Meet the Family II: The Girl

Here’s Riley, five-year-old kindergartner and my vote for Most Perfect Child In Creation. This picture was taken on her first day of big-girl school, as she was ready to get on the bus for the first time. And, as you can see, she’s already starting to pull away from Dad and look for cooler friends to hang out with.

If you don’t have a daughter of your own, you cannot begin to conceive of the homicidally protective thoughts that enter into your mind the very moment the little princess enters the world. It’s all funny-ha-ha when you’re the guy ringing the doorbell to Meet the Folks–Dad, all chummy, tells you to “have my daughter home by nine, young man!” while you’re trying to decide whether there’s any significance to the fact that he’s got what appears to be a necklace of VC ears dangling off the mantel. (One time, I actually drew blood from my date before we even left her house. It was the homecoming dance, she was hot and I was playing way over my head. And with her family–mom, dad, jerkwad little sister–watching, I went to pin the corsage on her dress. And then I realized my hand was just…inches…from…them…and poink, I jabbed her, and not in a good way. The date went downhill from there–we went to the restaurant where a buddy of mine was the host, and the jackass called me by my brother’s name. Needless to say, Date 1 was also Date Fini. Shame, too, because that girl grew up to be Cameron Diaz.)

Okay, so it’s a boatload of hormone-driven stress when you’re taking out a young lady. But when you’re on the other side of the generational divide, it’s completely different. Because now, you know exactly what goes on in the minds of the scrawny little bastards that show up in their ill-fitting Sunday sportcoats. And while I’m hoping that Riley has enough sense to keep these little jerkwards in their places, I’m hedging my bets by altering the rules of the game. Last Friday, Riley and I went to a Father-Daughter Valentine’s Day Dance, and after all this time, I know damn well how to impress a lady. I gave her a rose, took her out for a fine meal (which she picked at but didn’t eat–good job, sweetie!), danced with grace and devotion, and paid attention only to her–in short, did right what every horny little high schooler is going to do wrong eleven years hence. I’m going to raise her expectations of men so high that nobody’s going to meet them until she’s, like, 35 or so. Happy Valentine’s Day, angel!


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