I was really psyched by the range of commentary on yesterday's two posts, setting off The Male Mind week--in case you missed it, Swapnil Shah gave some suggestions on communicating needs, and Dileepan Siva discussed fatherhood, and the kind of father he wants to be.
Today, we're going to switch gears a bit. When I first thought about this Man Week idea, I really didn't have any crystallized topics in mind--I just wanted to let some males and some fathers write about what was on their minds. It was pretty interesting to me that, unprompted, two men who don't know each other wanted to explore the idea of what it means, as a man, to raise a daughter. So, today we have a pair of pieces about fatherhood through the lens of raising daughters. This afternoon we will hear from author William Campbell who will regale you with tricks on how to protect your daughters. First, here is Tarik Hashim Dalton on when he realized his little baby is actually a little girl.
Tarik Dalton is the father of one Maxine Price Dalton and lives in New York with his wife Rochelle. He works at Credit Suisse as a distressed bond analyst in the fixed income group and has never stopped being a smart-ass...
"When I Realized I Am The Father Of A Girl." So, from the title, I bet most of you are thinking: “Duh, when the baby popped out without a set of beans and franks.” Well of course I knew then. . . But what I mean is when I knew--like REALLY knew-- that the little baby I was taking care of was a female, and I was this female's father, and everything that entails. During the first couple of weeks after Maxine was born, there was never that moment of clarity, that AH HA moment so to speak. I was just living on instincts and trying to make sure I didn’t kill her in the meantime. But the AH HA moment did come--Boy did it come. And you know I'm going to proceed to tell you the when, where, how, and why it took place...but I'm going to string it out a little bit more...And a little bit more. Of course, I am going to tell you I just had to build a little suspense—I love drama.
Max was about 3 or 4 weeks old. One of my really good friends asked me if I want to go out. This was not a regular weekly go out request. It was a “do you want to go out because that friend that we all have who always spends ridiculous amounts of money for no reason is throwing a birthday party at one of the hottest clubs in the city” request. . . I mean how could I miss out on this? I'm married. This means that, of course I had to get permission first. Did I mention that Maxine, our first child, our darling daughter was about 21 days old at this time? That translated to this thought: “No shot. My wife will kill me for even thinking about it.” However, I was feeling very radical and on a mission to prove I was not an old deadbeat just because I was a father. So I “MANNED UP” and told Rochelle: “The boys are going out and I’m going out with them!”
Yea. Ok you guys all know it didn’t really go down like that, but this is my story so. . . let's say that's what happened.
Just to be nice I threw in a gesture of good faith and agreed that I would do the 3 AM feeding, which worked perfectly because 3AM would be about the time I was returning home. (Ok I confess the 3AM feeding was part of the deal for me to leave at all but again this is MY story and what is a story without some creative license).
So I’m in the club with the boys. Private VIP section, music blasting, 6 bottles of various types of top-shelf alcohol flowing. . . We all secretly thought we were shooting a video. Our crew is about a 30/70 married/single crowd, and of course the single guys were mixing it up nicely with the ladies. I would be remiss not to tell you about the quality of talent in this place. TOP NOTCH. Obviously none of these girls could hold a candle to my beautiful wife; however, I reiterate TOP NOTCH. Not only top notch talent but these girls were wearing next to NOTHING. I mean skirts so short they can’t possibly sit down without exposing themselves to the world, cleavage everywhere . . . I’m sure you are getting the point. Classic club wear for two bit bimbos right? RRRRRIIIIIIIGGGGGGHHHHHHHTTTTT!!!!
But as these girls come and go through our section of VIP I randomly hear snippets of their stories. Stuff like: “I graduated from Penn in ’07 and I work at Goldman. Or, “I went to Harvard undergrad and now I am in Columbia Law School,” and “I graduated from Stanford in ’06 and I work for McKinsey.” I mean on and on and on it went. All of these girls, who in my head were already branded gold digging community college grads, were actually all highly educated serious professionals. And as I stood there absorbing all of this it dawned on me: I could only hope that my daughter would become as smart, driven, and attractive as many of these girls. It made my head spin because there I was hoping that my daughter could be one of these VIP-club girls that my boys were ogling in 22 years or so!!
But wait. . . how could I go from looking at most of these girls like t-bone’s in the butcher shop to admiration and actually thinking I would be lucky if my daughter grew up to be like them? I still don’t know how that transformation of thought took place, but I guess that's why they call it an “AH HA” moment. In the club, drinking my drink, looking at the beautiful girls around me, there it was: I have a little girl who will grow up to be a woman. A WOMAN (ugh that is hard to write). I realized that I would have to let her go one day and trust that I did a good job raising her. I realized that hoping for a beautiful daughter is also hoping for a daughter that boys will chase. I can’t protect her from the wolves with blood on their fangs. I can just teach her how to fend them off and hope she listens. I know there is only one thing 16 year old boys want. I just happen to have been 16 at one point and I was just as rabidly horny as the next guy. . . I wasn’t getting any but I was trying to concoct every scheme in the world to actually get some.
I got back home a little before 3AM. I heard my little Punkin start to tussle and cry a bit. I got her bottle warm, picked her up, held her in my arms and just stared at her. Thinking of all the great things she is going to do in her life. And I made a deal with my psycho alter ego that I would just love her for as long as she was my little girl and not worry about the mini skirts she would be wearing in some club circa 2030. . . Jesus that seems like a long time from now. I can't believe I'm going to be one of those parents who can already tell that he will one day be marveling at how the time went by so quickly. And I can't believe my daughter has ruined mini-skirts for me.