“Are you thinking the same thing I’m thinking?”
“I love you!!!”
And that, my friends, is how Daddy’s Little Girls are made. My beautiful little girl, Aria Leigh, hit me with that probing line of inquiry a week ago and I wilted under the pressure. Forget waterboarding. You want a man to give up his secrets; you simply aim straight for the heart. And my little princess, with her blue eyes wide open in wonder, hoping her Daddy would return her serve with the same expertly crafted slice of sentimentality, knows exactly how to make me talk. In her sweetest little voice, with the most innocent of questions, she made my day.
Matters of the heart aside, Aria’s inquisitiveness also heralds another truth. My little princess is growing up too swiftly. There she was, taking her final leap from three, ready to stick the landing at four – a momentous occasion that falls punctually on her original due date – May 31st.
It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago today, Andi and I began the day like any other day, making a routine visit to the docs. While we knew Andi was nearing the end of the pregnancy, she awoke that day not feeling any different. None of those portent signs announcing loud and clear that today was the day – even if May 31st, 2005 was Aria’s predicted arrival date. With Colin, we waited and waited and waited until finally he was scheduled to be induced and then we waited and waited and waited…
With Aria, we were in a doctor’s office at 10:00 a.m. EST, going through the normal routine (she in the exam room, me watching the Crocodile Hunter in the waiting room) when suddenly we were told unceremoniously – IT’S GO TIME!!! (Damn these House-wannabes and their impenetrable medical jargon). From there, we were given our marching orders to get to UMASS Medical in Worcester ASAP.
Having met Andi there from work, and with a two-year old Colin in tow, we had two cars to deal with and the sudden need to secure local, immediate babysitting. Fortunately, my buddy Joe resided just down the road in Shrewsbury and we were able to deposit one child in order to withdraw another.
We made it to the hospital quickly and just as swiftly, Aria was born with plenty of time for us to order up dinner, catch the evening news and feverishly flash forward to a lifetime of tea parties, Disney Princess dress-up days, $10,000 monthly text bills and my own brand of shotgun wedding (in that, whichever future dude comes a callin’ better watch out for me on the front porch. Of course, my first order of business will be to decide which end points where.)
I kid, of course, but every Daddy’s heart melts at the site of his little girl.
With little boys, we zealously rub our hands together, knowing that we suddenly secured a lifetime excuse to continue playing with all the cool toys. Some Dads see dirt bikes in their future. Others, like me, let their minds drift to the World of Tomorrow – knowing that we (I mean – HE) just has to own the latest video game console. Suddenly it’s no longer a 36 year-old dude shuffling his feet anxiously as he tries to dream up a compelling argument for why he just has to have a Playstation 3 (“…b-uuuuu-t Sean has o-nnnnnn-e” doesn’t seem to cut it.) But with a son as my wingman, we have strength in numbers. Bring on the Xbox 720 (I hope that doesn’t mean that each unit breaks and gets recalled twice over).
So with boys, Dads flash to all the fun they’re going to have. A chance to drink from the fountain and time warp back to our youth, only with the added luxury that in this fancy time of the future, we have so many cooler toys to play with than we did way back when.
But girls are different.
A little princess wields a powerful spell and with just a few carefully chosen words (or sometimes just a sly smile from across the room), your little girl can take the biggest, burliest Dad and suddenly transform him into a makeshift Belle. Or Aurora. Or Briar Rose. Or Cinderella. But not Ariel. That’s what she’s wearing.
The bottom line is you’ll do anything to brighten those eyes and bring those rosy cheeks in bloom. You’ll gladly play the part of Princess Jasmine. You’ll happily accordion yourself into the smallest seat in order to daintily sip some pretend tea. You’ll shamelessly lip-synch Hannah Montana tunes into a makeshift hair brush/microphone. You’ll do anything to keep your little lady’s face a glow and her heart full with the knowledge that her Daddy finds her to be the most precious girl on Earth and will do anything to keep her safe… and most of all, happy.
As Aria pirouettes into four, she stands tall at the precipice of an exciting year of change. In three weeks, she’ll take to the big stage for her first dance recital. So You Think You Can Dance? You ain’t got nothing on my beautiful ballerina.
And as the summer air chills and the foliage fades from green to autumnal perfection, Aria will take her first brave steps along her own personal journey – starting a new adventure by entering those hallowed halls of preschool. While it’s just a toe-dip in the deep waters that lay ahead, waiting to be challenged and explored, it’s much more than one small step. It’s a huge leap for Aria Leigh. Suddenly our little girl becomes part of the big wide world – a world lucky to have her in it.
“Daddy, were you thinking what I was thinking?”
Aria – You stole the words right out of my mouth.
Happy 4th Birthday Aria Leigh.