Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fathers & Daughters

I usually take the same route home every night after work. It's become so routine that I'm usually on autopilot and don't notice the things around me. It's just the same old thing. Cars, buildings, palm trees, cars, get the picture.

One day during a particularly mind-numbing round of rush hour gridlock, something caught my eye. A man and a little girl walking on the sidewalk. Obviously father and daughter. The man had a backpack slung across one shoulder and in his right hand he held papers from the little girls day: a piece of finger paint art, some of her writings and of course the obligatory macaroni collage. In his other hand, he held her little hand. She looked to be about four and had long hair that was the color of honey that the late afternoon sun made shine.

I could see the little girl chattering away telling her dad about her day. He listened patiently and nodded. I'm sure he was agreeing to how paste really does taste good and that the girl who picks her nose should really use a tissue.

It warmed my heart to see this. I smiled and finally made my way home.

The next day, I discovered myself looking for the man and his daughter. And there they were. Just like clockwork. I see them almost every day. And I wonder if this man knows that by doing something as simple as walking his daughter home and listening to her talk about her day he is giving his daughter a gift. He is giving her the opportunity to let his daughter express her feelings confidently. The act of giving her his attention and just the sheer force of his presence in her life will help her in every relationship she ever finds herself in. Can you imagine what would happen if the man in her life didn't listen to her? My guess is he'd become fast friends with the curb.

I don't have a good relationship with my dad. And I'm somewhat envious of this little girl. How different would my life had been if my father had just listened to me? Oh, well. Spilled milk, I'm not going to worry about it.

I may be reading more into the situation than there actually is. But, I don't care. I'm taking the lesson I see from this: to give my daughter my attention and to listen patiently about her day and to let her express herself freely. My fervent hope is that I am a decent example of a mother and a woman for her. Maybe if I listen, her life will be different - for the better.

All right. Who's up for a round of ' Kumbaya'?

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