Daddy-Daughter – “No way….am I going to miss it.”
By Sean Wildman
“C’mon, it will be really cute.” I believe those were the words my wife used on me in 2002 when the first daddy/daughter dance was announced. I gave her the typical “no way” look and went about my day. But that didn’t stop the asking from her and then my daughter, Katelyn, started asking me. Now the last thing a dad wants to do is disappoint his child, except for maybe looking like a fool in front of who knows how many people trying to dance. I finally gave in and agreed to dance.
That first rehearsal I was tugged into the dance studio by my daughter. She was excited and I had butterflies. I could quickly see that I was not alone with the thoughts of, “What have I got myself into?” There was some chaos in the studio on everyone’s part. This was new ground for TDA and trying to corral all the dads was not an easy task. After the introductions and a briefing on what we could expect, it was time to stand up and dance. I think we spent 30 minutes on the first three 8 counts. After the rehearsal, I was worried. My daughter and I get home and of course my wife wants to see what we learned. We tried to recreate the steps that were just taught to us. Was it left foot forward or right foot back? Good thing Katelyn knew and could help me out.
About a month later, it was time for the second rehearsal. Before leaving, I wanted to practice at home. Problem was neither I nor Katelyn could really remember the steps. In the studio, Tiffany asked if we remembered what we had learned. Luckily there were some dads who said they missed the first rehearsal so Tiffany went through the steps again. Thank goodness I didn’t have to confess that I couldn’t remember the steps. As Tiffany went through the steps, it all came back pretty quickly. The confidence level was growing and I was feeling good. That lasted a few minutes until Tiffany added the next part. I wondered if she enjoyed the looks on the dad’s faces when she would demonstrate a step and then ask us to do it. Just picture the look on a five year olds face after you ask the child to explain the Pythagorean Theorem. I know that was my expression.
After half dozen or so rehearsals, it was show time. The dads had on their suits and the girls were all dressed in their pretty white dresses. The feeling in the room back stage where the dads waited reminded me of waiting in the locker room before a big game. Nervous energy filled the room and it was quiet. Finally someone came in and said, “Okay dads, you are up next.” My heart rate picked up rapidly as we walked to the wings. The lights lowered, the dads got into their places and I looked at Katelyn standing in the wings. There she stood with a smile on her face and excitement in her eyes. The feeling that came over me right then is priceless. As the music started, there weren’t any other dads on the stage, there wasn’t an audience or bright lights. There was just me and my daughter dancing together and sharing a special memory. At least that is what I remember.
Each year, the daddy/daughter dance has gone more smoothly. The dads with a little “experience” under their belts are a little more relaxed and confident. That has created a support group during rehearsal and back stage while waiting to go on. There might be a video playing with a group of dads watching the screen intently. The difference is it isn’t a ball game on the screen like you would normally see somewhere. It is a video from a rehearsal with the dads going through their routine in their minds. In another corner, one dad has asked another dad for help to make sure he has his steps correct. The funny thing is it really doesn’t matter if you step with your left foot first instead of your right. What matters is that the dads are out there with their daughters having an experience together. The family/friends who are there watching you won’t notice because they are too busy wiping tears from their eyes. And I know because I have heard people in the audience sniffling and crying while I was on stage. I have seen the excitement of other little girls waiting to run on stage to their dads like Katelyn did that first year. That is why Tiffany gives us dads the opportunity like this.
Every year since the first, when I was asked if I was going to do the daddy/daughter dance, the look I give is, “No way….am I going to miss it.” Katelyn and I have been part of the daddy/daughter dance every year and every year is a special memory that helps strengthen the bond between us. I still keep a picture from that first dance of me handing Katelyn a flower on my desk at work. And every time I hear Butterfly Kisses or Hero or any of the daddy/daughter songs, I get a little misty eyed thinking of the special time I spent with Katelyn, dancing together, hand in hand, being that special man in her life that she wants to dance with because I know it won’t be long until she is wearing a white dress for her wedding, wanting to dance with someone other than me.