 12 year-old girl today or a 47-year-old father who thinks he knows a little bit about life.
Because the default answer is always going to be it is much harder to be dad and I won’t care if you say I can’t understand what it is like to be female.
I don’t have to understand it to come to a conclusion nor will I care if you find it to be logical, reasonable or rational.
My feelings will trump whatever you say regardless of whether you provide scientific proof or the words of the Magic 8-ball.
In short I’ll use the Facebook Argument Solution Standard for determining right and wrong.
My daughter decided she wanted to see X-Men: Apocalypse and knowing that her brother and I try to hit every superhero movie made a point to ask to be included.
I was happy to do so and when it turned out that he had too much schoolwork to join us I was happy to make it into a daddy-daughter moment.
Lately those are harder to come by than they used to be.
Some of it is because between school, soccer friends and life in general my girl is crazy busy and hanging out with dad doesn’t carry the same weight.
But I also suspect that sometimes hanging out with dad is harder because I am a boy and there is only so much I can understand about certain things that are happening in her life now.
Some of that is probably true, but not all and even though she doesn’t believe it, I was 12 once.
Technology has changed and it has impacted some ways in which people interact, but it hasn’t changed people, not by a long shot.
He Is Just A Boy
As we walked through the mall to the theater she suddenly darted from one side of me to the 0ther and made a conscious effort to position herself just behind my right shoulder.
I didn’t make a big deal of it and waited a couple of minutes to ask who he was.
She didn’t point him out or say whether she liked him, just “he is a boy I go to school with.”
I can’t tell you if there is deeper meaning to that than you see and I won’t analyze nine words, not for an almost 12-year-old girl.
But I won’t lie and say I didn’t wonder for a moment when some boy will come into her life and be more important than dear old dad.
It will happen one day and I’ll hope that she picks someone who is good to her.
Some People Love You & Some Facebook You
Since we had a few minutes to speak and she offered an opportunity for me to share a thought I told her that in life some people love you and some Facebook you.
I said that as she goes along she’ll find people who really do love her and will treat her that way and that others will Facebook her.
The point was to try and help her recognize the importance of focusing her attention on people who really care and not to get too caught up in people who want her around because she adds numbers to their friends and likes.
People who would look out for her and care.
I know she understood what I was saying and followed it, but that won’t stop her from going through the same rough patches we all hit.
Won’t prevent her from having to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly.
Part of me is fine with that because experience is the teacher that helps us successfully navigate life, but sometimes it can be pretty rough and a father worries a bit.
Did I mention that one of the restaurants was playing You Won’t See Me by The Beatles.
Not really appropriate for this particular moment, but at the same time I know I’ll blink and that girl of mine really will be old enough to date.
Sometimes she likes to try and tease me about it, tries to test me.
“Dad, one day my boyfriend and I will sit on a beach somewhere.”
“And you’ll look up and wonder how your father appeared out of nowhere.”
“Yeah, like you are the father ninja.”
“I am better than that, ask your aunts.”
It is impossible not to wonder what social media and the pop culture have upon our children.
Impossible to tell with the kind of certainty we want and impossible to ignore. You wonder and worry about whether they are grounded and the values you want are instilled.
You monitor things as best you can and then shrug your shoulders and hope for the best.
In between you still hope they recognize that books, songs and television aren’t necessarily an accurate portrayal of life.
We aren’t always happy, sad or angry.
We aren’t always any one thing at all and that is ok.
Tell Me About Your Girlfriends
She asks me again to tell her about my girlfriends and whether they were like mom or different.
I keep it brief and say some were similar and some were different.
She wants to know if any broke my heart or if I broke any hearts.
“I am sure both are true.”
“Dad, that is not a good answer. I want more details.”
“Maybe one day, we’re going to be late for the movie.”
It reminds me of a conversation with her older brother about how quickly some girls seem to change their minds.
I tell him the good news is that never changes and that girls grow up to be women who change their minds, sometimes more rapidly than you keep up with.
“But I expect they might say the same thing about us.”
“Well, it is a good thing I don’t plan on having a girlfriend.”
I don’t say yes or now and just let it go.
We’re midway through the movie and I turn to my left and see my daughter is smiling and I can tell she is enjoying the movie.
I blink and the film is over.
Halfway to the car I smile and ask her if she needs to hide behind me.
“Only because you are embarrassing.”
I smile and we keep walking. Time moves far too quickly.