It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I am visiting my oldest daughter at her work. It’s been just us for a few days as my youngest and my better half are at a cheer competition in Myrtle Beach since Thursday. She’s been super busy with school and dance team and practices for her upcoming dance competition that is to occur on Sunday night. My wife is the dance Mom, I do a decent job at most jobs, but Dance Mom isn’t one of them. She has had her Mom basically backstage her entire life, so I figured she would have a tough weekend with her Mom gone. I try my best, but I know nothing about the stage. Sure, I like being the center of attention, but never on a stage.

Her work has this awesome chicken salad so I told her if they had any left when she got into work to text me and I would come visit. A little chicken salad on Scali bread on a perfect Saturday was just what I needed. The bakery was busy, so I had to wait outside due to covid restrictions, but I didn’t mind. With the youngest and my wife gone I didn’t have anything left on my “honey do” list. I was in a great mood. As I finally get my turn, she sees me, and we smile at each other. It’s not tough to tell when we are smiling, even thru the masks. I grab my chicken salad and then I get to piss her off a little. She asks what kind of coffee I want, and she hates when I say “surprise me” so of course that is what I do. She makes some weird blueberry favored coffee, I pay, and tell her I will see her later and she says, “Love you Dad”.

I get outside and I laugh to myself a bit.  She must have slipped and forgot we were in public.  A public “Love you Dad” from my 16-year-old.  It can’t be I think to myself.  I can’t wait to see her later and talk about it.  Her day ends and she stops home to get some stuff for a sleepover she is going to.  She’s a licensed 16-year-old car owner.  She’s got places to be and honestly, I love it. She’s a really really good human, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit she had other places to be than home.  But as she is hurrying to pack her entire room into her car, I laugh a bit.  She’s an over packer just like her Dad.  If we are gone for more than 24 hours somewhere, we have 3 outfits and whatever else we might need if we get lost in the woods for 3 months.  But I caught her for a second and I say to her, “that was funny earlier when you slipped and said, “Love you Dad””, and without missing a beat she said she didn’t slip, she loves me and I am her Dad.  She said she isn’t embarrassed saying something like that….and I was again, as I commonly am, completely confused by this human. 

She’s got to still be completely embarrassed by me, right?  I was told from around 10 to 30 your daughters will be embarrassed of you and then all of the sudden you are best friends again.  Even if this was just a one day, one moment mistake by her and she goes back to being embarrassed by her Dad I will take it.  If she reads this story and thinks to herself about how much of a dork I really am, I’ll remember this moment.  If I have to wait another 14 years or so before I hear “Love you Dad” again it will be worth it. 

This weekend was incredible. My youngest earned a spot in Disney with her cheer team, my wife got a few days away from our house, and I got to watch my oldest daughter do what she does best, she got to dance. First with her dance team at school, then with her friends at her dance studio in competition. It’s easily my favorite thing I get to see her do. I don’t have any clue how she does it, but she almost brings me to tears every single time she dances.

There were a million little moments I loved from this past weekend. Lots of moments deserving of their own story. It’s what makes me always feel like the luckiest guy in any room I am in. I don’t run out of things to be thankful for. But, if I am being honest, nothing will top hearing three simple words, “love you Dad”.

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