All week I was telling Lucy, my three-year-old, that we’d be going on a special Lucy Daddy Date, a Daddy Daughter Dance at her school. We were looking forward to it for days, and when the day arrived we both just wanted it to be over.
Act I: Tears
Her dress was picked out. A new little sweater was bought just for the occasion. Mommy was going to give her pretty hair. I remember hearing about how long and painful the preparations for things like proms and weddings can be for women, I didn’t realize that training for this starts so young.
While I was getting myself gussied up, my wife was getting Lucy ready in the bathroom so they could have a big reveal when she was ready. While I couldn’t see what was going on, I sure could hear. Screams. Cries. Downright shrieks were coming from the bathroom. Probably throwing some kind of tantrum about wanting her hair a certain way or something I figured, and I kept getting myself dressed. When I walked out of my bedroom I saw her holding the Boo Boo Ducky (a duck shaped ice pack for kids).
The hair curling pole was plugged in and within her reach while they were getting ready. Any guesses what she touched? If you guessed the scorching hot exposed metal of an incredibly poorly designed grooming device – you’re correct! How we are all walking around with super computers in our pockets but women still make their hair a different shape by using a glorified hot iron poker is beyond me.
Anyway, after crying in pain for about a half hour, she really wasn’t in the mood to party. General sobs became outright cries of “I don’t want to go!” Even the lure of cookies and cupcakes that would be at the dance were not enough to change her mind. But we were going to make memories damn it, and we already paid for the ticket, so it was time for bribery. How about some candy now? If you have a sucker now you can take it with you, AND get a cookie when you’re there!
With bandaids on her fingers and a sucker in her mouth we were on our way.
When we walked in it was overwhelming even for me. Tiaras, balloons, streamers, photo booths, obnoxiously loud music, snacks. Where to start?
Lucy: “Can I get a donut?”
Me: “Yes, sweetie.”
Act II: Donuts
We made out way into the school gym full of other little girls and fellow dads and immediately looked for a place to sit and eat our donut. We sat, but she didn’t eat. She just sat there with a sad, disinterested look on her face.
I never thought I would have to convince my kid to eat a donut, but she wanted to do nothing at all. So we sat there and I asked questions hoping the answer to one of them would be yes. Want a bite of donut? Want some juice? Do you see any friends from your class? Do you want to dance? Do you want to get our picture taken? Do you like this song? Will you please take pity on your father?
Finally she agreed yes, she wanted to go look at the photo booth, but only if I carried her. She put the sucker back in her mouth, we wrapped the donut up in a napkin and we make our way across the gym. On this journey through a swirling mass of daddies and daughters something jumped out at me. Somewhere around the age of what looked like second graders, attire changed from cute little dresses to prom dresses – some simple, some downright fancy. I assume the fancy dress girls belong to the three piece suit dads. I decided when Lucy gets older I hope she is friends with the kids of a simple shirt and tie dad.
Upon arrival at the photo booth, Lucy says she doesn’t want to get her picture taken, but would rather go sit back down and eat her donut.We find a new place to sit, unwrap he donut, and discover that the juice box was left behind. I assume its been thrown away or stolen by a prom queen of tomorrow, so I carry her back out into the hallway with our wrapped up donut to get a new juice box.
After being smooshed in my hand while I carry her, the donut is by now just crumbs loosely held together by frosting, but she eats it and I see a glimpse of her usual self as we make silly faces back and forth as we eat. I remember the table of tiaras we passed when we walked in and ask if she wants to go get a princess crown. She said yes – we’re on a roll! The sucker is back in her mouth and we are on our way.
With a boost of confidence that I assume comes standard with a tiara, we go back into the gym to give the photo booth another shot. Provided of course that I carry her. While waiting in line I ask if she wants to me to put her down and dance. She clings tighter at the suggestion. When it is almost our turn for the photo booth, the DJ stops the music to make an announcement. It’s princess time.
Act III: Princesses
The homecoming queens of Christmas future rush the stage as soon as Anna and Elsa appear. I hold Lucy up a little higher so she can see. I point out Cinderella, Tianna, Belle, and Arielle. She knows them all, she loves them all. She is utterly unmoved by their presence.
Our turn for the photo booth is next when the princesses disperse from the stage to various places in the gym, including our photo booth. As luck would have it, ours turned out to be the Anna and Elsa booth. Surely this will get a positive reaction. She sings or listens to something from Frozen literally every day. Maybe she’ll sing! Maybe she’s dance! She clings to me and hides behind her sucker.
I try dancing with her a little, she stays stone faced. I take her to more princesses – Tianna said she likes her dress! Might as well said there’s no Easter Bunny. Lucy asks if she can have a cookie. Sure kiddo, why not.
A second sugary pick me up helps. She asks if she can go see Belle and she lets me put her down for the first time all night. She puts her sucker back in her mouth and we walk back into the gym. After staring at Belle without saying or doing anything, she walks around for a few minutes trying to get a balloon. Its the happiest she’s been all night and we get some good selfies out of it.
Sadly, while making some silly faces the sucker (which miraculously has lasted well over an hour at this point), falls out of her mouth and cracks on the gym floor. I try to get her to dance a little more or see some more princesses, but at this point we are both over it. I ask if she wants to go home and she silently nods.
As we walk back to the truck the cold air feels good and we can see lots of stars in the sky.
Lucy: “It was loud in there.”
Me: “I know.”
Lucy: “When we get home, can we watch a movie.”
Me: “Yes, sweetie.”