We don’t get a lot of dads here, but when we do they usually come armed with amicable smiles and a few dad jokes to help pass the time. Sometimes they ask what beer we have on tap, or loudly proclaim they’re just here to write the check. Some dads sit back and enjoy the parade of wedding dresses with a bewildered expression.
A lot of dads want to seem engaged in the process, but they don’t quite know the right questions to ask. So we get a lot of this:
“Where do you put your car keys in this thing?”
“Will that fit in your dresser drawer?”
“What kind of material is that, chignon?”
Wrong, but kudos for even knowing the word chignon, right?!
Having a dad in an appointment, whether he knows what an A-line is or not, changes the whole dynamic.
That’s what I am reminded of most this Father’s Day. Dads are game changers. They shake things up, and they see their daughters the way that no one else can.
When I got married my maid of honor put my dad in charge of shaking out my train before we walked down the aisle together along with my mom. My mom would have been the better choice for this task, but my maid of honor knew better.
She knew my dad would need a task to keep calm. He needed a project. Something to fix that luckily required no tools. Before the ceremony she showed him how to perfectly arrange my bridal train so that it fell neatly and elegantly on the floor of the hall’s main entrance. She told him sternly that it was his job to make sure my train was perfect, and he all but saluted her like she was the general of the day.
PS – she pretty much was.
As the bridal party processed down the aisle and the string quartet music kicked on over the speakers, I burst into tears. The music was beautiful, and so was the scene. I stood back and surveyed the crowd and the stage and the twinkling lights. My mom touched my forearm lightly and we exchanged knowing glances that convey so much meaning in a quick blink.
Cheers to Mr. Fix-it
But for my dad the crying was a problem he could fix in a more tangible way. “I’m going to fluff your train,” he said in my ear. He said it slowly, the way you might speak to someone who didn’t speak your language. He seemed to think in my sobbing stupor that I might no longer understand what was happening.
He knelt down behind me, picked up my train, gave it a taut pull and let it float to the floor. For a man who will never be called graceful, he managed to achieve this gesture with a great deal of finesse. He arranged that train like an artist, like a pro.
That little moment will stick with me forever. I don’t know why. It’s probably because it was equal in its sweetness and silliness. Probably because my train didn’t really need anything done to it. Probably because he used my nervousness to distract from his own and vice versa. Probably because like father like daughter.
It made me laugh. It made me focus. It changed the dynamic, and that one little action helped me take a deep breath and step off into the next part of my life. Just like taking off those training wheels. Like the night light and the band-aid and the little nudge forward.
Ready. Set. Go.
Happy Father’s Day