April 19, 2012

Why One-On-One Time Matters: A Father-Daughter Date

My favorite children’s book of all-time is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. I’d always ask my dad if it were possible to get a Truffula seed and plant one of those colorful trees in our backyard, to which my dad would reply, “Brian, it’s 4 in the morning, go back to sleep.” And I would, but I’d dream of those beautiful Truffula tufts. I’d also dream of Rice Krispie treats because I really, really loved Rice Krispie treats.

Ah, The Lorax. I've read the book to my kids a total of 200 bajillion times. They love it. Or, to be more precise, they love all the pages they can sit through before being distracted by the mounds of toys that are helping our living room furniture play an epic game of hide-and-go seek. To be fair, Dr. Seuss books are long and kid attention spans are not.

So when an ad for a full-length theatrical version of The Lorax raced across Steven, my HDTV, I excitedly told my wife, “I know you really want to make out, but I have to tell you of this idea I have first. I wanted to take our daughters to the movie with me." My wife pointed out that our 10-month-old was probably too young for a movie and that our oldest was seeing the movie with her BFF.

That meant only one thing: A Father-Daughter Date with my middle daughter, Anna. I was so excited. It's not often that Anna and I get to do things just the two of us. When you have several kids you find they usually come as a package deal. You can't just take one to the park. They ALL want to go to the park. You can't just take one to get ice cream. They ALL want to get ice cream. You can't just take one to the potty. They ALL have to go to the potty … at the same time … in the smallest of grossest public restrooms where, after awkwardly holding each one so no part of them actually touches the awful toilet seat, you realize that it probably would have been more sanitary to just let them pee in the car.

This rare one-on-one occasion had me pumped. I shaved. I traded my typical attire of cargo pants and a Cincinnati Reds t-shirt jersey for some slacks and a collared shirt. I cleaned out all the Cheerios and softball equipment from the car, and sprayed it with Febreze. I even put her favorite CD in the CD player. I wanted everything to be nicer than usual—after all, this was a date!

We exited our house and made it to the theater. The lines were long, but that didn't bother us much. That just meant more time for her to weave in and out of the movie-line ropes and more time for me to complain about ticket prices. With passes in hand, we ordered some food from the concessions. I wanted Anna's first movie-going experience to be authentic, and, as I'm sure you know, all movie-going experiences should include popcorn, lemonade and choosing the line that moves the slowest, causing you to miss the word jumble1 and previews2. Check, check and check.

As we entered our theater, the giant movie screen and stadium seating overtook Anna. She was in awe. I can't even imagine how overpowering it must have seemed to her. After testing out about 14 different seats, she settled on a pair about six rows from the back. We got comfortable, balancing our snacks on our laps, and watched as the movie started. Anna couldn't keep her eyes off the movie. I couldn't keep my eyes off of her. As desperately as I wanted to watch the adaptation of my favorite children's book, I just couldn't. There I was, with my middle daughter, my baby, all grown up in the blink of an eye, laughing at jokes that only kids 3-and-up would laugh at. Sure, she still had her short-attention-span moments where she'd get up and play with the arm rests. And she'd ask me to "pause" the movie so she could share her popcorn with me and I could share mine with her (which I happily did, because the "small" bag of popcorn I ordered was roughly the size of a couch).

I can't tell you too many details about the actual movie (thankfully I know the book by heart). But I can tell you that Anna and I snuggled in the seats for much of the movie. And I can tell you than Anna moved her drink back and forth between cup-holders about 75 times, amazed that both armrests had them. And I can tell you that we put our fingers under our noses and pretended they were Lorax mustaches. And I can tell you by the end of the movie, I knew this was the best date I'd ever been on.3

As we gathered up our belongings and headed out, Anna looked up at me. The smile on her face stretched from ear to ear. She didn't say "thank you," but she didn't have to. I knew she had a great time. How couldn't she? I pumped her so full of popcorn that if I pushed her belly button she'd be liable to dispense some. 

Truffula seeds are all around us. If you nurture them and love them, they will grow into beautiful Truffula trees who share their love with you too. The Lorax taught me that.

The Lorax also taught me and my daughter that finger mustaches are funny. 

Trust me, the answer is always Sandra Bullock.
Where seven of the 10 of them involve Sandra Bullock.
I wanted to make a joke here about a time when my wife and I saw a Sandra Bullock movie, but I would never admit to seeing a Sandra Bullock movie. Except for Speed. Speed was awesome. You should rent it.

4 comments:

Freya Morris said...

arrrh great post.

jennifer said...

sounds like an amazing date!

Woz said...

This makes me so happy. You are making the best memories for your girls right now. I still remember dates I had with my dad. Nothing like it in the world. :D

Anonymous said...

You've brought on a flashback: 1986, An American Tail, Fievel is lost and crying for his Papa. My favorite little face on earth looks up with huge brown eye overflowing with tears. "Mamma, that's so sad." Mamma bawls like a baby.