Sunday, 30 December 2012

Dads and their daughters

Dads and their daughters
29 December 2012

There is a truly special and indefinable bond between dads and their daughters.  An infinitely tender, special and very unique relationship.

I think it is born from a father’s protective instincts towards his female offspring.  A nurturing that strongly comes to the fore and is primal.  And though I’m sure fathers have similar tender feelings towards their sons, I believe that it is different.  Less shielding perhaps.  Less gentle and cossetting.  Oh they love their boys too.  It’s not about love at all.  But with their boys there is a fair bit of “making men of them” and toughening them up.  But with their girls, they can let it all hang out and unleash their softer sides.

My very own father turned to a marshmallow in my presence.  He had a very special way of looking at me.  Like I was the next wonder of the world and the most perfect creation ever.  He could be strict and go all parental and the heavy father on me, but still he utterly adored me.  And I am delighted to say that the feeling was entirely mutual, as I adored him too.  I suspect that he had the same adoration for my sister, Katrine.

He would focus his entire attention on me and truly listened when I talked.  He was tender and nurturing and thought I was the most beautiful and intelligent person ever.  This was plain for all to see.  He was a very creative man and an exceptionally talented artist, yet my Mom said that he often told her that his most amazing and beautiful creations ever were his children.  No painting, sketch, drawing or sculpture could equal his brilliance as a creator when it came to his kids.  So sweet.

I met my Grantie just two weeks after I turned seventeen and from the get-go I was hooked.  He was clearly the guy for me and I knew that I would eventually marry him.  But for my Dad, this was not an easy thing to either witness or accept.  Perhaps he felt usurped in my affections as I had now found another man whose opinions I valued and looked at adoringly.  He gave Grant the obligatory hard time that fathers feel they should give to their daughter’s boyfriends.  It was not that he disliked him, because he did like him.  It was not that he disapproved of him either.  It was just that Grant had made a cardinal error.  He had stolen my affections and I think the reason my Dad resisted so strongly, was because he knew where our mutual infatuation would inevitably lead – a permanent place in my life.  Do fathers ever think anybody is good enough for their daughters?  Perhaps it is a testosterone thing. 

And after dating Grant for over six years and finally getting married, my Dad turned a corner.  There is a saying in Afrikaans, which is “Die koeël is deur die kerk”, which translates as something being done and a fait accompli – it can’t be changed, so best you accept it.  Once Grant and I were firmly married, he fully accepted him and they actually had a good relationship.  I wonder at how Grant would be with any boy Amber should ever bring home and I shudder at the mere thought.  Good luck is all I can say.  Already at the tender age of eleven, Amber has had a few little boys that liked her and that she has had a little girly crush on.  And Grant can’t stand it.  He gives them all horrible nicknames and teases Amber mercilessly.  The latest boy who liked her was dubbed “The Rat” – shame!  At present Grant is waging an all-out war against Justin Bieber.  It’s actually so sweet to see.  But he need not fear, our little Amber-Berry will always be his princess.  And she knows this.

Grant passionately loves music and his sound system.  Always has.  Always will.  And I clearly remember being pregnant with Luke and Grant saying “no child of mine will ever touch my sound system”.  And once little Luke started crawling and exploring, he once put his hand out to touch his father’s beloved sound system baby.  Grant had been watching him like a hawk and gave him a very hard whack on his hand to warn him, accompanied by a very loud and stern “NO!!!”.  Predictably it made a lasting impression and worked, because Luke never touched it again.  At least not until he was old enough to be taught how to by Grant.  And I mistakenly assumed that the same policy would apply to Amber as a crawling and exploring baby.  But much was my amusement when Amber stretched out her little hand when the time came.  He gently picked her hand up and lightly tapped it and said in a sing song type of voice “no Amber-Berry – don’t touch my little angel!”.  A highly ineffective attempt as she never lost her fascination for it.  And to this day, she is still obsessed with the TV, sound system and various remotes.

I have also been witness to my uncles and their daughters and I can see that it is a struggle for them at times.  It doesn’t matter how nice the guy is.  How right for his daughter.  What a winning prospect.  It is still another man.  I suspect this has always been the case with dads and their daughters.  Grant has an old school friend who had kids very late in life.  And now at the age of about forty four, he has two little girls who are about two and three years old.  And he told us most vocally that he was not going to invest in a mere shotgun when the time came and boys came calling on his daughters.  He’s getting himself a flame thrower and he “will nuke those little bastards on the spot”.  It was so unexpectedly violent and funny that I had burst out laughing.  And one look at his face indicated that he was deathly serious and would try his utmost to go down this road.  I sympathise with his daughters and empathise with his poor wife who is going to have a hell of a time pacifying all and keeping the peace.

I relish in the memories of my Dad and I.  How special it was.  I would sacrifice lots for a killer hug from him again and a shared look of love.  He accepted me for who I was.  He praised me for my achievements and for being me.  I wish the same for my little Berry and for any little girl and woman out there.  A father’s love is encompassing and completely pure.  But perhaps only if you are very lucky and have a fabulous father.  And I was fortunate enough to have one of those.

So I give my Grantie full permission to unleash his inner marshmallow.  Do it babe – go gooey.  Amber delights in it and laps it up.  And while we’re at it – good luck to the Biebs.  He definitely does not make the grade in Grant’s books for his little berry. 

Arriving home from the Hospital after my birth and my Dad is holding my proudly. My folks still very much kids themselves and utter hippies at that.
By the way - the first pic was taken at my wedding. I saved the last dance for my Dad.


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  3. This is beautiful Helene.
    Your dad certainly did love his gals a LOT!
    Still feel the same about my dad.