As I sat at the latest dance/cheer competition with my girls I did wonder how the hell I got here. This was a high school competition so my daughter’s dance team had an exhibition while the cheerleading teams were part of the actual competition. So, I got to sit with my youngest and watch all the cheerleading performances before I got to watch my oldest do her thing on the dance floor.
We watched in awe at the first team that went. They were great. I looked over at my daughter to see if she agreed. She reassured me what I thought was correct. The team killed it. We saw a few smaller teams that weren’t as good. I could tell the first team was very good and the other teams were sort of just not on the same level. I watched a routine and in the middle of it I whispered to my daughter that the routine was just to big for the girls. The girls just weren’t ready for it, but the actual choreography was well thought out. She agreed again, and we talked about how a stunt fell and she taught me why it fell. To me it looked just like the girl fell, but to my daughter, the professional, she was able to point out that the base girls did not point the flyers feet up and it caused her balance to be off and that is why she fell. It made perfect sense to me after she explained.
I glanced around and saw a ton of kids I recognized. Kids from surrounding towns that I had seen at a previous event, or ones that I had seen at every event since my kids started competing in these sports. I know what teams are good at hip hop or whatever other style they are doing, because I decided that if I was there, why not learn that stuff.
I used to be the guy who complained about going to these type of events. I used to nod off during all the other performances who didn’t have one of my girls in it. Now, I’m not the guy you see standing and cheering and yelling for the girls and boys during or after their performance. But, I’m there. I’m invested in it. Just like my old man. He never missed a game due to work. He wasn’t a coach or one of those lunatic parents who screams during the games. But, he was there. I never looked out from the field and didn’t see him there. My kids deserve that too, even if it is something I have no clue about. As I have said many times, being a Dad is literally almost all about just showing up, being there. That’s really it.
The other night my oldest came home from her dance class and was on cloud nine. They were learning this new part of a performance and she was so happy with how it looked. She put the song on and showed me what she was talking about. Then she was upstairs like a 1/2 hour later and I asked the wife if she saw the dance stuff my oldest was talking about and she said no. So I asked my daughter “did you tell mom about the performance?” and she said no. I thought the only reason she was telling me was that I was the first person she saw when she walked in the house. But, nope, she was telling me because she knew I cared. She knew that I liked to hear about that type of thing.
Do I wish maybe that I had a boy to watch football with or go skating with? Sure. Did it take me a long time to learn to love what my kids passion was? Absolutely. But, I’ve gotten so much more out of being invested in them than I ever thought possible. I go to the High school football games now, arrive in the 2nd quarter, watch my girl and her team do a performance at half time and I am in my car by the middle of the 3rd quarter.
I like the guy my kids turned me into. I like that I get to be their Dad. I like that I don’t have to fake interest in their worlds. That at one time their worlds were like a far away foreign land, but now I can speak their language. I like that when they grow I’ll miss all this dancing and cheerleading stuff, makes me appreciate being invited to all of it now. I like that they can talk to me about 8 counts and costumes and pyramids and hair bows.
Perspective is a funny thing. Life isn’t always the way you drew it up. I don’t live in Hawaii making a billion dollars a year dressing up in a suit and meeting with very powerful people. My life is so much more fulfilling than that in ways I never imagined. I consider myself a very rich man when I see what I have in my life. So, when you see a Dad sitting in the stands at a dance competition don’t take pity on him “having” to be their. If he’s smart like me, he’s watching and learning all the terms so that someday, when you least expect it your daughter opens up her world to you, and you are ready to listen.
I love being a Dad to these beautiful humans.