Tag Archives: homecoming

Dating Differences

Don’t get too excited by the title up there, this is nothing to do with a single father going on dates and more to do with a single father raising two girls.

Still . . . nothing makes my head swim quite like being Dad to two girls – one of them now the age I was when I first started seriously dating myself.  Even then . . . I don’t mind telling you at this point that I was painfully poor at it.  Still, it never stopped me from trying.  In fact, I had more than a few dates that were woefully laughable today.

I could go back into high school, I suppose, but my attempts in those years were at best painfully pathetic.  It’s probably best not to re-live those youthful attempts both for my own and those unfortunate few that went on the occasional date with me.  It’s best not to embarrass any of us further.

College wasn’t a lot better.  I went out with one girl who had just started modeling.  When she realized I couldn’t help her career as a local TV person she disappeared.  Another was Afghan and devoutly Muslim.  When she stated there was no way she’d ever end up with someone who wasn’t Muslim or willing to convert I knew there weren’t any other dates coming.  One girl, whom I sincerely liked, went with me to see George Carlin.  When he went off on a tangent about how much he hated anorexia – nay, said, to quote: “some rich bitch decides she doesn’t want to eat her cheeseburger?!  F**k anorexia!!”  I had no idea at the time that my date had been anorexic.  (In fairness to George, the old line used to be . . . if you weren’t offended at least twice at a George Carlin show, you weren’t paying attention.)

That’s just a few memorable ones.  Those don’t include the ones that had no spark whatsoever.  So you can see . . . my dating experiences were varied, strange, even odd.  All of them colored with my stammering, nervous, sweating and scared beginnings.  Even the date with Andrea, who would become my wife, was filled with strange, confused, beginnings.

But having two girls . . . my point here . . . that’s put a whole new perspective on things.  I honestly don’t know if the way my girls see things; hell, the way all girls here seem to see things is the way girls saw things when I was a kid.  I grew up seeing things much as my father did.  You went out with someone you liked.  You asked a girl out, or to the Homecoming dance or to the Prom because you liked that person, not just because you needed a date for those occasions.

But apparently I was mistaken.

For the last four years, all through the high school years my oldest had been through, the schools have pushed and prodded and encouraged a “you have to have a date” mentality for the school dances.  When each dance would approach, the desire to go or attend with a date was less a desire and more of an off-putting event.  But as the dances would approach and every…single…friend would attain a date, I would come home to the depressed, hormonal, upset daughter that just kills me.

I talked with other parents, other girls of my daughter’s age (that she doesn’t know) even, and they all say that this is the way things are.   Have I been hiding under a rock for God’s sake?  At least now it’s the way things are.  You just go . . . get a date, almost any date, as long as they’re seemingly tolerable.

I never quite understood nor could come to grips with this concept.  As I said, I just wanted to go with someone I liked.  If that wasn’t going to happen . . . so be it.  I went alone.

But I also have a far different take on things now.  I was always the guy looking from the outside.  Seeing it from a girl’s perspective is new.  Before I’d have said that it was easier to just go alone or realized that the girl I wanted to date didn’t want to go.  But now I see these things as my daughters both see them.  Being alone yourself, when your friends all have dates . . . and you see guys who went alone, without even just asking you to go on a date themselves.  That’s got to be painful, even difficult.

As a Dad, it’s hard not to try and fix this, but some things are just part of life.  I also think, though my daughter doesn’t likely think this is the case, that being a smart, funny, quirky (yeah, I said it, even though women around me told me it’s the kiss of death) girl is hard for a guy.  Being a girl who’s likely an even match or – in many cases – smarter than the guy is even harder because they don’t like that.

But at the end of the day, I never thought about the fact that there were girls out there – nice girls, pretty girls, smart girls – who just wanted a date.  I didn’t think about the fact that going with a friend who is a lot of fun gives you a date and her a date and makes for a good night anyway.  I’m not sure which is the better mentality to be honest.

The hardest thing to come to terms with is the fact that I have to listen to the situations unfold and not be able to do anything about it.  Nothing.  Not one single thing.  I could try but then I’m the fodder of most 1980’s sitcoms.

But as hard as it is . . . I know that my daughters have amazing years ahead of them.  They get to meet people. fall in love, maybe have (another) breakups, but they will have the opportunities I didn’t.  My daughters have more confidence, as do my sons, and will get to go through life better than their father managed in those years.

At the end of the day, can you really ask for more?

Haircuts and Homecoming Dresses

Noah after haircut

This could have been a disastrous weekend.  All the signs were there . . . Abbi had to “share” at some sort of bizarre drama ritual for Seniors at her high school musical.  Some sort of cathartic, circle of life ceremony involving crying hormonal teenagers and Mountain Dew.  Even I don’t really get the whole thing.  Sadly, for my daughter, she developed my disregard for these kinds of rituals and ritualistic “sharing” of emotions . . . particularly when these kids will wake up tomorrow morning and, well, see each other in the hallways for the next six months.

This is a totally different set of circumstances from a year ago, when Abbi was brand new to the school, wanted desperately to go to the Homecoming dance, and didn’t get asked.  This year, about a week ago, Abbi walked in and was grinning, telling me how she’d been asked to Homecoming and how happy she was about it.  We dealt with the fact she didn’t want to wear the fancy dress she already owned for the dance, that was being saved for Prom.  So I volunteered that we’d go to the mall on Sunday, after her last show, and get her a new dress.

But before all that . . . my two sons were obsessed with getting haircuts.  The problem was, between my working, the tight budget, and the fact that I was wanting to see how they would look with their hair just a little longer . . . I let their hair grow out.  Now, they’re not surfer dudes, they don’t have bleach blonde hair and their hair isn’t below their collar.  One of their teachers keeps asking if they’re ever going to get their hair cut, stressing out the boys and – to be honest – ticking me off.  They’re not in violation of the student rules so what’s the problem here?

But when their hair got unruly it was time to give in and get it cut, so the three of us got haircuts – same day as the dress excursion.  Noah was first, and through the process I heard him give the entire dissertation into our family challenges.  We decorated for Halloween.  Dad loves Christmas.  Sure, he tells the gal cutting his hair, we get a real tree every year.  But there’s no sap that I saw on it getting all sticky.
“That’s because it all got on me bringing the tree in the house,” was my response.
Then he tells how the tree fell over on the way out the door and got water everywhere, and I held my breath at the gal’s response.
“Your Mom must have been pretty upset about that, huh?”

There was a pause, just the briefest of ones . . .

“Umm . . . our Mom died last year,” was the response from Noah.

I heard the woman cutting my hair go “oh, my.  Oh my goodness,” but nothing more.

Then Noah just continued with the story.  “My Dad cleaned it up, but there were needles everywhere!”

I was very proud of him, sure, but there’s something good about seeing the kids treat this as a fact of life.  Noah could have broken down, sure, but he just accepts that this is our life now.  No, Mom’s not here, and there’s a lot that is missing as a result, sure,  But we are bent, not broken, and life seems to be going forward.  We are doing more, feeling better, and life is just that.  Life.

Hannah did, in a brief moment, have a discussion with the boys about what you’d do with 3 wishes . . . and like she’s done before, she says she’d wish for Mom to come back.  I was actually torn by this.  If there was a genie who came to me with that option would I ask for the same thing?  Would I be able to let her walk in, with our lives so different now, nearly two years later?

The last event of the weekend was getting a dress for Abbi.  It’s not an easy thing for me, seeing grown up dresses and having your little girl – that tiny person with the pig tails when she would hold my hand when she walked – look . . . beautiful.  We spent time in several stores – not realizing that in Sacramento, on Sunday, the mall closes at 7pm.  Her show had ended at 5pm and we were 40 minutes away from the mall.

By the way, want to feel old as a parent?  Go into a store like H&M and see how totally unequipped you are to wear the clothing that they’re selling.  Even if I lost 50 pounds I don’t think people would take me seriously in the trendy clothes in the store.

After trudging through the disorganized, random clothing – put willy-nilly in whatever rack they could find – in H&M and another boutique store, I mentioned heading inside Nordstrom, just as a last resort.  All through the store – though many were expensive – there were all these vintage looking dresses, like modern craftsmanship met Boardwalk Empire, and she was in love.  We walked along, finding several, and Abbi worrying about the cost because of where we were.  What she hadn’t realized was that I’d anticipated paying for this dress . . . and being a guy I had over-estimated what it would cost.

She walked into the changing room as the lights started to dim in the store, the distorted announcement grumbling throughout the speakers in the store announcing that they were closing.  Abbi walked out and asked what I thought of one dress, greenish bead work all over it, flaring out in the bottom.
“You look gorgeous, Abbi.  That’s really cute.”
“Really?” she said, the smile obvious in her interrogative.
“It’s so expensive.”
It really wasn’t, not for what I’d budgeted . . . and not for the smile she gave me.
“Your birthday’s this weekend.  Happy birthday, Snuggle.”

Part of the dress…you didn’t think I’d give it away before the date, did you?

Then it happened . . . just as she started to walk back into the room to change out of the dress, I saw her do it . . . she twirled the flared bottom of the dress, back and forth as she walked, just like she had when she was little.  The little, happy girl peeking through the teenager once more.

We could have had such a hard time this weekend.  Instead, the kids have proven to me that we’re doing okay.


Zipper trouble

Abbi in a different dress – prom from this last school year

It’s not what you think.  (Well, I’m not sure what you’re really thinking, but it’s not even what you’re thinking.)

So I got home the other night and my oldest daughter was trying on a dress that she pulled out of her closet.  It’s a beautiful dress, one that she wore some time ago, but not many people have seen it.  She was trying it on because the dress she wanted for Homecoming wasn’t in her size.  She tried on this particular dress even though she wanted to wear it for her prom.

As she was there, in the living room, in front of the mirror, though, I heard her grumbling at her sister, Hannah . . .

“You’re not doing it right, Hannah, you have to zip it and . . . ”
I pushed Hannah out of the way and managed to zip Abbi’s dress up in half a second.  She looked gorgeous, by the way.  She was disappointed, though, because she wanted to wear it for prom.  So I promised – considering I’ve managed to budget OK in the last few weeks – to get her a dress on Sunday.

It made her night.  She turned around and said simply, “can you . . . ” pushing her zipper toward me.
“Of course.”  Then . . . the next part just kinda slipped out.  “…not like I haven’t had a lot of experience doing this.”

Now . . . I didn’t mean it the way it sounds.  Without sounding too gratuitous, yes, I’d *ahem* removed a few of Andrea’s  dresses.  More often than not, though, it was “I’m dying in this dress…will you unzip me?” That was inevitably followed by the pad of her feet moving to the closet to remove said party dress.  The following moments were usually with her in sweat pants and a big Creighton University sweatshirt.  Not really the sexiest of scenarios.  (Though I have to admit, it was nice having her relaxed and lying in my arms.  I do miss that.)

Still . . . it’s not how my daughter took it.
“Ewww.  Thanks, have that vision in my head all night now.  Thanks, Dad.  Ugh.”

That’s what I got.  “Ugh.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I see myself in the mirror – and even though I’ve managed to lose another 10 pounds, I can’t really look long without being a bit angry with myself for getting here.  Hoping that changes in the next couple months so I’m at least able to wear some of my clothes from a few years ago.

Still, it opens up a major question.  In weeks past, when I’ve had any time alone with any woman, my daughters have had some nitpicky issues with it.  They don’t want to see their Dad with anyone else, I’m fairly sure of that.  It’s not that they expressed the worry, but I know my kids.  I can hear it in their voices and see it in their body language.  It’s funny, too, because none of the moments I’ve had alone have been romantic ones.  They’ve been for work or just meeting for a beer with friends.  Nothing close to putting myself out there.  It really cracks me up they’re that worried for nothing.

But I don’t really use that as a litmus test.  9 years.  I’ve figured it out.  9 years is how much time I have with kids in my house.  That’s not a lot of time, when you consider I still look at Abbi and think of that little girl from 9 years ago.  In some ways the last year and a has felt like ten years.  They will start their lives and I’ll have to make some difficult choices about my own.  In some ways I see time speeding up and I’m losing a grip on the moment as well.  Time has found a way to right itself in our lives, whether we were ready for it or not.

So when I hear my daughter say “ewww” when I simply mention the ability to unzip a fancy dress it actually makes me smile.  These little moments don’t disturb or bother me any more.  They show me that we’re farther ahead than we thought right now.

Though the disgusted “ugh!” I could have lived without.