A Daddy-Daughter Date Realization and a Do-Over

date2Weekends for our family are usually reserved as time to spend together in some way or another. Usually Saturday afternoons and evenings are spent out in some part of Indianapolis and Sunday afternoons and evenings are spent in our family room together watching a family movie and playing family games. Occasionally, things get in the way of our weekend plans leaving either Casey or me alone with the kids for the evening. This last Saturday was one such weekend. Casey had to attend a swanky event with a bunch of people she didn’t know while she enjoyed the best foods from all over the city.

Me? I got to spend my Saturday evening with my daughters, and even though it would have been fun to spend the evening on a date with my wife at her fancy event, I was pretty excited to have a night with my girls. I splurged a little and got them some root beer, pizza, and pie so we could watch a movie together as a sort of daddy-daughter date.

We watched Tangled together while we ate, which is one of my favorite Disney movies. As I watched the movie, the comments coming from Rapunzel’s mother opened my eyes a little. I’ve watched Tangled with my kids probably a dozen times, so none of the comments were new to me. I remembered how passive/aggressive Rapunzel’s mother can be while not so subtle, digs at Rapunzel. What caught my attention this time around, however, was that nothing Rapunzel said could please her mother.

I don’t know why it is, but for whatever reason, my reaction to Addie’s accomplishments lately always comes off as if she could have done better. On Friday afternoon, I came home from work and Addie met me at the door with a hug as she does every day. With excitement, she told me she only missed one on her reading test that day. In my mind, I was happy that she did well on her test, but what came out of my mouth was, “Why did you miss one?” I followed that stupid comment up with, “You need to study harder so you don’t miss any.” That’s it. No, “Good job kid,” or, “Way to go.”

Addie’s face didn’t have a disappointed reaction either. That’s what makes me most sad about what I’ve become is that she wasn’t disappointed, since she fully expected that reaction from me.

That’s not acceptable. Pushing Addie to better herself is important, but it’s just as important to recognize her accomplishments even if her accomplishments didn’t result in perfection. This kid is going to have plenty of moments when life, without any help from me, will teach her that she is not perfect and she can do better. She certainly doesn’t need me, someone who took school at her age about as seriously as a cartoon on Saturday morning, knocking her down.

On Sunday, after Addie had already forgotten that she told me about her reading test score, she excitedly told me again, “Dad, I only missed one on my reading test.” Having been given a second chance to get it right, I replied, “Good job kid, I’m proud of you.” Here’s the kicker — Addie looked at me and said, “I missed number nine, but it’s the closest I’ve ever come to getting them all right.” The kid already knew she could improve, and she’s been trying to get a 100% on that weekly test.

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