Hey Dads, Parental Guidance suggested
Lori Borgman | Monday, Jan 09, 2012
A father was holding his little girl’s hand at a busy intersection where strip malls have multiple ins and outs on every corner and left turn arrows perform a precision-timed choreography.
The little girl was bundled in pink snow pants and a pink jacket with her hood pulled tight. The only part of little girl that showed were chubby cheeks, a thick crop of bangs protruding from her hood and dark brown eyes.
Her father had a tight grip on her small hand. He looked left and right, over his one shoulder and then the other. He hit the pedestrian walk button again.
He took half a step forward with one foot, then quickly stepped back. It wasn’t time yet. False alarm.
The little girl patiently stood beside her father with her feet planted. But her little arm, stuffed like a sausage in a pink polyester casing, moved back and forth as her dad turned left, right and craned his neck to check cars coming from behind.
The father was vigilant in protecting his little girl.
I couldn’t help but wonder how long that father will remain that vigilant. How long will he take the lead? How long will he assume responsibility for the safety and well being of his daughter?
I hope he’s there through her preschool years so that she has someone to hold her, a lap to sit on, a back to climb and a pair of shoulders to ride for a change of view. She’ll sleep well at night knowing he’s just down the hall.
I hope he looks out for her in elementary school, that he cheers as she rides a bike without training wheels, that he attends her school conferences, makes sure she’s getting a good education and develops a moral compass pointed true North.
As he protects her from traffic, may he protect her from what she sees and hears. Monitor that television and computer as much as those left-turn arrows. Guard her childhood and shield her from sick images and warped ideas.
I hope that dad keeps his grip tight as she navigates the rough waters of early adolescence. She’ll come to know a lot about herself through the eyes of her father. Girls often listen more intently to what a father says than a mother, because fathers tend not to talk as much as mothers. Choose your words carefully, Dad, both the critical ones and the encouraging ones.
I hope he stands down any peer group that tells her a female is nothing more than body parts. As she witnesses the flat-out race to the bottom among many young girls competing to be coarse and vulgar, may he take her by the shoulders and say, “Not you. You’re so much more than that.”
Hang tight, Dad. Not just at the crosswalk but in the years to come. She needs you -- more than you both may know.