My daughter had been looking forward to the evening for a solid week. I'd have told her about it sooner, but knew she'd do her thing of counting down the days at least twenty-seven times each day and driving her mother stark raving mad. So I waited to leave the invitation out for her to discover until just a week before.
image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Kumasi Ford
When we arrived, she got a little nervous. After all, a podium in the lobby and tables with candles & tablecloths just isn't normal for a Chick-Fil-A. But this was Daddy Daughter Date Night.
We were escorted to our seat and a young lady arrived to take our drink order. We ordered dinner. A spicy chicken sandwich for me, and chicken nuggets for my princess. With applesauce. And honey for dipping, because, you know, honey!
At our table was a card with conversation starters for each of us. Early memories, favorite activities. Four or five for her and for me.
We chatted as we waited for our dinner to arrive, surrounded by other dads and daughters also out for their big nights. Some had dressed up; suits and fancy dresses were side-by-side with work boots, jeans and soccer uniforms. And it all looked perfect.
Dads looking everything from confused to thrilled. One or two with their cellphones out, most at least trying to engage with their daughters.
We talked about some of the troubles I had in school with being accepted, feeling like I belonged. About how, like her, I always wanted to be the first one done with every test. And how I learned there's no prize for that, but there's definitely a prize for getting the answers right, even if it takes a little longer.
We ate our meal and watched the candle slowly burn down. I wished for more time -- our hour time slot felt too short.
A photographer from the Walgreen's next door came by and snapped our picture, then dropped off a 5x7 print for us a few minutes later at no charge along with a coupon for use at the store.
Our server came back and offered us complimentary desserts. Two mini sundaes completed our dinner. My daughter was given a bag with a stuffed cow and some other goodies and a nice pink carnation.
My gift was a book called "Continuing the Conversation," featuring more conversation starters to cover the next four weeks.
I went into this event expecting something frankly cheesy. Fast foody. Minimal. What I got was black tablecloths (vinyl, sure) and flowers and candles and pictures and table service and smiles.
And most importantly, I got help. Help knowing what to say to her. Help making the time to spend together, just the two of us. Help practicing with her the kinds of things she's going to need when she starts dating.
It Matters More Than You Think
Dr. Meg Meeker tells me I'm her model for all future men.
I need many more hours like this one.
I'm glad I've got this book to help me with ideas after week five.
Dads, how can you spend more time with your daughter this week?